When All Over The Map explored Devil’s Elbow near Kennydale in Renton a few weeks ago, KIRO Radio also put out the call for other “organically named” places – streets, landmarks, and other geographic features – that have commonly used names that don’t appear on any map.
A KIRO Radio listener named Nancy got in touch (we’ll call her by her first name). She sent old black and white photos of a bike trip she and a friend took in 1976 down a street that Nancy said was called “Marijuana Road.” The old handwritten captions on the photos even say, “Bike trip in 1976 with Peg on Marijuana Road.”
“Everyone (teens) at that time knew about Marijuana Rd. It was a known “parking” spot, good place for “keggers,” nice biking path (to avoid Coal Creek Rd), and fun place for the teens to have a wild drive <yikes!>!!”
The photos, which are included in the gallery featured in this piece, show a rural, bucolic tree-lined road through the country. It looks like something miles away from Seattle or any of the surrounding suburbs.
There’s no known direct connection between the name “Marijuana Road” and any specific time or activities, but the general usage by teens that Nancy describes in the 1970s provides some clue as to when and where the name could have come from: Baby Boomer-age high school kids smoking marijuana in the woods along the road in the 1960s, perhaps.
It took some half-baked sleuthing, but it appears that Marijuana Road is in what’s now the City of Newcastle. As Nancy said, it roughly parallels, and is east of, Coal Creek Parkway. The modern street names are 136th Avenue Southeast and 144th Place Southeast.
A drive over there earlier this week yielded some photos. These were shared with Nancy – who had also taken a recent refresher drive – who confirmed that it’s the same spot.
— Feliks Banel (@FeliksBanel) May 21, 2020
A historic marker near the north end of Marijuana Road also indicated that the route is actually one of the oldest post-settlement roads in King County. Much of what remains of Marijuana Road – which amounts to about a half-mile of paved street – was designated an official King County Landmark back in 1984.
It’s not officially called “Marijuana Road” in the formal landmark…