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Originally published Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Museum of the Month

Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum

A visit to the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum in Arlington, with displays about the area's past of logging and farming.

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Museum location: 20722 67th Ave. N.E., Arlington.

Displays: A huge, modern building set on parklike grounds anchors the extensive indoor and outdoor collections of artifacts from the original homesteaders of the Stillaguamish River Valley. With a focus on the local industries of logging and agriculture, there are also displays that show the furnishings and everyday items used in the homes and businesses of the early settlers.

On the top floor, impressive dioramas portray local wildlife before — and after — the arrival of white men and the logging industry (ask a volunteer to show you the trick optical illusion inserted into the mural by the Cuban artist). Don't forget to visit the basement — a museum favorite is the HO-gauge train display that re-creates 1920s Arlington around the time of the Darrington Logger, a local train line that hauled logs from Darrington to Arlington. The display's detail is astonishing — see if you can spot the pumpkin patch, the graveyard burial in progress, the loggers posing on a huge log for a photographer and the bear in the tree along the railroad tracks.

Behind the museum, storage sheds hold everything from a 1934 Ford hardware-store delivery truck to the typesetting equipment used to put out the early editions of the Arlington Press. Kids love to climb inside the old 1930s school bus top once placed on a truck bed.

Outside the museum, near the road, is an 18-foot-diameter cedar stump that was used as a photography studio, and a circa-1900 cabin. Roam the spacious grounds out in front of the museum by the ponds (cross the bridge or take a path around the lake) to see old farm and logging equipment located in open sheds or set among tall trees.

Highlights: Stop by this Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. during the museum's Pioneer Days to watch hands-on demonstrations. Kids can try churning butter, washing clothes with a washboard, pumping water, making shake shingles, writing with pen and ink, spinning yarn, grinding wheat and milking cows. This annual event is free and held next to the museum at the circa-1923 Pioneer Hall (admission fee to enter museum).

During November and December, the museum is closed, but come view coho salmon migrating upstream through Portage Creek, which flows through the three ponds located next to the museum. An observation deck near the parking lot spans a fish ladder; muskrat, beaver and river otter have also been seen in the ponds.

Hours: Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays 1-4 p.m. from March through October; closed November through February.

Admission: $5 adults, $2 kids 12 and younger.

Directions: From Interstate 5 north of Marysville, take Exit 206 and head east on Highway 531 (172nd Avenue Northeast). After crossing the valley, turn left on 67th Avenue Northeast. After crossing 204th Street Northeast, the museum is on the left behind dark-red Pioneer Hall.

By bus: Community Transit Route 230 stops several blocks from the museum (800-562-1375 or www.commtrans.org).

For more information: 360-435-7289 or www.stillymuseum.org.

— Cathy McDonald, Special to The Seattle Times

Renton-based freelancer Cathy McDonald, a former geologist, has written about science and nature travel for 20 years. She's currently a travel guidebook editor and researcher at Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door. Contact her: nwwriter@hotmail.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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