History of Lynden, WA
Founded on the site of the Nooksack Indian village, Lynden is a pleasant community in Whatcom County, Washington with a population of about ten thousand people.
Before non-Indians began traveling to the area around Lynden, it was occupied by the Nooksack Indians. In the mid-20th century, the area saw an influx of fortune seekers who wanted to try their fortune and look for gold deposits. Some of them recognized the agricultural potential of the area and decided to stay.
Lynden was officially founded in 1874 by Phoebe and Holden Judson, two American pioneers. Phoebe named the new town Lynden after the town in Thomas Campbell’s poem Hohenlinden (though she slightly changed the spelling from Linden to Lynden in order to make it more visually appealing).
Over the years, increasingly more residents settled in Lynden. As the town progressed, a post office (1873), a school (1882), and several stores were established in Lynden, and the town started to look like an organized community. Lynden’s growth accelerated in late 19th century, when the population reached 500 and new businesses emerged.
At the turn of the 20th century, a group of Dutch people arrived and settled in Lynden. This event marked the change of the city’s future. Citizens of Dutch descent were attracted by the favorable agricultural conditions of the area. The Dutch families, who after 1900 started to come to Lynden in increasing numbers, soon formed “a society within a society”. They opened their own institutions including the Christian Reformed Church and the Lynden Christian School. The Dutch were a religious and conservative community, with the church being the foundation for their life.
In the mid-20th century, the Dutch immigration to Lynden continued, and by 1950 there were more residents of Dutch origin than non-Dutch. In January 1948, the first mayor of the Dutch descent – Irwin LeCocq – was elected. Every visitor immediately feels the city’s Dutch heritage – by visiting Dutch bakeries, restaurants, and local grocery stores that sell Dutch products. Some residents of Lynden still speak the Dutch language.
Today Lynden is a colourful city that continues to preserve its Dutch ambiance, though over the past decades the Dutch influence has been declining. Lynden remains a conservative and religious community, the heart of the region's agriculture and a picturesque destination for tourists traveling around Washington.