Sequim. You say it correctly. So does your neighbor. It’s “Skwim!”
Sometimes, you might correct someone in the grocery store line, or tell the TV news anchor from your couch that it’s not “See-kwim.”
Yet how it’s spelled, as Sequimites know, isn’t always how it’s pronounced.
In Carlsborg, just west of Sequim, there are differing opinions among the burgeoning business community and residents about how to say its name.
Gil Simon, owner of Sequim Village Glass, said he’s heard a mixture of “-berg” and “-borg.”
“I used to correct people when they mispronounced Sequim,” he said. “I stopped doing it awhile back, and I’ve never corrected people over Carlsborg.”
Simon said he’s always said “-borg.”
“That’s the correct name, I think,” he said. “Most people I speak to say ‘-borg.’ It’s what you’re used to hearing.”
About 20 years ago, Jac Osborn, owner of By Design Group in Carlsborg, said he was corrected by a local when he moved to the area.
“I was told it was ‘Carlsberg,’” he said. “If it is ‘-borg,’ it doesn’t bother me one way or the other. If one of the founding fathers told me it was a specific way, then I’d follow that.”
Yet Osborn and dozens of other locals interviewed split on whether or not it’s pronounced “Carlsborg” or “Carlsberg.”
Jenny Nichols, a clerk in the Carlsborg Post Office, said she’s called it “Carlsberg” since she can remember.
“I didn’t realize it was spelled differently until I was older,” she said.
Third grade teacher Sheri Burke at Greywolf Elementary School feels confident that it’s pronounced “Carlsborg.”
“I say ‘-borg’ because that’s how it’s spelled,” she said. “I have heard it both ways. For Carlsborg Road, (people) say ‘-berg.’ I think we should pronounce it how it’s intended.”
How to say “Carlsborg” is something many people like Jim Schumacher, owner of Carlsborg Station, said they’ve never thought about it or ever heard being contested.
He feels it’s pronounced “Carlsberg.”
“That’s how everyone has always said it to us,” Schumacher said. “I’ve never heard anyone say ‘-borg.’”
The gas station features a mural by late artist Tim Quinn of the No. 9 train that ran through the area. Schumacher said Quinn did a lot of research for the piece.
Larry Culp, co-owner of Old Mill Cafe and a Carlsborg resident since 1957, owns the original sign off the Carlsborg Mill that operated from 1915-1967 and always says “-borg.”
“It is ‘-borg,’ definitely with an ‘o’,” Culp said.
“A lot of people say ‘-berg.’ I think it’s ‘-borg.’”
A brief history of Carlsborg
Carlsborg’s roots begin with Sweden’s C.J. Erickson.
Oscar Fogde wrote in the Clallam County Historical Society’s “Jimmy Come Lately: the History of Clallam County” in 1971 that Erickson, a millionaire through his construction efforts, moved to Seattle and became interested in the Olympic Peninsula around 1914 and began investing and building railways stretching from Port Angeles to Port Townsend.
He later sold his stretches of railway and acquired large timber holdings south of Sequim in the Lost Mountain district, and in Indian Valley between Lake Aldwell and Lake Sutherland, Fogde wrote.
The key part of this brief history lesson is that Erickson opted to build a sawmill and shingle mill just west of Sequim to process his timber. He named the town after his hometown, Karlsborg, Sweden.
Karlsborg sits in south central Sweden in Västra Götaland County along the western shore of Vättern, the country’s second largest lake.
Erickson broke ground in August 1915, Fogde wrote, and the sawmill was the first all-electric sawmill in the Northwest, and it generated its own electricity.
The mill was eventually designed to cut 100,000 feet of lumber per day that was mostly sent to the Midwest.
Washington’s Carlsborg featured a 13-mile logging railway just south of town up to the Lost Mountain district, and a theater, built in the 1920s, that showed movies on Saturday and Sunday evenings, Fogde wrote.
