Life can still lollygag in Buckley

August 30, 2005 

Rachel Northam of Carbanado and her sons Andrew, 7, left, and Luke, 5, scurry across Cottage Street in downtown Buckley on Monday.


Buckley’s downtown moves along at a measured pace.

It isn’t the bustling place it was when its timber industry was thriving, but it’s not a ghost town either.

On a recent sunny day, two long-haired teens raced their bikes past storefronts, weaving through people on the sidewalk. They were probably going too fast to notice the stenciled white letters on the ground at several corners that read, “NO BICYCLES OR SKATEBOARDS ALLOWED ON SIDEWALKS.”

They no doubt were headed to the new skatepark just off Main Street, which Meri Kay, a pharmacy assistant at Chuck’s Drug, says has been a hit with Buckley’s young people.

The $579,000 park – $265,000 of which came from a state grant – hasn’t had its grand opening yet.

But that hasn’t stopped the city’s bikers, skateboarders and inline skaters from attacking the facility’s halfpipes, ledges, rails and gaps.

“It’s amazing some of the things those kids can do,” Mayor John Blanusa said. “I think we’ve only had one broken arm so far, and you know that can happen anywhere.”

The city’s next big project will be to give the three-block downtown a face-lift. In May, city officials opened the only bid received but rejected it because it was 60 percent more than their estimate. The city will start looking for new bids this winter, Blanusa said.

Before it became Buckley, the area located on the south side of the White River was known as Perkins Prairie, then White River Siding before the Northern Pacific Railroad christened the area after one of its district superintendents, J.M. Buckley, in 1887.

These days, Buckley’s downtown serves as a quick and interesting stop for people headed to Mount Rainier.

There aren’t a lot of antique stores, but the ones that exist have such cool names, like The Purple Cow Antiques, that you want to just take a quick peek inside.

To replace those missing Scrabble letters, stop by the Queen’s Ransom Antique and Collectibles. There’s a mason jar full of them sitting in the window waiting to be part of someone’s triple word score.

Along the short walk between the library and City Hall, which bookend the three-block downtown on Main Street, there are several restaurants.

The Buttered Biscuit and Sweet Shoppe is a popular lunch spot. They serve lumberjack-sized portions that two people could share and both feel full.

For example, on one wall hanging over a booth is a whiteboard sign that reads: “The Beast, $7.95.” It features three slices of sourdough smeared with horsey sauce and covered with havarti, provolone, cheddar and a mountain of grilled red onions, then piled high with mounds of medium rare roast beef sliced thin with a side of macaroni salad.

Whew! For those hearty people who finish lunch and still have room for dessert, there’s a lengthy pie list. But it’s easier just to say that if it’s grown in Washington, they probably have it in a pie.

“These people are proud of their town’s history and won’t let you forget it,” said Tami Haskins, 42, of Sumner, owner of the Buttered Biscuit and Sweet Shoppe. “When people found out that I had bought (the shop) and planned on changing the name, a lot of them stopped by to let me know what they thought about that. And so we kept Sweet Shoppe in the name.”

There are several black and white photos around the restaurant chronicling The Sweet Shoppe, which has been in that location for around 100 years and was originally a candy store.

On another wall in the restaurant is a lamented newspaper clipping from the Tacoma Daily Ledger dated Thursday, July 2, 1925, with pictures of a bullet-riddled car. The headline read, “Buckley’s first bank robbery ended in bloody failure.”

The mayor said with laugh, “Yep, that was our first and last bank robbery.”

The bank is still there – the name Citizen’s State Bank of Buckley carved in its stone wall – but the building now houses a coin collector shop called State Bank Coin.

Other businesses include a Curves fitness center for women, Ground Zero Tattoo & Body Piercing, a bank and a museum.

The Foothills Historical Society Museum displays the local logging history.

The museum is open Wednesdays and Thursdays noon-4 p.m. and Sundays 1-4 p.m.


Population: 4,510 (2004)

Growth 1980-1990: 13 percent

Households: 1,455

Owner-occupied housing: 75 percent

School district: White River

Town founded: Mid-19th century; incorporated in 1890

Original area industries: Lumber and coal

On the agenda at the city’s planing commission: Growth Management Act Transportation Plan and Critical Areas Ordinance

Major upcoming event: Downtown Harvest Festival, Oct. 8

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