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Originally published Friday, August 23, 2013 at 10:05 AM

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Lake Ballinger, ca. 1911

Lake Ballinger was a scenic stop along the Seattle-to-Everett Interurban in the early 1900s. Riders could have hopped off to view the summer home of prominent politician Richard Achilles Ballinger and his wife, Julia.

Special to The Seattle Times

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A PHOTOGRAPH of Julia and Richard Achilles Ballinger’s modest summer home — set on a three-acre island off the west shore of the largest (160 acres) of five lakes along the Seattle-to-Everett Interurban Line — appeared in The Seattle Times June 14, 1911. The photo’s caption describes the lake as “an ideal picnic and camping spot.”

Printed on the same page is an advertisement for the Interurban. Promising local trains every hour, it enabled its “Lake Route” riders to get off the train and make their way “along a sun-flecked trail through the silent arches of the Forest Primeval.”

The forest on the lake’s eastern shore was probably reserved by Ballinger, who owned the lake and all around it. As late as 1924 this forest of cedars, firs and alders was distinguished with the claim of its then new owner, Seattle’s Shriners, that “there is probably no prettier grove anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.” From this primeval start the Shriners began planning their golf course, although it took decades to shape the grove into 18 holes.

It was along the lake’s straight western shore that Ballinger, a former judge and mayor of Seattle (1904-’06), started selling lots in the spring of 1914. It was a delayed beginning because, with his appointment to President Taft’s Cabinet in 1909, Ballinger was preoccupied as the country’s secretary of the interior.

Still, his publicly expressed hope of developing a “residence park of high character” beside the lake gave opportunities for real estate not on the lake but close enough, like the cunningly named Lake Ballinger Garden Tracks.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.

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