After we bought our house on Cottage Lake in 1999, we uncovered an old wall board signed by the original owner in 1937. That discovery spurred us into doing some research on the history of our house as well as the Cottage Lake area in general.
This simple curiosity started a several-year research project. It began with joining the local historical society to find out anything they knew about Cottage Lake’s history. We were quickly dismayed to find that, while there was a lot of information on the history of Seattle and Woodinville, there was very little, if anything, written or published on the history of Cottage Lake. Trying to find old photographs of Cottage Lake was equally as challenging, which seemed odd for such a picturesque location.
Our research project involved locating and interviewing old-time Cottage Lake residents (some now deceased), digging up old newspaper articles, researching old property records, taking a class on researching your local history and researching and tapping into other local historical resources.
Here’s what we learned about Cottage Lake’s history:
Prior to the 1800’s and well before the appearance of white settlers, the Simump Tribe lived in the area along the Squak Slough (today’s Sammamish River). They didn’t live on Cottage Lake, but traveled east from what is now known as Hollywood Hills along the southern side of Cottage Lake (approximately the location of today’s NE 165th Street) to what we now know as Avondale Road. Then they traveled north to what is now Woodinville-Duvall Road and then east and south to Carnation, the headquarters of the Snohomish Indian tribe.
In my research I found home owners along the lake that had found many Indian artifacts in support of this history, including a very interesting story of a female Indian ghost who is a frequent visitor to one home along the shoreline.
While the first white settlers arrived in Seattle in 1851, the first to settle in the Cottage Lake area arrived in 1876, taking advantage of the new Homestead Act. The first property was homesteaded in 1876, with a log house located over the west ridge of Cottage Lake built by the Nielsen family. It was restored in the 1990s and is still occupied to this day.
The second historic Cottage Lake house was built by Ezra Jurey in 1891 and was located on the south shore of Cottage Lake. Ezra belonged to the local Grange and frequently entertained local residents at his South Cottage Lake home.
Logging & Railroads Comes to Cottage Lake Area
In the 1880s Woodinville was developing into a town with its own post office and church. The lumber industry arrived and many mills were built, followed by the development of the railroads that transported logs to market. Washington became a state in 1889 and Woodinville got its first permanent school, followed by several stores, hotels and saw mills. The original section of Woodinville was located just west of the current downtown Woodinville across the railroad tracks on NE 173rd Place.
Around 1886, William Perrigo, a Redmond pioneer, set up several outposts of his Redmond Trading Post; one of which was located on the south end of Cottage Lake on the south side of NE 165th Street. The building could still be seen up until the 1980s. Logging was a booming industry in the area in late 1890’s.
Logging was a booming industry in the area in late 1890’s. Cottage Lake School was built in 1899 in the center of a logging community located around the current Reintree housing area. Soon afterwards, the surrounding land was cleared of most of its timber and more families began moving into the area, building homes and farming the land.
Roads, Telephones &Vacationers Arrive
The original road from Woodinville to Cottage Lake ran along the south end of the Lake east from Hollywood Hills along what is now 165th to Avondale Road (The same path traveled by the early Indians).
In 1920, Cottage Lake homes finally got electricity and telephones, with help from Cottage Lake Civic Club. At this time Gus Erickson bought the property stretching along the north end of Cottage Lake and started a family resort business there. The Woodinville-Duvall Road was paved in 1930, which brought visitors from Seattle to Erickson’s Lake Resort in the country where they enjoyed swimming, boating and fishing. There was also another resort on the south end of the lake called Camp Comfort (formerly called Cedar Grove Resort) where the Cottage Lake Beach Club is now located.
In 1937 the Seitmans bought part of the Ezra Jurey property on the southwest shore of Cottage Lake and started a dairy business called the Highlander Dairy. The old milking house and barn are still intact and are currently part of Bassetti’s Crooked Arbor Gardens.
In 1942 Norm Fragner bought Gus Erickson’s family resort, improved it over time and re-opened it under the name of “Norm’s Resort.” It was a well known destination place and the location of many corporate picnics and events over the years. Many local residents have fond memories of their summers spent at Norm’s Resort.
In 1959, Leno Bassett bought the Seitman property on the south end of Cottage Lake and ran a landscape supply business where he sold peat, manure and other soil mixtures. Since there was a natural peat bog on the property, Leno obtained a permit from the county to harvest the peat. The present day Bassett Pond, which is now part of , resulted from digging out the peat.
In the mid-1970s Bruce McCain, a marine biologist working for NOAA, lived in the Jurey house and took the first water samples of Cottage Lake, discovering an abnormally high phosphorus content. He and other Cottage Lake residents revitalized the Friends of Cottage Lake to focus on water quality issues.
In 1979, Norm’s Cottage Lake Resort closed, following Norm Fragner’s death. The resort was sold to American Adventures, which built an outdoor swimming pool and operated the property as a members-only recreational vehicle park. It subsequently closed in 1989 and King County bought the property for $1.8 million in 1991 with funds from an open space bond issue. Cottage Lake Park opened to the public in 1992, with extensive renovations carried out in 1997, adding a new fishing pier, a trail system including a boardwalk through the wetlands area, a new picnic shelter, a children’s play area, restrooms and habitat restoration along Cottage Lake Creek.
Cottage Lake Today
Today many houses surround the shoreline of Cottage Lake, including a subdivision on the south end called the Cottage Lake Beach Club whose members share a community beach and park area.
There is also a non-profit organization called the Friends of Cottage Lake, comprised of active volunteers who work with the county and state in improving the water quality of the lake. They are currently working on reducing the phosphorus content of the lake, as well as combating non-native water lilies and newly discovered milfoil within in the lake.
, is now a King County park, located on the north end of the lake is enjoyed by the public and provides public access to the lake, which is stocked with trout at the beginning of each fishing season. No combustible engines are allowed on the lake, but human powered boats such as canoes and kayaks are welcome.
Parts of this article first appeared in the ‘Welcome to Cottage Lake’ booklet co-published in 2010 by King County DNRP and Friends of Cottage Lake using grant funding from the Washington Department of Ecology.