Leavenworth is a city in Chelan County, Washington. It is part of the Wenatchee−East Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical Area. The entire town center is modeled on a Bavarian village.
Leavenworth was officially incorporated on September 5, 1906. A small timber community, it became the headquarters of the Great North Railroad in the early 1900s. Railroad construction was completed during the winter of 1893. The railroad relocated to Wenatchee in the 1920s, greatly affecting Leavenworth's economy. Lafayette Lamb and his brother, Chauncery Lamb, arrived in 1903 from Iowa to build the second largest sawmill in Washington state.
In 1962, the Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) Committee was formed in partnership with the University of Washington to investigate strategies to revitalize the struggling logging town. The theme town idea was created by two Seattle business men, Ted Price and Bob Rodgers, who had bought a failing cafe on Highway 2 in 1960. Price was chair of the Project LIFE tourism subcommittee, and in 1965 the pair led a trip to a Danish-themed town Solvang, California to build support for the idea. The first building to be remodeled in the Bavarian style was the Chikamin Hotel, which owner LaVerne Peterson renamed the Edelweiss after the state flower of Bavaria.
Leavenworth is home to the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, which opened in 1995 and contains more than 5,000 nutcrackers dating from prehistoric to modern. Leavenworth hosts an annual Oktoberfest celebration. Leavenworth's transformation into a theme town was inspired, and assisted, by Solvang, California. Later, the Washington town of Winthrop followed Leavenworth's example and adopted a town theme.