Welcome to Leavenworth, WA! At just around 2,000 people, the town may be tiny, but it’s certainly got a big reputation. As a small turn-of-the-century timber town, it soon gained acclaim as the headquarters for the Great North Railroad. Sadly, after the railroad relocated just a little over a decade later, Leavenworth’s economy plummeted. It took nearly 40 years for the community rally together to find ways to revitalize the struggling town. The Leavenworth Improvement for Everyone (AKA “LIFE”) Committee was formed to explore creative ways to get the place back on its feet. Then comes Ted Price and Bob Rodgers, two Seattle businessmen, with one heck of an idea…a theme town.
Price and Rodgers took some members of the committee down to Solvang, California, a Danish-themed town that was a hotspot for tourists. The committee was sold. Leavenworth was going to become a “theme town.” The first building that went up in the traditional Bavarian design was the Chikamin Hotel, which was renamed “Edelweiss” (the Bavarian state flower).
Today, Leavenworth is an incredibly popular tourist destination. Home to a Nutcracker Museum (which houses over 5,000 nutcrackers!), a massive annual Oktoberfest, and it’s been declared “the Ultimate Holiday Town” in America.
Today when you visit you’ll see that it quite literally is a Bavarian village trapped in time in the American Pacific Northwest.