Lester was a small town near Stampede Pass, just south of Snoqualmie Pass in King County, founded in 1892 by the Northern Pacific Railway (now the BNSF Railway ).
In their 1892 Annual Report, the Northern Pacific wrote: "A new yard has been constructed at Lester, on the Cascade Division, at the foot of the maximum grade, with brick roundhouse, turntable, suitable coal chute, and combination station."
In 1902, a series of railway-related fires burned more than 30,000 acres of timber, significantly hindering ongoing logging in the area.
History states that the town was originally named Deans after the Dean's Lumber Co., but after the establishment of a large depot, roundhouse, coal dock and other steam locomotive support facilities, was renamed "Lester" after Lester Hansacker, a telegraph operator with the Northern Pacific. While the origin of both names is unclear, the Northern Pacific's telegraph call for Lester was "DM," which lends credence to the Dean's Mill theory.
The logging industry in the area remained for many years, starting with Dean's Lumber Co. In 1948, Soundview Pulp Co. established a logging camp at Lester, and later Soundview was merged into the Scott Paper Company. The Scott camp was one of the last in King County, closing in 1978.
The town itself lasted until 1984, when mothballing of the rail line across Stampede Pass and legislation sponsored by the City of Tacoma, Washington, killed off the town. The rail line over Stampede Pass was reopened in 1996 by the BNSF Railway and is still in use.
At one time Lester had a population of 1000 with 110 houses, hotel, school and train depot. Much of what was Lester is now gone.
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