March 6, 2014 - March 12, 2014
Ship of State
Twenty-five years ago this week, on March 7, 1989, the Lady Washington took to the water for the first time at her home port of Aberdeen. Launched during the centennial celebration of Washington's statehood, the ship is a full-scale replica of the original Lady Washington, once captained by Robert Gray, eponym of Grays Harbor. (Image courtesy Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority)
The modern Lady Washington contains approximately six miles of rigging, and her figurehead was carved by Bob McCausland, a former cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In 2007, the Lady Washington was named the official ship of the State of Washington, and she often travels the Pacific Coast with her sailing partner, the Hawaiian Chieftain. Film buffs may also recognize the vessel from appearances in such films as Star Trek: Generations and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. More recently, she has been seen in Macklemore's "Can't Hold Us" music video.
And we'd be remiss this week if we didn't note the anniversary of another beloved Pacific Northwest vessel -- the Virginia V. This last surviving member of Puget Sound's mosquito fleet was launched on March 9, 1922, and has been owned or operated by a variety of people over the years, including hit-maker Joe Boles. The sturdy steamer has hosted countless wedding receptions, high school proms, scouting trips, and other excursions, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
On March 7, 1982, the Washington House of Representatives voted to cover up murals in the House chamber that had only recently been commissioned by the state. Some legislators felt that Michael Spafford's "The Twelve Labors of Hercules" was too abstract, while others considered it obscene. The controversy did not end with the coverup.
For the next twenty years, Spafford's murals, along with murals by Alden Mason in the Senate chamber, underwent a lengthy political and judicial odyssey that resulted in their eventual removal and relocation. Today, the two sets of artwork can be seen at Centralia College, although both artists said they would rather see the site-specific works destroyed than hung elsewhere than in the House and Senate.
News Then, History Now
Home Site: On March 10, 1871, David Longmire purchased a homestead in the Wenas Valley, where he became one of the region's leading citizens. Part of Longmire's homestead once belonged to Owhi -- a chief of the Yakamas -- who in 1853 sold potatoes from his gardens to the Longmire-Byles wagon train, when David was just a young boy.
First Flight: Washingtonians got their first look at an aeroplane on March 11, 1910, when Charles Hamilton demonstrated his Curtiss biplane on the muddy expanse of the Meadows Race Track in Georgetown. The flights ended abruptly when Hamilton dunked the machine into a pond, which didn't stop the aviator from wowing crowds in Spokane a few weeks later.
From Rails ... : Seattle's streetcar lines were first developed by private entrepreneurs, then consolidated into monopolies. Reformers advocated public ownership, which led Seattle voters to approve the purchase of the Rainier Valley interurban between downtown and Renton on March 7, 1911. The city government bought all the streetcar routes in 1919 at an inflated price, which doomed the system to slow decay. Voters stuck by their streetcars in a special referendum on March 9, 1937, but they were scrapped anyway.
... to Roads: On March 8, 1911, the state's Permanent Highway Act became law, to aid commerce by connecting trade centers. But construction and maintenance of roadways didn't speed up until the gas tax was enacted in March 1921, and doubled two years later.
Smuggling Booze: On March 7, 1922, a week-long bootlegger's convention held in Seattle came to a close, with regional rumrunners coming to agreement on the rules of their "trade." Prohibition had been in effect since 1916, and it wasn't until 1933 that the illegal flow of liquor was stanched for good. Interestingly enough, the bootleggers held their convention on the anniversary of the state's first law banning cigarettes, one of several failed attempts at cigarette prohibition in Washington from 1893 to 1911.
Voters Choose: On March 11, 1952, and again on March 12, 1963, Seattle citizens nixed the addition of fluoride to the city's water supply. Fluoridated water finally won the approval of a smiling majority in November 1968, and the Seattle water department began fluoridation in January 1970.
Confrontation: On March 8, 1970, Native American and other protesters (including Leonard Peltier and Jane Fonda) clashed with military police in an attempt to reclaim Fort Lawton for local tribes. The protests were led by Bob Satiacum and by Bernie Whitebear, who would go on to found Daybreak Star Center in today's Discovery Park.
Conservation: On March 7, 1991, U.S. District Court Judge William Dwyer blocked sales of timber from national forests to protect the northern spotted owl. His ruling was later relaxed, but concerns for the survival of salmon runs have put new pressure on the region's timber industry.
Quote of the Week
I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky.
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.
Image of the Week
On March 10, 1957, Celilo Falls disappeared into memory, just hours after floodgates closed on newly completed The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River.