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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

Mercer Brings

On May 16, 1864, a ship carrying 11 young women arrived in Seattle from New England under the escort of Asa Shinn Mercer. This first of two contingents of Mercer Girls had an instant impact on Seattle's mostly male frontier culture and included the town's first public-school teacher. It would later inspire the TV series Here Come the Brides. And Asa Mercer is remembered these days too, appropriately enough, with a Seattle middle school named in his honor.

Hot Springs

On May 15, 1912, near the Olympic Mountains, the first visitors to the Sol Duc Hot Springs resort enjoyed soothing warm waters in a sylvan setting. The spa became more popular after the Olympic Loop Highway opened in 1931.

Paul Sings

Seventy years ago this week, on May 18, 1952, Paul Robeson performed at an outdoor concert for more than 25,000 people at Peace Arch Park in Blaine. His passport had been confiscated due to his political views, which prevented his entry into Canada. Two days later he was almost barred from speaking and performing in Seattle, but overcame cold-war hysteria to make his voice heard.

Opening Up

On May 13, 1977, the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center opened its doors in Discovery Park, located in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. Founded by Native American leader Bernie Whitebear, with the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation as its parent organization, the Daybreak Star Center serves as an urban base for Native Americans in the Seattle Area.

Blowing Up

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, spewing hot gasses that melted the peak's snow and ice and triggered a massive avalanche of mud and pulverized rock. Ash was dumped all over Eastern Washington, forcing travelers off the highways and causing tremendous problems in Ritzville, some 200 miles away.

Starting Up

Cities celebrating birthdays this week include Aberdeen, which incorporated on May 12, 1890; Shelton, which incorporated five days later; and Oak Harbor, which incorporated on May 14, 1915.

Today in
Washington History

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Image of the Week

Interstate 5 was completed in Washington on May 14, 1969.

Quote of the Week

“Th’ unwieldy elephant, to make them mirth, us’d all his might, and wreathed His lithe proboscis.”

-- John Milton

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