Fred Reed claims that most of this city's bowlers checked out early this week from his Mt. Si bowling lanes to watch ABC's "Twin Peaks" when it made its debut Sunday night, followed by the series start Thursday. The new murder mystery series, created by "Blue Velvet" director David Lynch, was filmed in part in Snoqualmie, a logging town 25 miles east of Seattle hard by Snoqualmie Falls.
Most people wanted to compare notes, to see how the location work matched with the final television version, how many familiar sights they could spot. But a "Twin Peaks" mystery of another sort is bedeviling the residents: are some of this town's 1,500 residents engaged in bloody satanic rituals, plunging to untimely deaths from the top of 246-foot Snoqualmie Falls, or facing off in the backwoods to solve lovers' quarrels with dueling chain saws? That's the impression some residents claim has been produced. Not by the television series but by a reporter for the tabloid weekly the Star.
When Lynch selected this mountain retreat and its smaller twin city North Bend as his fictional Twin Peaks, Snoqualmie residents welcomed the attention. But then the Star claimed to find a dark side to Snoqualmie, darker even than the television portrayal.
According to the April 10 issue of the Star: "Real Twin Peaks Town Hides Dark Secrets of Its Own." At first, residents were outraged or amused over Snoqualmie's image as the fun-with-chain-saws capital. Even Police Chief Dan Isely claimed that the Star article became "kind of a joke with a lot of the people in the town."
Star reporter Dave Lafontaine wrote that Snoqualmie's majestic woods hide hooded satanic cults who draw pentagons with human blood and leaving mutilated cats, goats and chickens hanging from the trees. "Scores" of suicides have jumped into thundering Snoqualmie Falls. Residents still whisper about a former Snoqualmie citizen: serial sex murderer Ted Bundy, executed last year in Florida.
Also common in Snoqualmie, according to the Star, are knife fights over women between drunken loggers, often ending in shootings and "chain-saw duels."
All this somehow seems weirdly appropriate for the filming location of "Twin Peaks," whose story revolves around the murder of a high school homecoming queen.
According to Isely, the peaceful people of this logging town are no more likely to duel with chain saws than they are to ship the body of the homecoming queen down the falls in a plastic bag. "It's (the Star's portrayal) so blown out of proportion that if anybody believes that of a town of 1,500 people in the Northwest--well, I'm concerned about that person," Isely said.
Dan Olah, marketing director for Snoqualmie's Railway Museum, said of the Star and the television series: "both are based on fiction, and both are amusing," adding that the only rumor he's heard about viciousness of loggers concerns one logger who can "eat a hot dog and drink a beer through his nose at the same time."
Some in Snoqualmie fail to see the humor in the town's portrayals. "Nobody is happy about the Star article," said Mayor Jeanne Hansen. Businessman George Swenson, 64, who was born in Snoqualmie, said that while he found the Star article funny, it spoiled the town's enjoyment of "Twin Peaks." "They'd like to tangle up the town in the series' story line," he said.
But most everybody here seems more ready to laugh than cry about the town's notoriety.
Kwok Louie, owner of North Bend's Hangchow restaurant, has a picture of two chain saws hanging on the wall of his bar like some absurd family coat-of-arms. A sign outside Big Edd's Dine In/Drive Thru Tavern warns: "Please Check Your Chainsaw Before Entering."
As far as the television series is concerned, many of the town residents so far have found it slow and hard to follow. Most said they watched to see what buildings, places and people they could recognize.
Dog trainer Bill Williams, having his hair cut at Ed's Barber Shop by Doug Bergquist, was unenthusiastic. "They didn't have no dogs in there," he complained. "And where'd they get those actors? Geez, it was worse than a high school play!" Then he drove off in a truck bearing the license plate "DAWG."
A visit to Coast to Coast Total Hardware found co-owner Betty Carmichael deep in discussion about "Twin Peaks" with her employees. "It wasn't the crime, it was the Peyton Place image that I didn't like," Carmichael said. "I know it's silly, but this is your home, and it isn't anything like that."
City Hall account clerk Peggy Skinner called "Twin Peaks" hokey, but admitted she watched Thursday's episode "to see if they are going to solve anything, at least one more night."
Skinner does not believe the sinister goings-on in the movie will lead tourists to avoid the town. "It's so much the opposite--about the worst crime here is that a few garbage cans get knocked over," she said. "But it may attract visitors to this bad, bad town."
On Friday morning, Snoqualmie residents were celebrating because a decision to make nearby Snoqualmie Ridge part of the city of Snoqualmie had been accepted, allowing for the development of 2,000 new homes and a professional golf course. Clearly, growth in the area has not been stopped by chain saws. The development was approved Thursday night by town officials who obviously had heavier duty to perform than to watch the high-rated show.
Still, those who oppose growth in the area remain hopeful that things will remain the same. "There are some who say, 'Well, maybe all these stories will stop all those Californians from moving up here," Isely said.