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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

10/17/2019

News Then, History Now

Raising a Pole

On October 18, 1899, Seattle unveiled in Pioneer Square its latest and proudest possession -- a 60-foot totem pole. The ugly side of this story was that some of Seattle's most prominent citizens, including James Clise, the acting president of the city's Chamber of Commerce, had gone to Alaska and swiped the pole from Tlingit Indians. Charges were filed, but little came of them. The totem pole lasted until it was humbled by an arsonist on October 22, 1938. Its burnt remains -- along with a check from the federal government -- were returned to the Tlingits, who magnanimously agreed to carve a replica, which still stands in Pioneer Square.

Razing the Stack

On October 19, 1906, residents of Tacoma's Smelter District voted to incorporate the city of Ruston, named in honor of the Tacoma Smelting and Refining Company's general manager, William Rust. For years, Ruston was home to what was once the world's largest smokestack, which was reduced to rubble by a controlled demolition in 1993.  

Gazing Above

On October 18, 1924, the USS Shenandoah, the first rigid, lighter-than-air craft to complete a transcontinental flight, arrived at Camp Lewis in Pierce County after flying north from San Diego. Five years later, on October 17, 1929, a giant Tupolev ANT-4 twin-engine airplane landed at Sand Point in Seattle after flying from Moscow in the Soviet Union.

Reds' Scold

On October 22, 1952, Wisconsin's communist-baiting Senator Joe McCarthy made his first political visit to Washington, campaigning for Republican presidential nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower and incumbent GOP Senator Harry P. Cain. McCarthy's trip didn't turn out quite as he had planned. The following day he was heckled by members of the Washington State Press Club, and KING-TV canceled his scheduled televised speech.

Head Cold

On October 21, 1962, President John F. Kennedy was scheduled to attend the closing of Seattle's Century 21 World's Fair, but he canceled at the last moment due to a "bad cold." The nation and world soon learned that the real reason Kennedy stayed in the other Washington was the discovery of Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba. This triggered what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the United States and the Soviet Union would ever come to nuclear war.

Rock and Rolled

On October 23, 1980, patrons of Seattle's Old Timer's Café got quite a surprise when visiting rocker Bruce Springsteen jumped on stage, borrowed a guitar, and played a few songs with the Lost Highway Band. And on October 22, 1990, a seminal moment in Seattle's grunge-rock history took place when Pearl Jam debuted as "Mookie Blaylock" at the Off Ramp Café.

Today in
Washington History

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Image of the Week

On October 23, 1915, Larrabee State Park was established in Whatcom County as Washington's first state park. The land was donated by the Larrabee family, who were very influential in the development of Bellingham.

Quote of the Week

"I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine."

--Kurt Vonnegut

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