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Pioneer museum honors volunteers

From left, Loren Kraetz, Dorothy Sturgeon and Pat Kraetz serve cabbage patch soup and clam chowder to volunteers to the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association. -
From left, Loren Kraetz, Dorothy Sturgeon and Pat Kraetz serve cabbage patch soup and clam chowder to volunteers to the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association.
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ARLINGTON Personal guides offer a special touch for visitors to the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum, but it takes a lot of manpower. All those people who share their time and knowledge of life in the valley since the early days were rewarded for their volunteer contributions to the museum with a lunch Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Pat [Kraetz] made the soup and Loren [Kraetz] made the pies, said Doris Senica, wife of SVPA vice president Bill Senica.
There was cabbage patch soup and clam chowder, with stacks of ham sandwiches on two long tables, and a table full of blackberry and apple pies.
And these arent the big blackberries, either, said Gert Kazen.
An all-volunteer organization, the Stillaguamish Pioneers take great pride in building their magnificent museum all themselves, with nary a penny from the government. Now they continue in that tradition, running the museum by volunteer help.
And the work doesnt stop when the doors are closed.
The volunteers gather at the museum every Monday for workday, documenting donations, cleaning and revising displays, and doing whatever else needs done.
Some of the volunteers, like Andy Korthius, Bob Jensen and Annette Devoe, spend years developing a single new display. These three are train history buffs who are recreating the Stillaguamish Valley in the basement of the museum for a model railroad exhibit.
Its a lot of fun, said Korthius, who participates with several different train clubs, as well as helping friends and keeping a model railroad in his own house.
My life is on track, he laughed.
The train display includes all the junctions between Arlington and Darrington, some with names little known today, including Cooper Junction, which was located at the bottom of Trafton Hill, near where Devoe has restored an old farmhouse.
Korthius also keeps a train going in the Oso Community Center (the former Oso School) and is preparing for a big train show at the Monroe Fairgrounds Feb. 3 and 4.
Its an ongoing project, Korthius said adding they hope to be done by the end of this year, but they will always be tweaking and changing things. They have built huge forests by gluing tiny branches on sticks one by one. There are fairly representational mountains in the background, and the river meanders under the track along the way.
The model train has a fairly realistic depiction of downtown Arlington at the turn of the 19th Century, with key buildings like the White House Hotel, the AOUW Building, and the Vancouver Hotel, now the Legion. Later additions are also include the Olympic Theatre.
A retired UPS driver, Korthius said he also volunteers the Puget Sound Blood Center.
Along with maintaining the museum, the Pioneers also count on a lot of volunteer help for special events, like their annual garage sale at the end of April and the annual Pioneer Days, with hands-on demonstrations of skills long gone, like churning butter, grinding wheat, and milking cows by hand.
Well be celebrating our 10th anniversary in the new museum this year, said Marty Rausch, who, with his wife, Myrtle, are caretakers of the museum.
They had a pretty good turnout for the luncheon, with only a few key players missing.
Dick [SVPA president] and Shirley Prouty are gone south for the winter, Doris Senica said. And Harry Yost is home sick, she added.
The museum, at 20722 67th Ave. NE in Arlington, will reopen again in February at its regularly scheduled hours, from 1 - 4 ,p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays.
Maybe we should take three months off and reopen in March, called out a voice from the dining table.
For information about volunteering at the museum, call 360-435-7289.

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