Tollgate Farm has been an important community center for thousands of years, serving as hunting grounds for native peoples, before becoming a military fort, a hotel and store, a dairy farm, and an orchard. Today the farm includes community trails and playground, as well as pastureland.
Community members are coming together again to restore one of its most iconic sections—the Tollgate Farmhouse—and envision a park with both recreation amenities and a hub for sustainable agriculture.
Long History of Community Gathering
For thousands of years, the area that is now Tollgate Farm was on an important Native American travel route from Puget Sound to the Cascade Mountains. Local tribes also cultivated these lowland areas through proscribed burning to create open prairie to improve game habitat and to cultivate camas, a dietary staple.
In 1851, Samuel Hancock became the first Euro-American visitor to the Valley. The Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road was completed in 1865, crossing the South Fork Snoqualmie River at the Tollgate site. This heavily used road hosted Native Americans, Euro-Americans, miners, trappers, cattle drivers, explorers, railroad people, soldiers, business entrepreneurs, farmers, and tourists. Joseph and Lucinda Fares became the first homesteaders at Tollgate Farm in 1867, just five years after the passing of the Homestead Act. The Fares constructed a house and log barn and began to cultivate the area. Changes came in 1883 when the Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road – the future Interstate 90 – became a toll road and Tollgate Farm received its name.
Conserving the Farm for Generations to Come
In 2000, Tollgate Farm was slated to become an office park and housing. North Bend officials and citizens rallied to save it. The Trust for Public Land, King County, and City of North Bend worked to raise the funds to conserve the property and in late 2001 the farm was acquired for public ownership and enjoyment.
Tollgate Farmhouse Restoration
Today, 367 acres of the farm are owned by King County and City of North Bend. Si View Parks District manages the farm, and recently received $150,000 from the King County Saving Landmarks grant program to rehabilitate and restore the iconic Tollgate Farmhouse built in 1890.
In addition to restoring the farmhouse, Si View Metropolitan Parks is exploring ways to incorporate sustainable agriculture. There are many possibilities, including an incubator CSA (Community Shared Agriculture), a new storefront located in the Tollgate Farmhouse, and a direct farmer-to-market distribution center. Longer term ideas include incorporating education and recreation programming, diversifying the farming to include chickens, pigs, and sheep, and hay production.
As Tollgate Farm changes, it will continue to be what it has always been: a center for community.