A-Z History of Sumner, Washington - Main and other Streets
Provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times and the City of Sumner.
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Main and Other Streets
Before there were streets there were rivers. Goods for Sumner’s first settlers were transported by canoe to their destination.
Sumner’s first streets were made from built-up earth, and were high, muddy, and uneven. They took a variety of traffic-a lot of horses and horse-drawn wagons, herds of cows being driven from Tacoma to Sumner, and the occasional baseball game. The construction of a covered wooden bridge at the west end of Main Street made crossing the Stuck River much easier.
Stores were bought and sold with some frequency, but the blacksmith’s and the livery stables were constants in downtown Sumner. Most buildings were made of wood. George Ryan built the first brick structure in 1890. Some downtown building owners fabricated sidewalks but they were not of uniform height. There could be a foot of difference between one sidewalk and the next if you were looking for a stroll down Main Street, you needed to watch where you were going.
George Ryan’s brick building and everything else along Main Street was destroyed by the fire of 1894 which was caused, it would seem, by a spark from a passing train. The covered bridge was washed out in the flood of 1906. The same flood changed the course of the Stuck River and dried up a river bed that became Wood Avenue. Sumner poured its first concrete sidewalks in 108. Cows, and eventually, baseball was banned from the streets.
Mary Elizabeth remembers when Sumner was a self-sufficient town where you could get all the goods and services you needed. She'd walk down Main Street with her grandfather every Saturday, passing a couple of department stores, a photographer's shop, a doctor's office, and two or three grocery stores. They'd stop at the butcher's, where she'd get a free wiener. They said hello to everybody. Now Main Street is given over to antique stores, charming gift shops, and cafe's. Mary Elizabeth notes that you can't buy yarn in downtown Sumner any more, and it's hard to find a copy machine. You head to Puyallup for everything but grocery shopping.
Information on these pages is provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times Staff and The City of Sumner, Wa.
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