Memories of honest work

New Monroe museum could open in August

By Yoshiaki Nohara
Herald Writer
May 20th 2006



MONROE - Time turns a boy into a man. The man looks back and finds himself missing what the boy took for granted: landscape, morning air and even chores.

Time also works that form of magic called nostalgia. Milking cows was part of Jerry Senner's childhood. Born and raised on a Monroe dairy farm, he used to fill a galvanized steel can with milk and haul it to the roadside. "Kids today don't know where milk comes from," said Senner, 64.

Senner and others in the Skykomish Valley have formed a group to reconstruct and preserve parts of the area's history of agriculture, mining and transportation. The group recently reached an agreement with Snohomish County to open a new museum in a building at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe. The Western Heritage Center could open by late August, Senner said. Volunteers hope to raise $300,000 for the project, which involves expanding the fairgrounds building to about 7,000 feet from 2,500 square feet. The museum will feature hands-on activities and artifacts such as a miniature logging locomotive and old tractors, Senner said. Inside, a mock-up of a mineshaft will include the sound of dripping water. A cow model will allow people to try their hand at milking. "It will bring joy to a lot of old people who did that," Senner said. Volunteers are already having fun. On Tuesday, four people went to Senner's home in Snohomish to renovate an 8-foot-tall water wheel and check up on vintage tractors.

Gary Haack, 64, stood by a steam-engine tractor that will be renovated and put on display at the museum.

Haack grew up on a dairy farm watching logging locomotives pass, leaving a thick cloud of coal smoke behind them, he said.

Life was simple then. His family got up early, worked hard and ate together, Haack said. A sense of satisfaction came at sunset.

"There's certain nostalgia for working at a farm," Haack said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or