Looking for a quirky but historically rich day trip with some friends? The Northern State Hospital Farm located in Sedro-Woolley, might be what you’re after!
Opened as the third hospital in the state of Washington for the criminally insane, Northern State Hospital was, for its time, very innovative and forward-thinking. In 1912 when they admitted their first patients, the initial superintendent A.H. McLeash had a vision. His hope was that through vocational training on site, the patients would not only be contributing members to their ‘community’ but also gain positive personal skills as well.
The Set Up
The hospital, lovingly dubbed as “Bughouse” by patients and locals alike, sat on 1,200 acres of land. This vast amount of space gave McLeash the perfect set up for the farm/hospital. With a various assortment of livestock and a greenhouse onsite, the patients raised and took care of the animals and oversaw the planting, care and harvesting of fresh produce.
Years later the superintendent would add a woodworking shop, printing plant, and safe places where mattresses, rugs, and shoes would either be created or repaired. As it would turn out, the patients responded well to the responsibility that was bestowed upon them.
Before being closed in the 1960s because of state budget cuts, the amount of goods the hospitals’ farm produced was staggering. With an excess of over 140,000 eggs laid per year, the farm had slowly made Northern State almost completely self-reliant. This was in addition to over 36,000 pounds of poultry, around 258,000 pounds of pork, and over 23,000 pounds of cured ham.
Their greenhouse and farmland also proved successful, with close to 186,000 pounds of fresh fruit produced per year, along with 61,000 pounds of berries and over 2.2 million pounds of potatoes and fresh vegetables combined.
While visiting, guests can hike a five mile round trip set of trails with kids and leashed dogs. Make sure to not trespass onto the hospital grounds, as it is still in use, but now as a drug and alcohol treatment center by the US Jobs Corps.
For some great information on how to get to the trails, and what buildings are still on site, head here. The site we were linking to is no longer available.
Information partially found on Skagit River Journal.
Editor’s note: None of these pictures belong to us.