Early in the fall of 1875, a young family crossed over Snoqualmie Pass on horseback into a wide, sparsely settled valley. Bunch grass reached to the stirrups in places. Passing through the rough beginnings of a town called Ellensburg, they settled a few miles to its east. Here the soil was deep and of high quality. A creek cut through the fields, flowing from nearby hills.
The father, Samuel Bedient Olmstead, immediately set to work, carefully constructing a cabin of cottonwood logs hauled from many miles away. His wife, Sarah Frances Olmstead, cared for the three children and helped at a trading post establishment of a relative. Together, they raised the foundation of a family farm that would grow and develop through the years into a living heritage.
Samuel died in January of 1882, but the family decided to carry on the development of the farm. The Olmstead farm witnessed and mirrored the transition from pioneer to modern life. With the arrival of the railroad in 1886, farm settlement grew rapidly. Goods and services became readily available and easily traded. Farm mechanization enhanced output capabilities. The Olmstead family eventually switched to dairy farming. The switch was successful, and Olmstead dairy products were marketed over a wide area.
They built a large house and red barn in between 1906 and 1908. Electricity arrived, along with diesel and gas tractors, national markets and world wars, and the ushering in of modern culture. Sarah Olmstead passed away in 1917, having seen her children become established and successful in carrying out the farm responsibilities. The transition to modern agriculture was in full gear.
After living on the homestead nearly their whole lives, Leta May and Clareta Smith, granddaughters of Samuel and Sarah, deeded the entire farm to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission in 1968. They envisioned the development of a historical farm which would accurately relate the story of the growth of agriculture and the struggles and dreams of a pioneer family farm to generations to come.