Did you know the mission of the Cedar
River Watershed Education Center is “connecting people to the source of Seattle’s drinking water and its unique cultural and natural history, inspiring confidence, stewardship and sustainability”? What does all that really mean? One of the key words is connections. The Education Center and Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area are the gateway to the Cedar River Watershed. Everyone who visits has created, at the very least, a memory that is shaped by the watershed. Often they gain much more. As Socrates stated, “wisdom begins in wonder”.
Here, wonder can take many forms. Almost 300,000 people climb the ledge trail each year. Many who stand on the ledge wonder what body of water they are seeing in the distance. In turn, that curiosity leads them to the center. Here they learn about Chester Morse Lake and Seattle’s drinking water. Even those not seeking an outdoor experience can feel the magic of the watershed. Of the 30,000 yearly visitors about 4,000 of them come to the center for meetings, parties and weddings. While these folks don’t come for hikes or education, they find themselves immersed in the experience of water: the sounds of the rain drums, the views, and watershed maps. All of these foster new understandings.
In 1911, the watershed was officially closed to public access, and the City of Seattle began to acquire property to protect water quality, including using condemnation proceedings to remove homesteads and towns. Trains continued through, but bathrooms were locked while within the municipal watershed. The last train passed through in 1980, and by 1988 the tracks were gone.
One opportunity to dive into the wonder
of the watershed is by attending our Signature Tours on summer weekends. Stand at the source of the water you drink, with wilderness all around, and make connections that last a lifetime. Sign up to experience the wonder of the Cedar River Watershed.
Built to generate electricity for Seattle,
the Masonry Dam was constructed on the Cedar River between 1912-1914. Engineers employed cyclopean masonry consisting of boulders, rocks, and gravel from nearby gravel beds to build the 215-foot high, 1000-foot long wall. At the time, it was one of the largest dams in the world. Come see it for yourself! Register for one of our Signature Watershed Tours for a chance to walk on this wonder and explore the source of your drinking water.