The City of Leavenworth was originally planned in 1893 by a group of financiers headed by Captain Charles F. Leavenworth.
From the beginning, the heart of the town was the Great Northern Railway - inspired by railroad tycoon J. J. Hill. James Jerome Hill, dreamed of a northern transcontinental railroad and in 1892 began laying tracks that crossed the Wenatchee valley and continued up the Tumwater Canyon where Highway 2 is today.
Leavenworth prospered from the railroad money in the form of employees who constructed tracks through the Cascade Mountains. The 1920's brought drastic change. The Lamb-Davis lumber mill sold its land holdings and the Great Northern Railroad moved its operations to Wenatchee. With the economic crash of 1929 and the depression of the 1930's, Leavenworth was left with 24 empty storefronts on its two-block business street. The town was devastated and nearly died for lack of economy.
In the early 1960's the people of Leavenworth realized they needed to make an incredible effort to change their situation and decided to change the appearance of town to bring in tourists. In 1965, after much deliberation and research, the community leaders were swayed by the backdrop of Alpine hills and turned the town into a Bavarian Village. Determined to make the theme deeper than a facelift on buildings, the entire community banded together to create a credible illusion of a true Bavarian alpine village. With costumes that they designed and made in their homes and with entire families working together to man stores and services, the dream has become a reality.
Major festivals have been created in the Bavarian theme and have become famous throughout the Northwest. The official Washington State Autumn Leaf festival, and Christmas Lighting Festivals lead the show of 13 major events and seasonal entertainment.
The Leavenworth area is an adventure and outdoor enthusiasts dream. Activities abound from the extreme to the mild, from white water river rafting and snow sports to birding and walking along the Wenatchee River. With more than two million visitors each year,
Leavenworth has become one of the top destinations for visitors to the Pacific Northwest, and continues to change and adapt with new activities, festivals, and events. The Bavarian village is becoming known as a haven of the arts, culture, nature, and recreation.