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Last Updated: July 11, 2014
Overexposed to Northern Exposure
A visit to Roslyn, Washington has been on my bucket list for about 25 years. This should be on everyone's list who is a fan of the old CBS show Northern Exposure, known as NX among fans. With the possible exception of Breaking Bad, NX was the best show ever on television, at least in my humble opinion.
For the benefit of the poor souls who have never been blessed with experiencing the show, NX takes place in the fictional small town of Cicely, Alaska. However, the show was actually shot in the town of Roslyn, Washington. Just swap out the license plates, and this central Washington town can pass for Alaska any day. Having been to Alaska three times, including a driving trip through central Alaska, I think I'm entitled to make that claim.
I visited Roslyn late in the afternoon on June 28, 2014. Unfortunately, I was by myself so most of these pictures were taken with the aid of my camera's timer. I must have looked like quite the dorky NX tourist posing all over town by myself. That will also explain why these pictures are generally pretty bad. With the apologies out of the way, here are some of the iconic NX spots in town.
I'm sure they removed such signs when taping NX. The town of Roslyn was once a major center for mining, and there are lots of memorials to said history around town.
Here is the home of the Chris in the Morning radio show. There are evidently enough other NX tourists for the town to keep it looking just as it did on the show, with racks of records on the wall. What would have been Maurice's office next door is now a tourist information center. Unfortunately, I got there too late in the day and it was closed.
This totem pole was seen on quite a few episodes. That big building in the back, I'm pretty sure, is new. You may recall this location from the episode where an unknown person died in Dr. Fleishman's waiting room and they kept a vigil over his body in what appeared to be this spot.
This mural could be seen in the opening credits of every show. However, they painted an apostrophe-s after Roslyn for the show. It was explained in one episode how someone named Roslyn was instrumental in the history of Cicely. Strangely, Roslyn's Cafe was never actually seen from the inside on the show, nor Village Pizza. You'd think everyone only ate at the Brick.
Here is Dr. Fleishman's office, which has been turned into a souvenir store, mostly catering to NX tourists like me. The gentleman I'm posing with was tending to the store when I was there and was kind enough to chat about all things NX with me. He gave me the map below of where key NX buildings were in the town. He was an extra on many of the episodes. For example, he was one of the bystanders watching when Dr. Fleishman's car caught fire.
Interior of the above mentioned store.
On the show, the town was so small that Ruth Ann's store served double duty as the town's post office. However, the actual town of Roslyn is a lot bigger than they make it out to be on the show. For example, it is more than large enough to warrant a post office building.
According to the map below, this was Ruth Ann's house.
In the last episode, they show the town cemetery, which looks rather small. However, in reality Roslyn has 26 cemeteries, largely segregated by race. The gentleman I met at the store said Peg Phillips (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peg_Phillips), who played Ruth Ann Miller, was buried in one of them. I tried to find her grave, but there were so many headstones between the 26 cemeteries that it would have taken me all day to locate it by trial and error.
Here are scans of a brochure for the town's various cemeteries. No mention of where Peg Phillips is buried, unfortunately.
I felt like quite the fool standing in the middle of the street waiting for my camera to take this picture.
Ruth Ann's store. It now serves as the town grocery/convenience store. In real life, it seems much bigger than it did on the show. They must have put in a fake wall on the show to make the store look smaller.
Here is the church where the town meeting scenes took place. It now is vacant and dilapidated.
Here is a more distant shot of the building that houses the radio station and Maurice's office.
Finally, here is the iconic Brick. The place has since been partitioned between bar and restaurant sections. I had a hamburger and beer at the bar. No, they don't have moose burgers on the menu. The bar itself is the oldest operating continuously-operating tavern in the state of Washington. The bartender was kind enough to take this picture.
Roslyn is located in central Washington, a few miles off the I-90, which connects Seattle to Spokane. You'll find Roslyn only about 90 miles from Seattle. If you're driving eastbound, you'll pass over the Cascade mountain range. As I drove through the mountains, it was pouring rain and I was worried my visit to Roslyn would get washed out. However, I descended before getting to Roslyn, which is at the foot of the mountains. As you can see from the pictures, it was nice and dry during my visit.
There are some other places I didn't have time to check out, like Maggie's houses (she had two) and the lake. I plain forgot to visit the laundromat, so I apologize about that. I asked about the trebuchet and was told it was relocated to Washington State University in Pullman.
In closing, I must say I enjoyed my trip to Roslyn. It felt satisfying, like scratching at itch, to cross that off my bucket list. However, it seems like every time I cross something off that list, I find something new to add to it.
To all my fellow NX fans, I high recommend paying a visit, especially if you find yourself in Washington anyway. To everybody else who hasn't seen the show -- you have my sympathy.