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'Poetry in Motion' Remembering the Issaquah Skyport

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that we are on the Indigenous Land of Coast Salish peoples who have reserved treaty rights to this land, specifically the Duwamish (dxʷdəwʔabš) and Snoqualmie Indian Tribes (sdukʷalbixʷ). We thank these caretakers of this land who have lived, and continue to live here since time immemorial.

Issaquah and Sammamish have always been important to the Snoqualmie Tribe, and the stories in this exhibit take place on that land.

Issaquah

Issaquah, Washington, is a city 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of Seattle. Part of Issaquah’s recent history includes becoming home to Costco’s world headquarters. But what was there before? Just seven years prior to the wholesale store opening its doors in 1994, the land was used as a recreational airfield called the Issaquah Skyport, and had been used for flight purposes since the early 1940s.

The Exhibit

This exhibit revolves around the Issaquah Skyport. But beyond that narrative lies a complex and important history of land use and ownership, along with all of the emotional connections we humans make with places around us, whether or not they still exist as they once did.

The Purpose of Place

Places are key in molding an individual, a community, a nation’s identity. For example, the Eiffel Tower has become synonymous with France; the Space Needle with Seattle. Whether a monument, a building, a particular tree, your favorite coffee shop nook—these are all things that nestle themselves in our minds and form a direct link with our sense of a given place. Usually, sites like these imply some sense of stability—you can count on them being there. But what happens when we lose a place that was once considered the defining feature of a town?

History tells us that meaningful places are stolen, burned to the ground, or repurposed all the time, but the fact that landscapes are subject to flux due to human agency arguably makes it more important to explore the meanings they once held. Keep this in mind as you explore the exhibit and learn all the ways the Skyport was meaningful to some, and a nuisance to others.

Community is really at the heart of this topic, which is why we interviewed individuals who saw the Skyport in action, be it as a spectator, participant, or pilot. We thank these community members who have helped inform our understanding of the Skyport and what it meant to those who encountered it: David Anderson, Thomas Curran, Robin Kelley, and Tricia Tamura.

Table of Contents

There will be buttons at the bottom of each page for ease of navigation between chapters.

Chapter 1: The Introduction sets the stage for the exhibit, discussing the meaning of the land used for the Skyport operation.

Chapter 2: ‘That Issaquah Feeling’ chronicles the heyday of the Skyport, including its various names, games, and operations. Plus: learn about the Skyport's connection with the unsolved mystery of D.B. Cooper.

Chapter 3: For Flight’s Sake dives into the heated battle between residents on whether to save the Skyport or pave it in favor of a business park, accompanied by a visual timeline at the end.

Chapter 4: What Remains explores the local impact of the loss of this iconic airfield: how do we grow to be so attached to a location? What happens when we lose an important site? What defines Issaquah in the Skyport's absence?

A parachuter floats down from a jump, circa 1968.

All images are part of the Issaquah History Museums' collection, unless specifically written otherwise.

This virtual exhibit was made possible with a grant from the City of Issaquah's Arts Commission.