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Step into the Past at Bellevue’s Kelsey Creek Community Farm

Bellevue’s Kelsey Creek Farm is probably one of the city’s most unique features. Of course they have the Bellevue Botanical Gardens and Mercer Slough Nature Park, but Kelsey Creek rings true to Bellevue’s historic roots.

Local Insight from JULIE BAKER

“Kelsey Creek Farm is a true treasure trove in the heart of Bellevue, with your round activities to enjoy. Its many trails, open lawn areas, farm animals, garden area and the creek itself are fun to explore. It feels like you’re a world away from downtown Bellevue, yet really just minutes away. The neighborhoods living around the far, in Wilburton, have benefited greatly from escalating home values the past several years, with the average sold price in the past 3 months 20% above the listed price and currently offers little to no inventory.”

KELSEY CREEK, A HISTORY

The history of the Kelsey Creek Community Park dates back to the wee dawning of the 1900’s. During this era in Seattle-area history, much of the area was still used for its abundance of timber and logging was a huge, local industry. Partners Wade Hewitt and Charles Lea purchased the property in the Wilburton area and created the Hewitt and Lea Logging Company, with which they mined the area’s timber until the early 1920s.

Although much of the 190-acre property was still uncleared and stump-covered – all but 5-acreas, actually – it was purchased by the Duey family in 1921, with the dream of clearing the land and using it to house a strong herd of dairy cows. After much effort – and hundreds of batches of bread later – the land was cleared, barns were built, and their dairy herd became a top milk-producer for the area, delivering “as many as 300 quarts of milk a day to Bellevue residents.”

The Dueys worked the land for many years, until selling during the depression-era. It changed hands a few times, but was ultimately purchased in 1942 by Mr. John Michaels, which expanded the existing herd of dairy cows.

At the draw of WWII, he sold the farmstead and the new owners phased our dairy production, instead focusing their homestead on raising Hereford beef cattle. They did this until the latter 1960s, at which time the area was experiencing a hefty boom in population and suburban development. Much of the surrounding area had been bought and developed into single family-style homes.

Although the family was courted several times by developers, they were hesitant to sell. The Fishers’ urban neighbors began petitioning the city to purchase the property and, when the petition passed, it was purchased by the city.

Although they ended up selling for a significantly reduced rate than they could have gotten from a private party, they are said to have been pleased with the outcome, because they “believed in preserving the beauty and legacy of the agricultural buildings and the land.”

KELSEY CREEK, TODAY

To this day, the site is home to many animals, including cows, goats, hogs, ducks, ponies, sheep, rabbits, geese, and chickens and is a great year-round treat for everyone! It draws an average of 200,000 people from the local and surrounding areas and is a fee-free way to enjoy a little history and see amazing animals.

VISITING KELSEY CREEK FARM

Open 365 days a year, the Kelsey Creek Community Park features 150-acres of forest, lush meadows, and wetlands. To the north is the Glendale Country Club.

The community park is wrought with features, including hiking and jogging trails, picnic areas, a playground, and open grassy meadows. A sandy play area sits near the center of the community park, south of the parking area.

The Kelsey Creek Farm boasts two historic barns, that sit on the hill, overlooking the shallow valleys to each side. These barns are restored to their original glory, are listed in the Washington State Heritage Barn Register, and were once home to the Twin Valley Dairy company.

Visiting the farm is fun and easy – and it’s located just minutes from Downtown Bellevue, with easy access of Hwy-405. Step back in time and immerse yourself with barnyard animals – often not found in today’s urban climate. This free resource is great for farm animal education and the unique-by-today’s-standards experience of “seeing farm animals in real life.”

Year-round programs at Kelsey Creek Park can be found on their website and are great experiences for people looking to add variety to their every day. Program vary by time of year, but they offer art programs, equine camps, and pony care and farm experiences. They offer an exciting alternative that offers insight into the days-of-old, where one might find themselves churning butter, grinding wheat, pimping water, and other fun things to help education young minds of the region’s rich past.

The Kelsey Creek Farm continues to be a great community mainstay for the Wilburton community and offers amazing opportunity for those interested in educational fun and a glimpse into the past.

Have you visited Kelsey Creek Community Park and Farm? What are your experiences? Share them in the comments below!


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