MAY 12, 1997
The mini-Space Needle at Gold Creek is an exact replica of the one in downtown Seattle, but which was built first?
Photo by Andrew Walgamott/Northwest News.
by Lynda Dahl
While the Northwest is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair and its trademark Space Needle, Woodinville has its own needle to be proud of. According to some, the Woodinville structure, still standing on the Gold Creek property, was actually the first needle to be built.
During the 1950s, W. G. Tyrrell purchased four broccoli farms on 140th Pl. NE and additional acreage on the adjacent Hollywood Hill. It was his dream to build a family amusement park. He built a lake, a tennis court, swimming pools, model trains that took people from one side of the property to Fort Bixby, a paddlewheeler that travelled through locks, horse stables, and a trout farm. He called it Gold Creek.
Tyrrell also hosted construction workers while they were working on the World's Fair in Seattle. The group lived in trailers along the Sammamish Slough. One of those construction workers was Richard Mahlemand, who built the 30-foot needle at Gold Creek to the exact scale of the one that was going up at Seattle Center, complete with revolving top, lights, and elevator.
Another resident of Gold Creek in its early days was author Stephen Cosgrove, who had an office on the property. It was at Gold Creek that Cosgrove's books first introduced one of Seattle's most beloved characters and needle dweller, the Wheedle.
Not only is Woodinville possibly the site of the first Space Needle and the birthplace of the Wheedle on the Needle, but the area's first dome can also be found on the grounds at Gold Creek. Looking much like the Kingdome, the Gold Creek dome was built in 1963 as an ice arena, restaurant, and facility for ballroom dancing. The roof decking of this dome consists of 50 miles of laminated 1"x2"s.
Unlike the dome in Seattle, there are no plans to replace the local dome, which currently houses basketball, volleyball, tennis, a running track, and a pickleball court (for outsiders, that's Washington State's official game), as well as an aerobics and weight room.
The Gold Creek dome not only had world famous skaters in its early years, but later, under its second owner, Chick Dawsey, big name concert series with world famous bands and singers such as Led Zeppelin, Linda Ronstadt, Heart, and Paul Revere and the Raiders performed there. The late Don McCune, a local celebrity best known and loved as Captain Puget, was an early supporter of the park.
The trout farm and stables became separate businesses in the late 1960s, and Tyrrell gave the lodge to King County for a park. Today, Gold Creek Athletic Club operates the facility on the 70 acres on 140th Pl. NE.