Small-town life is Snoqualmie's biggest attraction

At 270 feet high, Snoqualmie Falls is the main attraction that draws tourists to Snoqualmie, a city 30 miles east of Seattle.

But it's the small-town feel that draws residents.

"It's a pretty peaceful area, really kind of low-down," said Josie Moderow, 18, who works at the gift shop overlooking the falls.

The city's population — 6,345 in April — is nearly four times what it was in 2000. It ranks highest in Washington among cities and towns by percent change in population, according to the Washington state Office of Financial Management.

The average price for home resales in Snoqualmie rose 59 percent during the same five years, from $238,900 in the first quarter of 2000 to $380,400 in the first quarter of 2005, according the King County Assessor's Office.

The planned community of Snoqualmie Ridge includes homes ranging in price from $360,000 to $1 million. It has a retail plaza with restaurants, a veterinary office, a hair salon, and more.

Grant Marohnich, 38, said he bought his 2,700-square-foot home at Snoqualmie Ridge after he found comparable homes in Issaquah Highlands had smaller yards and cost more.

In the Parkview neighborhood of Snoqualmie Ridge, homebuilder CamWest started selling its 20 single-family homes in April. At the end of July, four were left. The 3,000-square-foot homes sell in the mid-$600,000s.

"Most people like [Snoqualmie] because of what it offers," said Nancy Backman, a John L. Scott Real Estate agent who bought a home in Snoqualmie Ridge two blocks from her office. "It's a comfortable place to live."

An elementary school set to open this fall and easy access to Interstate 90 are pluses, too, Backman said.

Randy Dirks and his wife, Kristin, moved to Snoqualmie in 2003 to get a home large enough for five kids. They bought a five-bedroom, 4,300-square-foot home at Snoqualmie Ridge.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, at the Snoqualmie Community Park, Randy Dirks was playing basketball with three of the couple's sons.

Nearby, his wife was watching their 14-month-old son and the family's black Labrador retriever.

The town is a great location for the Dirkses. Randy Dirks, 41, a sales director in Issaquah, can get to work in 10 to 15 minutes. At home, he can enjoy the benefits of small-town life.

The Dirkses' children will go to Cascade View Elementary School, next to the community park, when the school opens in the fall.

"They'll be able to ride their bikes and walk up the hill," she said. "That's going to be perfect."

Seung Hwa Hong: 206-464-3347 or


This city in the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains has grown nearly fourfold in the past five years.

Population: 6,345 (April 2005)

Schools: Mount Si High School, Snoqualmie Middle School, Snoqualmie Elementary, Cascade View Elementary (opens this fall)

Housing: 69.3 percent owner-occupied, 26.9 percent renter-occupied, 3.8 percent vacant; average price in first quarter 2005 was $380,400

Nearby medical facilities: Snoqualmie Valley Hospital

Shopping: Downtown Snoqualmie's antique, flower and gift shops; Mexican, Italian and traditional restaurants; a candy shop with a lunch counter, and a micro brewery; Factory Stores at North Bend

David Turim, staff researcher