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July 21, 2016 – July 27, 2016

Near and Far

Summer is here, and this week HistoryLink offers up an A-to-Z tour of places in Washington you might like to visit during your vacation travels. We'll begin by acquainting you with Anacortes before bounding down to Battle Ground. Cruise the Columbia River, drop by Dayton, then enjoy everything Ellensburg has to offer. Follow us as we fly to Friday Harbor, go to Grandview, and hop over to Hanford Reach.

Investigate the Ice Age floods and then journey to Jordan, after which you can kick back in Kennewick. Look around Langley and then motor on over to Metaline Falls. Next up is the Nisqually Delta, then over the Cascades to Okanogan before proceeding to Point Roberts.

Enjoy the quaint charm of Seattle's Queen Anne Hill, ride over to Republic, then stop by Sunnyside before traveling to Toppenish. After that, get underway to Union Gap, visit Vancouver, and wonder where Wawawai went while you are searching for a place that begins with "X." Yikes, you've ended up in Yakima County, home to Zillah.

Start the Car

On July 23, 1900, Ralph Hopkins arrived in Seattle after driving his Woods Electric automobile west from Chicago to San Francisco, then north (with lifts from trains helping out here and there). His was the first car to travel Seattle's streets and was most likely the first one ever seen in Washington.

By 1904 there were enough cars in Washington to warrant creation of the state's first Auto Club, the predecessor of AAA Washington. This group collaborated with Sam Hill's Good Roads Association to improve early roads and promote the construction of public highways. The Good Roads Association also pushed for the creation of a State Highway Board, which was established in 1905.

The need for speed increased once Henry Ford's Model T was introduced and cars became affordable to middle-class Americans. In 1911 Governor Marion Hay signed the Permanent Highway Act, which created a fund for construction of hard-surfaced roads between the state's trade centers. The Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 assisted in these efforts. Over time, the State Highway Board evolved into the Washington State Transportation Commission, which now oversees the Washington State Department of Transportation.

News Then, History Now

Stopping By: In the spring of 1811 representatives of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company established Fort Astoria as the first American trading post on the Columbia River. Just as the Astorians were preparing for their first inland expedition in mid-July, they were surprised by the appearance of a rival group of traders led by David Thompson of the Montreal-based North West Company. The Canadians rested at Fort Astoria for a week before leaving on July 22 to return upriver.

Passing Through: On July 21 and 22, 1869, former Secretary of State William Seward toured Puget Sound on his way to Alaska and spoke out on the development of Washington Territory. Two years earlier, while still in office, Seward had fought for the purchase of Alaska from Russia. At the time, some viewed his decision as folly, but it would later have far-reaching effects on our state.

On the Street: One hundred years ago this week, on July 27, 1916, the first Birney Streetcar went into service in Seattle. Originally called the Safety Car, it soon took the name of its designer -- Seattleite Charles O. Birney, otherwise known as the "Edison of the street railway industry." Six thousand Birney Cars would later be built and operated in cities throughout the United States and Canada.

Feel the Heat: On July 24, 1924, most of downtown Twisp went up in flames. Exactly 70 years later, on July 24, 1994, the Tyee Creek Fire began north of Wenatchee and burned 135,000 acres over the next 33 days.

Black and White: On July 26, 1924, some 13,000 members and supporters of the Ku Klux Klan staged a rally near Issaquah, more than 40 years after the town's previous bout with racial unrest. Twenty years later Seattle struggled with potential racial violence, and the Civic Unity Committee was praised on July 24, 1944, for its efforts to quell unrest. Two decades later, on July 25, 1963, the first sit-in arrests of Seattle's modern civil rights movement demonstrated that racism was hardly a thing of the past.

Opening Night: On July 24, 1939, Seattle's Showbox Ballroom opened as the Show Box. Over the years this venerable venue from the Jazz Age has moved with the groove, hosting rock, punk, hip-hop, grunge, pop music, and more. In other music history, this week also marks the July 25, 1969, anniversary of the Seattle Pop Festival when Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Santana performed in Woodinville. No doubt some audience members had enjoyed the Sky River Rock Festival high in the Cascade foothills near Sultan a year earlier.

Quote of the Week

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

                                         -- Jack Kerouac

Image of the Week

Tenino incorporated on July 24, 1906.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

Ohaveth Sholum Congregation, Seattle's first Jewish congregation, is established on July 25, 1889.

First sit-in arrests of Seattle's civil rights movement occur on July 25, 1963.

Seattle Pop Festival held in Woodinville on July 25, 1969.

Monorail crashes into steel girder at Seattle Center, injuring 26, on July 25, 1971.

New Essays This Week       RSS Feed

Camp Lewis Library (Liberty Library) opens on November 28, 1917.

James, Bill (b. 1944)

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