Seattle's Child

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A Parent’s Review: Fraser Cabin Heritage Program at Kelsey Creek Park

Kelsey Creek Park is an Eastside gem. My family has enjoyed its trails, playground, and picnic tables on many occasions. On our most recent visit, we took advantage of one of the park's drop-in programs and explored the park's historic Fraser Cabin.

The 16 by 16 foot log cabin was originally built in 1888 in the Northup area. In 1974, the structure was relocated to the farm. The rustic cabin is the oldest home on the Eastside and offers a fascinating glimpse into the area's past.

My 8-year-old daughter is currently enthralled with the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie, so she was especially interested in the pioneer clothing and other artifacts in the cabin. She completed a Fraser Cabin scavenger hunt searching inside and out for items like a butter churn, long saw and plow.

Outside, the girls watched cream turn into butter, and tried their hand at pumping water and using a washboard to clean rags. My youngest mastered a game of tossing pine cones into a basket. The program is presented by the Eastside Heritage Center in partnership with Bellevue Parks and Community Services, and volunteers are on hand to answer questions about the life of early settlers.

The farm itself also has an interesting history. The area was leased and cleared in 1921 and called Twin Valley Farm, named for the two valleys that sit on either side of the farm. Until the dairy closed in 1942, the Duey family delivered bottled milk, cream, and homemade butter to area residents. It was taken over in 1944 and turned into a cattle farm until the City of Bellevue acquired the property in 1968. Today, Kelsey Creek, named for H.E. Kelsey, a school teacher who moved to the area in 1884, operates as a working farm for families to visit.

No visit to Kelsey Creek Park is complete without saying hello to the resident animals. They are available for viewing 365 days a year including weekends and holidays. The star attraction is Joy, an enormous pig. (Be sure to read the fun pig-related facts on the inside walls of her enclosure. Did you know New York's Wall Street is so named because of errant swine?) Rabbits, a crazy assortment of chickens, wooly sheep, and horses all call the farm home.

If you can't make it to the next Heritage presentation at the farm, "Treasure Box" kits with hands-on activities that bring Eastside history to life are available to rent from the education department of the Eastside Heritage Center, and the center also offers educational presentations to schools and groups for a fee.

 

IF YOU GO

Where: Kelsey Creek Community Park, 410 130th Pl SE, Bellevue.

When: Open dawn to dusk daily, public viewing of animals 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.  The next Fraser Cabin Program is September 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

Cost: Free. Donations gladly accepted

Contact: 425-452-7688; www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/kelsey_creek_park.htm; http://eastsideheritagecenter.org/education.html


Laura Spruce Wight is a Seattle-area freelance writer and mother of two.

About the Author

Laura Spruce Wight