Pre 1800s Edit
Prior to American settlement in the 19th century, the Puget Sound region was inhabited by indigenous Coast Salish peoples. The confluence of the two forks of the Stillaguamish River, the location of present-day downtown Arlington, was a prominent campsite for the Stillaguamish and Sauk peoples while following fish runs; the Stillaguamish named the campsite Skabalko, and had a major village at Chuck-Kol-Che upriver near modern-day Trafton.
American exploration of the area began in 1851, when prospector Samuel Hancock was led by Indian guides on a canoe up the Stillaguamish River. The area was opened to logging after the signing of the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855 between the United States government and the Stillaguamish tribe, who were relocated to trust lands and the Tulalip Indian Reservation. The U.S. Army built a military road connecting Fort Steilacoom to Fort Bellingham, crossing the Stillaguamish River near the confluence.
In the 1880s, wagon roads were constructed to this area from the towns of Marysville to the south and Silvana to the west, bringing entrepreneurs to the logging camps, informally named "The Forks". The area's first store was opened in 1888 by Nels K. Tvete and Nils C. Johnson, and was followed by a hotel with lodging and meals for loggers.
Two settlements were established on the south side of the confluence in anticipation of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad building a railroad through the area. G. Morris Haller, son of Colonel Granville O. Haller, founded a settlement on the banks of the Stillaguamish River in 1883, naming it "Haller City". The Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad chose to site its depot on higher ground to the south of Haller City, leading contractors Earl & McLeod to establish a new town at the depot on March 15, 1890. The new town was named "Arlington" after Lord Henry Arlington, member of the cabinet of King Charles II of England. Arlington and Haller City were platted within a month of each other in 1890, quickly developing a rivalry that would continue for several years.
Arlington and Haller City grew rapidly in their first years, reaching a combined population of 500 by 1893, relying on agriculture, dairy farming and the manufacturing of wood shingles as their main sources of income. Both towns established their own schools, post offices, saloons, general stores, churches, social clubs, and hotels. The two towns were separated by a 40-acre (16 ha) tract claimed by two settlers, preventing either town from fully absorbing the other. During the late 1890s, the claim dispute was settled and merchants began moving to the larger, more prosperous Arlington, signalling the end for Haller City. Today, Haller City is memorialized in the name of a park in downtown Arlington, as well as a middle school operated by the Arlington School District.
Arlington was incorporated as a fourth-class city on May 20, 1903, including the remnants of Haller City (located north of modern-day Division Street). The incorporation came after a referendum on May 5, in which 134 of 173 voters approved the city's incorporation. The new city elected shingle mill owner John M. Smith as its first mayor. In the years following incorporation, Arlington gained a local bank, a cooperativecreamery, a city park, a library, electricity, and telephone service.
During the early 20th century, Arlington's largest employers remained its shingle mills and saw mills. Other industries, including dairy processing, mechanical shops, stores, and factories, became prominent after World War I, during a period of growth for the city. The Great Depression of the 1930s forced all but one of the mills to close, causing unemployment to rise in Arlington and neighboring cities. The federal government established a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp near Darrington to create temporary jobs; the young men built structures and conducted firefighting in the Mount Baker National Forest. The Works Progress Administration and Civil Works Administration funded the construction of the city's sidewalks, a high school, and a municipal airport that opened in 1934.
The outbreak of World War II brought the U.S. Navy to Arlington, resulting in the conversion of the municipal airport into a naval air station in 1943. The Navy constructed new runways and hangars and, beginning in 1946, the municipal government was allowed to operate civilian and commercial services. Ownership of the airport was formally transferred from the federal government back to the city of Arlington in 1959.
On October 19, 1959, a Boeing 707-227 crashed on the banks of the Stillaguamish River's North Fork during a test flight, killing four of eight occupants. The plane, being flown by Boeing test pilots instructing personnel from Braniff International Airways, lost three engines and suffered a fire in the fourth after a dutch roll had been executed beyond maximum bank restrictions. The plane made an emergency landing in the riverbed while unsuccessfully trying to reach a nearby open field.
The completion of Interstate 5 and State Route 9 in the late 1960s brought increased residential development in Arlington, forming a bedroom community for commuters who worked in Everett and Seattle. Suburban housing developments began construction in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999, Arlington annexed the community of Smokey Point, located along Interstate 5 to the southwest of the city, after a lengthy court battle with Marysville, which instead was permitted to annex Lakewood to the west. The city began developing a large business park around the municipal airport in the 1990s.
By 2003 the city had over 11,000 jobs and a population of just over 11,200. The city of Arlington celebrated its centennial in 2003 with a parade, a festival honoring the city's history, sporting events, and musical and theatrical performances. The centennial celebrations culminated in the dedication of the $44 million Arlington High School campus, attended by an all-class reunion of the old school.
In 2007, the city of Arlington renovated six blocks of downtown's Olympic Avenue at a cost of $4.4 million, widening sidewalks, improving street foliage, and adding new street lights. The project was credited with helping revitalize the city's historic downtown, turning Olympic Avenue into a gathering place for residents and a venue for festivals.
On March 22, 2014, a large landslide near Oso dammed the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, with mud and debris covering an area of one square mile (2.6 km2). 43 people were killed and nearly 50 structures destroyed. The landslide closed State Route 530 to Darrington, cutting the town off, leaving Arlington as the center of the coordinated emergency response to the disaster. Arlington was recognized for its role in aiding victims of the disaster and hosted U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to the site in April.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Arlington has a total area of 9.26 square miles, of which 9.25 square miles is land and 0.01 square miles is water. The city is in the northwestern part of Snohomish County in Western Washington, and is considered part of the Seattle metropolitan area. It is approximately 41 miles north of Seattle and 10 miles north of Everett.
The city lies on a glacial terrace formed during the Pleistocene epoch by the recession of the Cordilleran ice sheet. Arlington covers a series of hills that sit at an elevation of 100 to 200 feet above sea level. Downtown Arlington is located on a bluff above the confluence of the Stillaguamish River and its North and South Forks. Most of Arlington sits in the watersheds of the Stillaguamish River, Portage Creek, and Quilceda Creek. From various points in Arlington, the Olympic Mountains, Mount Pilchuck, and Mount Rainier are visible on the horizon.
The Stillaguamish River valley and floodplain, including Arlington, lies in a lahar hazard zone 60 miles downstream from Glacier Peak, an active stratovolcano in the eastern part of the county. During an eruption 13,000 years ago, several eruption-generated lahars deposited more than 7 feet of sediment on modern-day Arlington.
Arlington has a general climate similar to most of the Puget Sound lowlands, with dry summers and mild, rainy winters moderated by a marine influence from the Pacific Ocean. The majority of the region's precipitation arrives during the winter and early spring, and Arlington averages 181 days of precipitation per year. Arlington's location in the foothills of the Cascade Range brings additional precipitation compared to nearby communities, with 46 inches annually compared to 33 inches in Everett. Arlington rarely receives significant snowfall, with an average of 7 inches per year since 1922.
July is Arlington's warmest month on average, with high temperatures of 73.6 °F (23.1 °C), while January is the coolest, at an average high of 44.5 °F (6.9 °C). The highest recorded temperature, 98 °F (37 °C), occurred on October 1, 1923, and the lowest, 7 °F (−14 °C), occurred on January 1, 1979.