The free online encyclopedia of Washington state history

7344 articles now available.

Diablo Dam incline railway climbing Sourdough Mountain, 1930. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 2306.
Children waving to ferry, 1950. Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.
Loggers in the Northwest woods. Courtesy Washington State Digital Archives.

This Week Then


News Then, History Now

Passing Through

On March 19, 1881, while scouting routes for the Northern Pacific Railroad, a group of surveyors led by Virgil Bogue found Stampede Pass to be the perfect spot to connect the rail line to Tacoma. A tunnel wasn't completed until 1888, but it provided a new railroad gateway from Puget Sound to the East.

Brand New

On March 16, 1891, Lynden incorporated in Whatcom County, and nearby Ferndale incorporated on March 19, 1907. This week also marks the start of Selah  in Yakima County, which incorporated on March 17, 1919. Just before the vote, the town's population mysteriously grew by half and just met the 300-resident threshold required by law for incorporation. 

Dancing Shoo

On March 15, 1937, Governor Clarence Martin put his foot down on Washington's dance marathons after cities like Tacoma and Bellingham had banned them years earlier. The craze had risen to popularity in the 1920s, but the Great Depression intensified the fad as a grueling endurance contest with partners dancing for weeks and even months on end.

Pranksters Troll

In 1942 a curiously inscribed rock was discovered at Whitworth College in Spokane, bearing the date 1703 beneath a message that appeared to be chiseled in "olde English." Was this evidence that European explorers might have visited the inland Northwest much earlier than was thought? Nope. It was just a 
mischievous prank, as many found out on March 17, 1942.

Rock and Roll

On March 16, 1958, Seattle Bandstand debuted on KING-TV and became an instant hit with Northwest teens. Modeled after Dick Clark's Philadelphia-based, nationally broadcast American Bandstand, the two-hour weekly program launched the careers of several local bands and led to the creation of similar shows on NBC affiliates in Yakima, Spokane, and Portland.

Winning Goal

Two years after Seattle was granted an expansion franchise for Major League Soccer, the Seattle Sounders FC made its debut on March 19, 2009, and has since smashed league records for attendance. They are the only team to have won four U.S. Open cups, and captured their first MLS cup in December 2016.

Today in
Washington History

New Essays This Week

Image of the Week

On March 17, 1999, Seattle's Town Hall debuted in the old Fourth Church of Christ Scientist building, and has been hosting hundreds of arts and civic events ever since.

Quote of the Week

We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.
--Winston Churchill

Major Funding Provided By

Education Partners