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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


A sailing ship on a rough sea, perhaps the Robert Bruce and perhaps on fire, with several dim figures on the shoreline.

News Then, History Now

First Edition

Seattle's first newspaper, the Seattle Gazette, hit the streets on December 10, 1863. Just over three years and seven publishers later, the paper folded, about the same time that the Weekly Intelligencer began publication. In 1896, Alden J. Blethen took over a small paper named the The Seattle Times and built up its circulation.

Message Transmission

On December 7, 1941, at 1:28 a.m., a secret United States Navy radio station on Bainbridge Island intercepted a message from Tokyo to the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C. The message instructed the Japanese ambassador to break off peace negotiations with the United States, but its real purpose was to inform the ambassador that Japanese forces were about to attack Pearl Harbor. By the time the intercepted message was delivered to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., the battle had begun, and the U.S. declared war the next day.

Holiday Tradition

On December 13, 1949, Bellingham lit the world's tallest Christmas tree but was bested a year later by Seattle's Northgate Shopping Center. And on December 13, 1983, the Pacific Northwest Ballet premiered a production of Nutcracker, with sets and costumes designed by Maurice Sendak.

Trapped Underground

On December 13, 1950, coal miner John Wolti was trapped in a collapsed mine at the now-forgotten mining town of Elk Coal in southeast King County. He suffered a 54-hour ordeal 400 feet underground before his rescue. It was the third time that Wolti narrowly escaped death in an underground mine accident, and he decided to become a chicken rancher instead.

Don't Come Around

On December 10, 1954, University of Washington President Dr. Henry Schmitz disapproved the nomination of J. Robert Oppenheimer as that year's Walker-Ames Lecturer. No reason was given, but the famed physicist and "father of the atomic bomb" was under attack for his alleged pro-Communist views. It wasn't the first time the UW succumbed to Cold War hysteria.

Champions Crowned

On December 10, 2016, Seattle Sounders FC won its first Major League Soccer Championship, seven years after its debut. In 2019 it won its second MLS cup in front of the biggest crowd ever at CenturyLink Field.

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Image of the Week

The grunge-rock band Nirvana playing at Pier 48 on December 13, 1993

Thirty years ago this week, on December 13, 1993, Nirvana performed their legendary Live and Loud concert on Pier 48 in Seattle.

Quote of the Week

"There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath."

--Herman Melville

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