Mukilteo was the site of the Point Elliott Treaty that divided ownership of lands in the Puget
Ferry arriving at Mukilteo
Sound between the tribes and the U.S. government. Signed January 22, 1855 with 82 Native American chiefs, including Chief Seattle, the Point Elliott Treaty also set up fishing and hunting rights. But despite this event, the town would be isolated for decades by its distance from Seattle and poor roads.
The name itself alludes to the isolation: in the Snohomish dialect Muk-wil-teo means “narrow passage”, a reference to the sand spit that formed the original Mukilteo landing, which was surrounded by wetlands. Though the name is often said to mean “good camping ground,” Chief William Shelton of the Tulalip Tribes said it mean “a throat, a neck or a narrowing in a body of water” according to HistoryLink.
When Snohomish County was separated from Island County in 1860, Mukilteo would serve as the county seat for a brief six months before the county’s capital would be moved to Snohomish. A road existed to the south connecting the town to distant Seattle but no road existed to nearby Everett until the summer of 1914, so the town remained small despite construction of the lighthouse in 1906 and the building of a brewery, lumber mill and gunpowder factory.
As late as 1947, when Mukilteo was incorporated as a city, the population was only 775. But with the roads completed, the stage was set for further growth. That same year ferry service began to Whidbey Island, a route that now handles 3 million passengers per year. The Great Northern railway lines also ran through the center of town, connecting Vancouver to the north and Chicago to the east. And, Paine Field was completed and ready to become an aviation center.
A first annexation, which added to city boundaries to the south, would grow the city’s population to 4,130 in 1980. Then in 1991, the Harbour Pointe area, which is now the commercial center of the city, would be added and the population would more than double to 10,000. Today’s population is more than 20,000, with an annexation of portions of unincorporated Snohomish county planned that would add another 15,000 people.
Boeing Tour Center/Future of Flight Museum
8415 Paine Field Boulevard, Mukilteo, WA 98275
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., 7 days per week
More than 100,000 people visit the Boeing wide-body factory in Everett each year. The tour runs seven days a week starts at the Future of Flight Museum, which sits on a hill over the factory and Paine Field. The factory opened in 1967, originally having two production lines for wide-boy 747s.
Today it has six production lines and has added the 767, 777 and 787 aircraft to production.
Boeing Everett plant
Tours start with a video briefing at the Future of Flight museum, then are bused to the factory, entering through an underground tunnel. On the tour deck visitors will look down over wing production for the 747, see a cross-section of an early model 747, and also see assembly as it proceeds along a line of four planes.
The tour ends at the museum store, which has a large selection of aviation gifts and Boeing-logo products. The museum itself has a number of interactive displays concentrating on aspects of Boeing’s commercial airplanes.
Mukilteo Lighthouse Park
609 Front Street
Mukilteo, WA 98275
Once a poorly-resourced 14-acre state park, the city took over management of the park in 2003 and using state funds has restored the shore, adding fire pits that are popular after dark, parking facilities, a playground, a shoreline path and two pavilions with grills. In the summer the boat launch is a busy location.
The open area in the park is excellent for kite flying. Views from the park include both Whidbey
Mukilteo’s Lighthouse park, with a freight train passing in the background
Island to the west and Hat Island to the north. A large amount of boat traffic passes by at all times, ranging from the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry to tugs towing log booms or chip barges and aircraft carriers or destroyers heading for the Everett Homeport. Additionally, the park is flanked by two rail lines carrying Sounder commuter trains, Amtrak passenger trains, and regular Burlington-Northern freight trains.
The park is also used on Wednesdays in the summertime for a farmer’s market and parking quickly becomes overcrowded when the market is open.
Standing anywhere in the Harbour Pointe neighborhood at the south end of Mukilteo, imagine it as an oil refinery. The neighborhood is bounded by Harbour Pointe Boulevard, a semi-circular road just west of the Mukilteo Speedway.
What is now a mixed-used community was originally acquired by Standard Oil of California (its successor was Chevron Oil) in 1936 with the intent to build an oil refinery. By the 1930s it was already known that North Slope oil would someday be available from Alaska and a dearth of refining facilities on the West Coast caused Standard Oil to buy the area now covered by Harbour Pointe from Port Gamble Lumber Co., which had clear cut the area early in the 20th century.
Two things caused Standard Oil to change its plans. The first was the environmental battle during the 1960s over a proposed refinery north of Everett at Kayak Point, which ended in Richfield Oil cancelling the project. The second was development of the Anacortes, WA refinery with adequate capacity to search local markets.
