Before Keeler’s Korner was built, the section of Highway 99 between 170th and 148th Streets SW, was known as Gunnysack Hill. Richard Telford told reporters that he and his sister, Dolores, were responsible for placing kerosene lanterns on the wooden bridges over the new section of Highway 99. He also remembers workers spreading out gunnysacks, covered with dirt, over the fresh concrete while it set. However, the name “gunnysack” refers to the sacks that Ole Bloss, who owned a farm called Gunnysack Ranch at the bottom of the hill, sold to drivers to wrap around their tires in snow so that their cars wouldn’t skid. Kids would also sled from the top of the hill down to the highway, while their friends looked out for cars. The hill was so steep it once caused an ice cream truck’s doors to fly open, giving children the opportunity to catch the ice cream as it fell out the back. (108)
Afraid of the crime that a new highway might bring, law enforcement was increased in the area. Bootleggers were arrested at the Jungle Temple No. 2 and Doc Hamilton’s Barbecue Ranch. The Willows roadhouse, on the east side of what became the Keeler property, was also rumored to sell alcohol from jugs kept under the office desk. (109)
Built in 1927 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, the Keeler’s Korner service station was built by Carl Keeler the same year that Highway 99 (from Seattle to Everett) opened. Keeler wanted to take advantage of the heavy traffic, including those traveling north to Canada.
Keeler’s Korner is a rare extant example of an early gas station and “America’s automobile culture.” It was a popular stop for tourists, offering services ranging from lodging in the cabins at the south of the main building to automobile repair, hardware products, and groceries. The station was also a bus stop. As Keeler’s grew in popularity, it became an anchor for the area’s recreational activities, as it was an important stop on the route to Martha’s Lake, Silver Lake, and other summer resorts. (110)
After the Keelers’ business closed in the 1960s, Jerry Chinn rented the building in 1970 and purchased it in 1976. He restored the structure and its original Keeler’s Korner sign, installed the old gas pumps, and opened a “‘petroliana”—gasoline and auto paraphernalia-themed antique store. Chinn also chose the Mobil motif; other collectibles were donated. Chinn, who is an art director for commercials, has even featured Keeler’s Korner in photo shoots, ads, gas station books, and paintings. Chinn sold the building in 2002. (111) To this day, Keeler’s Korner is an icon of Snohomish County’s history and the intersection is still referred to by that name.
(108) Little, Marie, “Old-Timers Witness Change Along Highway 99.” Third Age News, December 1996
(110) Lambert, Brent, “Keeler’s Korner.” National Register of Historic Places, 1982
(111) Stockton, Paysha, “Lynnwood Landmarked Gas Station Up for Sale.” The Seattle Times, June 5, 2002