North Bend: not a name of first choice


William H. Taylor and a friend cut 20,083 hops poles in the winter of 1881-82 in Snoqualmie. He also peeled vegetables and washed dishes at the mines in Newcastle. He was a logger, a California gold miner, a large landowner, a builder of houses and the man who platted the town of North Bend in 1889.

And it was Taylor, an armchair traveler, who gave several narrow dirt streets in the then-tiny town their unusual names - Bendigo, Ballarat and Sidney.

Taylor, described as a restless, exuberant man, had a passion for Australia and was reading a book on that continent when he platted the town.

Sidney is the capital of Australia's state of New South Wales; Bendigo is a town in the central upland of the state of Victoria, named for a local prizefighter who compared his prowess to an English pugilist known as Bendigo. And Ballarat, a name derived from the two aboriginal words meaning "resting place," is a city in central Victoria.

According to Ada S. Hill's "A History of the Snoqualmie Valley," Taylor later lamented over his selection of street names and wished he had chosen names of local pioneers.

Even the name North Bend was not of his choosing.

When the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railroad was being built across Snoqualmie Pass, the company wanted a town located at the site of today's North Bend. So Taylor and his wife, Mary, quickly platted part of his large farm as the town of Snoqualmie.

At the same time, other men in the valley had purchased land, made elaborate plans for a town and named it Snoqualmie Falls. When the time came to build a railroad depot, Taylor was in California and the businessmen downriver persuaded railroad officials to build it in their town because of its proximity to Snoqualmie Falls and to the huge hop farms on the east edge of town.

The railroad folks thought it would be too confusing to have two names so similar and told Taylor to rename his town. For a while it was called Mountain but soon, because the Snoqualmie River turned north at that point, the railroad suggested the name North Bend.

That stuck.

Born in Linn County, Iowa, in 1853, Taylor arrived in the Snoqualmie Valley with a cousin's family in 1872. In short time, the industrious young man moved from place to place in the valley, cutting timber for $15 an acre and building trails and working at other part-time jobs.

Then, at 23, he went to California to mine with an uncle; left there for a while and returned in 1878. A year later, Jeremiah Borst, often called the father of the Snoqualmie Valley, beckoned to Taylor to return to the valley and take over a farm Borst had bought. The farm would be payment to Taylor for work he had done earlier.

Taylor married Mary Beard in California and traveled back to the valley, where his wife gave birth to their first child, William, and later five more. He farmed for a time and moved to Fall City in 1888.

From 1888 to 1891 he served as a King County commissioner and was one of the last territorial commissioners before Washington attained statehood in 1889. During that time, he was responsible for the construction of bridges over the Snoqualmie River at Meadowbrook, over the Middle Fork and in Fall City.

Over the years, Taylor bought more land, built houses, operated farms, established a general store on his Bendigo Street and donated three-fourths of a block in the town for a grade school, on which the North Bend Library now stands, and land for a church on which the North Bend Community Church was built.

At 76, he spearheaded construction of a trail to the top of Mount Si. The trail was later named in his honor.

Taylor died on Jan. 9, 1941.

Louis T. Corsaletti's phone message number is 206-515-5626. His e-mail address is