After Boeing’s decision to build the wide-body plant in Everett, Standard Oil sold the property to Northwest Development Corp., which proceeded to build the golf course and a community of light industrial, commercial property, schools, apartments and single-family homes.
The area now houses Kamiak High School, the top academic high school in Snohomish County, as well as a middle school and two elementary schools. A new library, YMCA, fire station, police station and city hall are enclosed in the Harbour Pointe Boulevard semi-circle. The 3-mile long boulevard is a popular exercise trail with views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and Whidbey Island to the west.
Old Town Mukilteo
Old Town Mukilteo is the area above the railroad tracks that was once the center of the town.
The Rosehill Community Center (now scheduled for demolition after the new community center is finished) was once the first school. Today it is surrounded by a collection of small shops, including a used book store, coffee shop, confectionary and several restaurants. Next to the Rosehill Center stands a monument erected in 1931 to the Point Elliott Treaty.
Mukilteo totem pole
Being elevated above the ferry landing and state park, Old Town has an excellent view of the waterfront and railroad line. A totem pole stands along the Mukilteo Speedway (WA State 525).
A short half-mile includes Mukilteo’s Lighthouse Park; the Lighthouse itself; two restaurants; two
public docks; two beaches that are used actively by divers; the ferry dock; a hotel and an art center. Adjacent to the open areas of the waterfront is the old Air Force Tank Farm, a fuel storage facility that has been undergoing environmental cleanup and is scheduled to be converted to civilian use. The Mukilteo commuter train stop is adjacent to the tank farm.
The two public docks are actively used for fishing and crabbing. The area is popular among divers because of the steep dropoff and variety of crab, octopus, eels and fish species.
Festivals and other activities
Mukilteo Farmer’s Market
Lighthouse Park, 609 Front Street
Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival
Sept. 10-12, 2010
How to get there
Mukilteo is north of Seattle and just west of Everett, WA. From I-5 it can be reached from the north by going west on WA 526 (exit 189) about 5 miles to the Mukilteo Speedway (WA 525). Harbour Pointe will be to the left and the waterfront to the right (north).
From the south, exit I-5 at WA 525 (exit 181) and go north 5 miles.
Mukilteo is also accessible via the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry and by bus. Sounder commuter trains run south from Everett only in the morning and north from Seattle in the afternoon (except for special events such as baseball or football games). This video shows the connection between Sea-Tac and Mukilteo using Link light rail and the Sounder commuter train:
The area is popular with cyclists, having bike lanes on the major arterial routes. Though altitudes vary between sea level and 600’ above sea level, streets such as Harbour Pointe Boulevard and Mukilteo Boulevard are relatively flat.
Dining and Accommodations
All of Mukilteo’s hotels have been added within the past decade. They are listed here in proximity to the waterfront:
Silver Cloud Inn: waterfront location next to the ferry with vistas to the north
Towneplace Suites: just west of Boeing Tour Center
Staybridge Suites: indoor pool and located at the N end of the Harbour Pointe loop
Hilton Gardens Inn: adjacent to the Boeing Tour Center/Future of Flight museum
Extended Stay America: at the south end of the Harbour Pointe loop, next to Mukilteo City Hall
While there is no camping in Mukilteo, there are seven state parks with camping on nearby Whidbey Island.
The city has dozens of restaurants, many in the Harbour Pointe neighborhood. For other options, the Paine Field knol.
This list includes several of the leading Old Town and waterfront restaurants:
Arnie’s: seafood and American fare in Old Town, just above the railroad tracks and east of the Speedway.
Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing: seafood restaurant on the waterfront next to the ferry with excellent views from the bar and restaurant.
Diamond Knot Brewery: a brew-pub with peanut shells on the floor. Known locally for Diamond Knot IPA.
John’s Grill: American grill on Mukilteo Boulevard near the Rosehill Center
La Cascada Acapulco: Mexican cuisine on Second Street in Old Town
Other nearby attractions
Paine Field, immediately east of the city, has five different aviation museums, in addition to the Boeing Tour Center.
Picnic Point Park just south of the current city limits is a tidal park with acres of beach exposed at low tide. Hikers can walk miles to the south on the beach, past the Sunset Bay pier.
Just ½ mile north of Picnic Point Park is Shipwreck Point, the site of an old salvage yard for wooden ships that ceased operating about 1929. However, there is a large wooden hull above the waterline and a half-dozen hulls exposed at low tide. WARNING: Shipwreck Point is private property.
“10 Best Places to Live” (2009)
Mukilteo History (Margaret Riddle, Dec. 29, 2007)
Mukilteo Historical Society
Mukilteo Lighthouse History (2008)
Mukilteo Tank Farm
Last edited 10/25/2010