Why we have that weird intersection at Mashell and Center

Celebration of the 1st train to arrive in Eatonville, 1904
Celebration of the 1st train to arrive in Eatonville, 1904

The intersection at Mashell and Center is an odd one —  Center almost lining up with itself, but not quite. Makes you wonder if the town planners had one too many beers that night. The real reason, I’ve heard though, was that it was the town’s well behind the weird intersection. The well was vital and the road had to move around it.

Getting Water
Here is a piece that ran in a 1936 issue of the Dispatch:

Paul Haynes favored The Dispatch with a view of some treasured photographs, newspaper pictures and clipping belonging to his daughter, Mrs. Otto Haynes. One of theses showed a picture published in The Dispatch, or its predecessor many years ago, depicting a scene of the center of Eatonville activities at the time.

Groe Hotel — was located approximately where Center and Madison meet
Groe Hotel — was located approximately where Center and Madison meet

In the foreground is the only well of water in the settlement, located, we are told, about where Mashell avenue and Groe [Center] street now intersect. Close by is the Pioneer Hotel, operated by Frank M. Groe, built all of “split lumber,” we are informed by Mr. Haynes, who built it for Groe. The hotel had ten bedroom upstairs, with a kitchen, dining room and sitting room downstairs. Another building in the picture is a shack which housed the saloon, also operated by Groe, and adjoining the hotel, with packhorses standing around in close vicinity to the well, hotel and saloon.

The well was about 20 feet deep, contained good water and was the only source of supply for the inhabitants. The well was equipped with an apparatus unknown to most of the present day population of Eatonville, a “sweep.”

Town Pump article, 1936, Eatonville Dispatch
Town Pump article, 1936, Eatonville Dispatch

The sweep lightened the labor of pulling up buckets of water. It consisted of a long pole mounted on a stationary post in such a way that it pivoted on the post. At one end fo the pole was attached a rope and bucket, and it was weighted down at the other by stones in a container also attached to the pole. When the drawer of water used the sweep he upped down on the rope, raising the weighted end of the pole, and let the bucket down into the well. With the bucket full, the rope was released and the weight of the stones raised the bucket with only slight guidance by the user.

So, next time you’re making a weird jog on Center street across Mashell, you’re making your way around a well that provided water for a young Eatonville.

Photo courtesy of the Dispatch, Pat Van Eaton, Haynes Family.

Click on images to enlarge.

7 responses to “Why we have that weird intersection at Mashell and Center”

      • Well, that is a deep subject !!! I used to work at a retail builing mat’ls store, I would sell people all their fencing needs, Then I would ask them if they wanted the post holes to go with their posts, I told them we bought an old well and we cut it up into post holes… beleive it or not, some people weactually wanted to buy them.. Scary huh ?? :<))


  1. There was also a railroad grade that went through the intersection that went from the Tacoma Eastern out to the Royce Mill. A map showing the line and streets is in “Rails To Paradise” the history of the Tacoma Eastern (page 413). That map shows the grade crossing making an X in the intersection, going through where we remember Christianson’s and the bank.I had thought for a long time that was why the intersection was a little hinky but the well story makes it even more interesting.


    • I’ll have to check the Eatonville map for rails. I know there was a rail that went up to Eatonville cutoff — or so I’ve heard. Pat Van Eaton has a GREAT map of the town very early on.


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