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On January 16, 1860, the Washington Territorial Legislature incorporated the city of Port Townsend, and a year later on January 14, 1861, the legislature created Snohomish County by carving it out of the then-larger Island County. This week also marks anniversaries for the cities of Walla Walla, which was incorporated on January 11, 1862, and Colfax, whose residents voted to incorporate on January 14, 1879.
On January 13, 1892, the opening of a solitary building on a treeless 25-acre campus near Pullman marked the first day of classes at the Washington Agricultural College. Since then the college has blossomed into Washington State University, one of the top public research universities in the United States. The university has undergone many changes, especially during the past half century, while remaining faithful to its mission of expanding access to higher education for Washingtonians on both sides of the state.
On January 10, 1901, Seattle residents began receiving water from the city's new Cedar River watershed. Exactly four years later, the Cedar Falls hydroelectric plant began lighting Seattle street lamps for the first time. This week also marks the anniversary of the Seattle water department beginning fluoridation on January 12, 1970.
On January 13, 1913, the first women to serve in the Washington State Legislature, Frances C. Axtell and Nena Jolidon Croake, took the oath of office along with 95 male colleagues in the House of Representatives on the opening day of the state's 13th legislative session. The two women were elected in November 1912 in the first state elections after Washington women gained the right to vote in 1910.
In the 1850s, Ezra Meeker and his wife Eliza traveled cross-country on the Oregon Trail, eventually settling in the Puyallup Valley. Decades later Meeker retraced his steps in the name of historic preservation and to promote a transcontinental highway for auto traffic. This time his oxen Dave and Dandy pulled his wagon and achieved as much fame as Meeker. On January 14, 1916, Meeker donated their taxidermied bodies to the Washington State Historical Museum in Tacoma, where they remain on display to this day.
A decade after the Wellington avalanche swept two trains down the Cascade Mountains, the Great Northern Railway began boring a new passage beneath Stevens Pass to eliminate wintertime difficulties. The Eight-Mail Tunnel opened on January 12, 1929, and is known today as the Cascade Tunnel.
Groucho: Well, I'm sorry the matter even came up. All I know is that it's a viaduct.
Chico: Listen. I catch on to why a horse, why a chicken, why a this, why a that, but I don't catch on to why a duck.
Groucho: I was only fooling. I was only fooling. They're going to build a tunnel in the morning. Is that clear to you?
Chico: Yes, everything except for why a duck.
-- The Marx Brothers, The Cocoanuts
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