"Twin Peaks" fans still turn up to check out bustling North Bend

North Bend is a town of first impressions.

The town, on the north bend of the south fork of the Snoqualmie River, was once known as Mountain View, which might be more appropriate since the visage of Mount Si dominates the surrounding valley.

The economy was originally based on logging. But the last sawmill closed in 1989. It's now become a thriving suburb about a half-hour commute from Seattle and the Eastside, with outlet stores and light industry. Nintendo operates a distribution center off of Bendigo Boulevard that houses the eagerly sought-after Wii game consoles.

North Bend's Factory Stores, comprising 50 outlet shops, are now the greatest revenue generators.

Tour buses full of shoppers, bargain hunters and overseas tourists have made the factory outlet stores a popular consumer destination.

North Bend is a popular choice of first-time homeowners as it offers more affordable housing options when compared with the Eastside or Seattle while combining the feel of a small town.

Many of these homebuyers are also parents. According to the 2000 census, 37 percent of the population has children living at home under the age of 18, one of the highest concentrations on the Eastside.

According to figures compiled by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median price of a home in the area stretching east from Lake Sammamish out to North Bend was $509,000 in November, up 10.7 percent from the year before.

Maisie Davis, co-owner of the Crown Christmas Tree Farm, has been living in the area since the 1930s. Sitting alongside a wood-burning stove in the farm's gift shop, Davis said that the town has grown quite a bit from the tiny mill village that she remembers of only about 300 people.

Despite many of the changes it still has its pastoral charm, she said.

"We like the rural atmosphere. The idea of living in urban density doesn't interest us," Davis said.

Today, nearly 5,300 people call North Bend home. In 1990 that number was 2,500. Pasture land and small farms have given way to new homes, stores and businesses.

A water moratorium has limited the amount of new development and will continue until the city can obtain increased water rights.

New-home construction has been mostly confined to sites that once had older houses that have been torn down, or to sites that had obtained water rights before the moratorium went into effect.

It's common to see groups of 5 to 10 newer homes nestled alongside century-old houses and 1960s ramblers.

Forster Woods and Rock Creek Ridge are two of largest developments to be built in recent years. Forster Woods, south of Interstate 90. has more than 200 single-family residences. Rock Creek Ridge has 233 apartment units.

North Bend was given a brief taste of fame in the early 1990s when the town was chosen as the primary filming location for the surrealistic television series "Twin Peaks".

Although the show was short-lived, fans still make pilgrimages to Twede's Café, a downtown landmark. Assuming the name of the Double R Diner, the restaurant was the scene of many of the indoor shots in the series and is home to the "Famous Twin Peaks Cherry Pie."

The surrounding countryside attracts residents and visitors alike. For decades Seattle-area students have gotten their first taste of nature by going to Camp Waskowitz, a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

Nearby Rattlesnake Lake and the Iron Horse Trail are popular destinations and 4,167-foot Mount Si has captured the attention of generations of residents and visitors alike.

North Bend was given a brief taste of fame in the early 1990s with the filming of the television series, "Twin Peaks." Fans still make pilgrimages to Twede's Caf, a downtown landmark, which was known as the Double R Diner in the TV series. (ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES)
North Bend

Population: 5,281 (2006 est.)

Schools: North Bend is served by the Snoqualmie Valley School District

Distance from downtown Seattle: 31 miles

Recreation: Mount Si, at 4,167 feet, overlooks the town and is a favorite hike generally accessible year round. It affords spectacular views of Seattle, Mount Rainier and other Cascade peaks.

Fun fact: North Bend was originally platted as Snoqualmie in 1889. The community later became known as Mountain View and finally, because of its location near the bend toward the north of the south fork of the Snoqualmie River, became the town of North Bend. The city incorporated March 12, 1909. U.S. Highway 10 and later Interstate 90 ran down North Bend's main street and central business district — before the bypass was completed in October 1978.

— Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf