Before Major League sports in Seattle, boat racing was king and the Sammamish Slough Race was one of the premier Northwest events. Every April thousands of spectators watched drivers jump logs and dodge bridge pilings on the narrow and winding 13-mile slough from Lake Washington to Lake Sammamish. Steve Greaves, a four time slough racer and national champion boat racer, will share the history and memories of this bygone era on Saturday, April 12th at 10:30am at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center in Redmond. He is speaking as part of the Redmond Historical Society Saturday Speaker Series and will be joined by a panel of other former racers: Dave Culley, John Laird, Lee Sutter and Drew Thompson as well as former race official Penny Anderson. A boat will also be on display outside.
“It was a challenging race as is had 63 turns and a lot of unpredictable obstacles. I remember coming around a bend going through Redmond and having to dodge a cow getting a drink in the water,” recalls Greaves, who participated in his first race at fourteen and went on to set over 30 World and National water speed records. Read More >>
The races ran from 1933 to 1976. Unofficial estimates of 40,000 or more fans lined the river banks and bridges. Spectators loved it because it was loud and the action was only fifteen feet away. Photographers positioned themselves to capture crashes and helicopters flew overhead for local radio coverage. The event ended after 1976 as permitting and insurance costs became a burden for the organizers.
According to Greaves, “Many Nationally-known boat racers, honed their skills in the Sammamish Slough Race. There was really nothing like it in country. Even today most will tell you it was one of their favorites. It was certainly the craziest.”
The Saturday Speaker Series is a monthly program presented by the Redmond Historical Society on every second Saturday (with the exception of December) at 10:30am at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, located at 16600 NE 80th Street. Topics range from local, state and Pacific Northwest historical interest. There is a suggested $5 donation for non-members.
The Redmond Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives support from the City of Redmond, 4 Culture, Nintendo, the Bellevue Collection, and Humanities Washington as well as from other donors and members.