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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


News Then, History Now

When Vancouver Was New

On January 23, 1857, the Washington Territorial Legislature incorporated the City of Vancouver in what is now Clark County. The city traces its roots to the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company’s Fort Vancouver in 1825 and Columbia (later Vancouver) Barracks, built by the U.S. Army in 1849.

Down in the Blue

On January 22, 1906, the SS Valencia -- lost in the rain and fog  en route to Victoria, British Columbia -- missed the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and smashed into the coast of Vancouver Island. In the ensuing mayhem to abandon ship, 136 passengers and crew either drowned or were dashed against the rocks. As the ship foundered, women on board were heard singing “Nearer My God to Thee,” a hymn also associated with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

My How They Flew

A rare upset occurred in the world of sports on January 21, 1952, when the Seattle University Chieftains beat the Harlem Globetrotters by a score of 84 to 81. Much of the credit for the Chieftains' victory went to the "Flyin' O'Briens" -- Ed and John -- who went on to become the university's athletic director and a King County commissioner, respectively.

A Life That Was Ended

On January 26, 1969, civil rights leader and Seattle Urban League Executive Director Edwin Pratt was killed by a shotgun blast outside his home in Shoreline. The assailants were never found.

A Bridge That Is Splendid

Twenty-five years ago this week, on January 22, 1997, the eye-catching SR 509 cable-stayed bridge over the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma opened to traffic. The nearby Blair Bridge was closed the next day and later demolished to make way for greater development of the Port of Tacoma.

Our World Upended

Two years ago this week, on January 20, 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States was diagnosed in Snohomish County. Less than a week later, two people died from COVID-19 in Kirkland, and on February 29 they became the first such deaths announced in the country. The first vaccinations became available at the end of 2020, but the global death toll from the virus has now reached into the millions.

Today in
Washington History

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Image of the Week

On January 25, 1986, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer globe was installed atop the paper's new headquarters on Elliott Avenue.

Quote of the Week

"Only a catastrophe gets our attention. We want them, we depend on them. As long as they happen somewhere else."

--Don DeLillo

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