You would probably recognize the Carnation name off of a can of sweetened condensed milk. After all, that’s the origin of the town’s name. But some locals prefer the original name: Tolt.

Occupying just over one square mile with a population of 2,220, you wouldn’t be the first to dismiss Carnation as a blip on a map. For the past century, the main street of Tolt Avenue has been less of a Disneyland-kind-of main street and more of a rugged thoroughfare. But over the years, passionate Carnationites banded together to elevate Tolt Avenue to the charming main street it is today.


Millions of acres of American wetlands have been destroyed since the late 1700s, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Early settlers viewed wetlands as disease-ridden swamps that impeded travel and agricultural development. Their solution was to drain the wetlands and turn them into farmable land.

In the mid 1960s, the port was growing in Tacoma. Shipping channels were being expanded, and more land was needed for industrial activities. Like many wetlands in the area, Wapato Creek was diverted into a channelized ditch. Its former path was filled with material removed from the waterways, solving both the need for expanded waterways and more land. The channelized ditch ran along 12th Street East in Fife, then followed Alexander Avenue west to a culvert that feeds into Blair Waterway.


In front of the community movie theater in Friday Harbor, a perch welcomes anyone who passes by. It’s not your everyday park bench: it’s sculpted granite, refined in its well-formed lines and polished surfaces, yet preserving a natural form in its organic waves and cu­rves. Like its creator Tom Small, it is solid, stable, and unpretentious. It invites viewers to pause and enjoy a few minutes’ rest and peace.

One of Tom’s sculptural benches sits in front of the movie theatre in Friday Harbor. Photo courtesy of Tom Small.

The bench is one of sculptor Tom Small’s first public pieces. Seeing people seated on it brings Tom a sense of fulfillment when he ventures into town, and it reminds him of his primary goal in stone carving.