Twenty-one years after establishing Carlsborg, Erickson sold his interests in 1936 to a Seattle firm with the intent of scrapping the mill but it was overhauled and reopened on Jan. 1, 1937 and operated as the Dungeness Timber Company under Grays Harbor lumbermen.
Owners of the Standard Lumber Company in Seattle owned and operated the Timber Company in the late 1940s and early 1950s before The Orban Lumber Company of Pasadena, Calif., bought the property in 1960 and operated it until the fall of 1967.
Fogde wrote that the mill shuttered after interest rates grew so high that prospective home-builders opted not to borrow money for new construction.
The mill was torn down but Carlsborg continued.
Today, Clallam County officials say Carlsborg spans just north of Idea Place to south in the Parkwood housing development, and west to portions of Atterberry Road and Spath Road, and east along Mill Road and portions of Taylor Cut-off and Gilbert Roads.
What’s the verdict?
Finding definitive answers locally proved somewhat difficult to learn the correct way to say Carlsborg.
So, the Gazette turned to Erickson’s homeland – Sweden.
Johanna Nygren, operational assistant for the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in Seattle, said she pronounces the it as “Karlsborg.”
“As a native speaking Swede I pronounce it ‘KarlsBORG,’ if it’s this small town you are referring with the famous fortress,” she said.
As a fun side note, Nygren did point out that Copenhagen, Denmark, features a popular brewery called Carlsberg.
Staff with the InfoCenter Karlsborg reaffirmed Nygren that Karlsborg is pronounced “-borg.”
No information was available or given on the letter switch from Karlsborg to Carlsborg.
When asked if there was a definitive way of saying Carlsborg, a majority of locals interviewed remained split.
Liz Palmer, Sunny Farms seafood manager, said she’s always said “Carlsberg.”
“I don’t know why,” she said. “Once you get in the habit, it’s hard to change that habit. I’m probably not going to change it.”
Palmer’s coworker, Shawn Anders, a Sunny Farms grocery clerk, says “-berg” too, but seems willing to switch to the Swedish pronunciation.
“If it is ‘-borg,’ then logic and reason will conquer all,” he said. “I like to go by the book. I’ve lived here 34 years now, and I better do it by the book.”
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What they say?
Carlsborg business and community members share their thoughts on how to say “Carlsborg” or “Carlsberg.”
● Lisa Deese, owner of The Old Post Office
“I always said ‘-berg’ but then I started working here and I started saying ‘-borg,’” she said.
● Dave Hodkinson, employee at Sunny Farms
“I say ‘-borg.’ I pronounce it for orders over the phone so they don’t get it wrong,” he said.
●Danté Ruiz, production manager for Lib Tech
“I say ‘Berg’ with an ‘o.’ I’ve never heard anyone say -borg!” he said.
● Shannon Roger, human resources manager for Lib Tech
“I say ‘-berg’ too. It feels more uncomfortable to say ‘-borg.’ It feels like it’s more work to say,” she said.
Both she and Ruiz figure they’ll keep saying “Carlsberg” too. “It’s burned in,” Ruiz said.
● Steve Phillips, fire mechanic at the Clallam County Fire District 3 maintenance shop
“I grew up in Sequim and my great-grandma grew up on Mill Road, and I’ve always heard it as ‘Carlsberg.’ I don’t have an opinion either way. It makes sense to pronounce it ‘-borg,’” he said.
● Kevin Smith, fire mechanic at the Clallam County Fire District 3 maintenance shop
“I say ‘-borg.’ It’s spelled that way, so why not say it that way?” he said.
● Maribeth Stewart, fourth grade teacher at Greywolf Elementary
“I say ‘-berg.’ I’ve never heard someone say ‘-borg,’” she said.
● Doug Hastings, physical education teacher at Greywolf Elementary
“I’m 50/50 with half the time saying ‘-berg’ and the other ‘-borg,’” he said.