History of Arlington

Incorporated in 1903, the City of Arlington is located in northern Snohomish County approximately 10 miles north of Everett and 40 miles north of Seattle. The City of Arlington is situated at the forks of the Stillaguamish River. Coast Salish people from prehistoric times, primarily of the Stillaguamish Tribe, stopped to camp at the forks as they passed up and down the river following the abundant fish runs and otherwise using the river as a primary travel corridor. The Stillaguamish called the place Skabalko.

Early Settlers

Exploration of the future Arlington area by settlers of European descent began around 1851 with a prospector visit followed in 1856 by a U.S. Army trail from present day Snohomish crossing the river just below the forks. A rough wagon road closely following the old trail brought pioneers coming from the Marysville area in the mid-1880s; others came by canoe. A store was opened at the forks in the spring of 1887 by Nels K. Tvete and Nils C. Johnson. The White House Hotel owned by loggers Lee Rogers and Al Dinsmore opened about four months later.

Olympic Avenue

Town Rivalry

In the spring of 1890, two rival towns were actually platted within one month of each other in what is present-day Arlington. Arlington was platted in March of that year and Haller City in April. Haller City, including the store and hotel, was located on the riverbank with Arlington on higher ground to the south. It was Haller City which contained the much of City’s present-day shoreline areas since it was located along the river with Arlington farther inland.

Rivalry between the two towns continued for a several years, with Arlington apparently having a distinct advantage with respect to the location of a critical railroad depot. Haller City’s location along the river bank was not as suitable for a depot, so it was built on higher ground farther from the river, in Arlington. By year’s end, Arlington also had an express office, a warehouse, telegraph, and a post office while Haller City had a blacksmith, hay dealers, shoemakers, stage line, meat market, livery, hotel, and vet surgeon. By 1895, however, a number of businessmen in Haller City conceded that it would be better to be up in Arlington. Leading were Tvete and Johnson who moved their original general store by ox team up to a lot on 4th Street in Arlington, and others followed. Eventually, all that was left in Haller City were the shingles mills and housing.


The two towns were incorporated into one in May 1903 (taking the name of Arlington), with Division Street serving as a reminder that there were once two towns.

Smokey Point

The community of Smokey Point itself got its name back in the 1950s from a restaurant named the Smokey Point Café. Located on the northwest corner of 172nd Street NE and Smokey Point Boulevard/SR 531, the café generated a plume of smoke, hence the name Smokey Point. Smokey Point was annexed into the City of Arlington on October 1, 1999.

Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum

Website: https://www.stillymuseum.org/

The museum was built by the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneers Association to preserve artifacts of the north and south forks of the Stillaguamish River Valley. The museum has household, logging, diary, military, railroad, sports, medical, education, transportation and music items from the past. Plus thousands of historical photos keeping alive the heritage of the original homesteaders of the area. 

TIMBER! The Development of Arlington 1850-1920

This video was produced by Stillaguamish Valley Pioneers: