Cedar River Watershed newsletter, Issue 18
Discover Learn Connect
Connecting people to the source of Seattle's drinking water, inspiring confidence, stewardship and sustainability.
Questions? Comments? Contact Cedar River Watershed Education Center
or (206) 733-9421

100 Years Ago, the Land Became a Lake

Rattlesnake Lake

Moncton residents and other railroad workers lived on the shores of Rattlesnake Lake when it was first created. Circa 1914.

Have you walked along the shores and looked at the strange shapes of the stumps and wondered “What happened here?” For thousands of years, Native Americans camped beside the wet Rattlesnake Prairie. They tended, weeded, and burned shrubs and trees to nurture a healthy crop of edible camas bulbs. Early settlers called camas “rattlesnake grass” for its dry seedpods, which rattle in the wind.

In the early 1900s, settlers came to the area and logged the massive trees around the prairie. By 1907 the Milwaukee Railroad ran along the prairie’s edge and rail workers spurred the growth of the town of Moncton, which boasted 150 new buildings including a school, store, churches, and a motel. The quiet summer prairie and rainy-season lake were now part of a thriving town along a busy rail line.

However, a transformation was about to overtake the prairie, new town, and railroad. A few miles away, Seattle’s Cedar Falls power plant was undergoing improvements. In the fall of 1914, City engineers began to raise the water behind the new Masonry Dam, two miles and 600 feet above the town. Seepage through the north bank of the Masonry Pool, the new reservoir, was an immediate problem. In the spring of 1915, Rainy Season Lake water levels rose to the point of flooding the town and threatening the railroad. In the months that followed, many residents were forced to move away until the town was completely abandoned.

Wildlife and humans were drawn to the newly formed Rattlesnake Lake for fishing and recreation, but the settlements and railroads disappeared. Few buildings remained by the late 1940s and then the last train passed through in 1986. Much has changed over last 100 years, but Rattlesnake Ledge still stands sentinel, and people and water still gather below.

Did You Know?

Visitors on guided tour

Clara (on the left) with a class outside the school in Moncton. Photo courtesy Snoqualmie Valley Museum.

Miss Clara “Tincup” Vinup is a legend from Moncton. At the time of her retirement, she had continuously taught for 56 years; longer than anyone else in Washington State. She spent the most time – 20 years – at a school in Moncton (a.k.a. Cedar Falls), the town that existed where Rattlesnake Lake is today. Her dedication to her students was boundless. Outside of class she coached basketball and created numerous 4-H clubs. She is remembered fondly by all of her students. Learn more about her:

Breaking News

100 Year Anniversary of Rattlesnake Lake!

Join us for a tour to celebrate the anniversary of the formation of Rattlesnake Lake. We will explore the Rattlesnake Lake shore by foot and the Masonry Dam by van. Learn how the thirst for power changed the landscape and the people that once called this place home.

April 4 & 5, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Ages 10 and up

Tour is FREE. Registration required. Space is limited.

Winter Weekend Programs

Grab your family and friends for a day of wild delight, both inside and out, at the Center and Rattlesnake Lake.

Saturdays and Sundays from now thru February – Programs start at 1:30 p.m. and last 1-2 hours.

Programs are free, and registration is recommended, as space may be limited!

Register for watershed winter programs

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Visit Us

Education Center

19901 Cedar Falls Rd SE
North Bend, WA 98045

November thru March
Tuesday - Sunday
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

April thru October
Tuesday - Sunday
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area

19901 Cedar Falls Rd SE
North Bend, WA 98045
All Year
6:00 a.m. – Dusk

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Cedar River Watershed  email   |  (206) 733-9421  |  (425) 831-6780