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History of Lynden, Washington

Perched above the fertile Nooksack Valley with a view of Mt. Baker to the east, the Lynden area was first settled by miners who had passed through the area en route to the Caribou Gold Rush in 1858.

One of the first settlers was Colonel William Patterson, who homesteaded near the present-day downtown Lynden and the Nooksack River . In 1871, Lynden pioneers Holden and Phoebe Judson settled in Lynden, arriving via the Nooksack River by canoe with an Indian guide. They found a heavily wooded area with a Native American settlement along the creek, the area where the City Park is now located. Originally from Ohio , the Judsons traveled west as a newly married couple “in search of an ideal home.”

In her widely published book, “A Pioneer's Search for an Ideal Home,” Phoebe Judson recounts tales of her trip west and their settlement in the Nooksack Valley wilderness. The Judsons were primarily responsible for the burgeoning trade in early Lynden and for educating the Native American and white children in the area through the first “public” school located in their home. The forerunner of Western Washington University , now located in Bellingham, was the Northwest Normal School in Lynden founded in 1886.

Steamboats plied the Nooksack River as early as 1881, and a ferry across the Nooksack increased traffic on the Guide Meridian Road, along the west entrance of the present town which follows a meridian. All of these improvements led to a rapid increase in population of the town. Lynden was incorporated in 1891, two years after Washington's statehood, and Holden Judson served as the city's first mayor.

The city was named by Phoebe Judson after Hohenlinden, a poem by T. Campbell, stating, "On Linden, when the sun was low, all bloodless lay the untrodden snow; And dark as winter was the flow of Iser rolling rapidly." According to her book, "A Pioneer's Search for the Ideal Home," she changed the spelling of Linden so it would look prettier. Holden and Phoebe Judson are buried in Lynden Cemetery at Lynden's entrance.

Another early settler of the area was Hans Berthusen, who homesteaded just northwest of town. He bequeathed his farm to the city which is now known and used as “Berthusen Park.” It is complete with Berthusen's original barn, picnic area, and the site for the Antique Tractor and Machinery Show in July. The city's Dutch heritage was established as settlers from Holland started to arrive in the early 1900s, many by way of the Midwest.

With the Dutch came a hardy work ethic and a reputations for cleanliness -- still see today. Lynden celebrated its centennial in 1991 with the theme, “100 Good Years.” The Lynden Pioneer Museum on Front Street established during the country's bicentennial year, celebrates the community's past and arranges activities for the young and old alike.

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