Concrete, Washington

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Why does the town of Concrete exist?  I’ll give you one guess.

That’s right.  Concrete.  This small town at the western edge of the Cascade Mountains boomed back in the first decade of the 20th century, thanks to the need for concrete, used in building the hydroelectric dams upstream.

Concrete’s concrete history is what first greets you, as you arrive in town from the west, on Washington Route 20. Next to the highway, a huge set of concrete silos are emblazoned with a welcome to the town.

Oddly enough, there’s also a miniature representation of the larger silos, to welcome you to the park where you’ll be welcomed to the town.  It, too, is made of concrete.  Noticing a theme here?

Concrete was originally known as “Cement City”, until it merged with another nearby town, Baker, in 1909.
The Concrete Silo marks the beginning of a “historic byway” through town, which takes you past many of Concrete’s important historical buildings.

One such building is the “Superior Building”, built in 1920 to serve as the administrative office of the Superior Cement Company, and later, the Lone Star Portland Cement Company.  It’s fenced off now, but it appears that restoration efforts are underway. As you can see, it’s located directly behind, and slightly up the hill, from the silo.

The drive continues on Main Street, through downtown Concrete, where you can see buildings that inspire varying levels of excitement (check the Drivelapse video to see the entire drive through town).

On your way through town, be sure you cross Baker River on Main Street, instead of on Washington Route 20.  If you do, you’ll be passing over the Henry Thompson Bridge, which was the longest single-span concrete bridge in the world, when it was completed in 1918.  Up until 1972, this was the only bridge to connect eastern Skagit County with the rest of the world.

I stopped in Marblemount, the next town as you head east on WA 20, on my return trip, later on in this day.  You can jump ahead to Marblemount here.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive through downtown Concrete, then on through Marblemount, to Newhalem, via WA 20:

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