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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


Jim Ellis

News Then, History Now

Two Sides Meet

In an effort to peacefully dispossess Eastern Washington tribes of their ancestral land, Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens convened the First Walla Walla Council on May 29, 1855. It didn't work out quite as planned. Stevens's earlier Point Elliott Treaty with Puget Sound tribes proved equally messy, although this did not prevent a commemoration of its signing at Juanita Beach on May 27, 1933.


Welcome the Fleet

In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt dispatched the U.S. Navy's Great White Fleet from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which included a tour of Puget Sound. When the ships arrived in Elliott Bay on May 23, many Seattleites beamed with pride upon seeing the USS Nebraska, which had been launched from the Moran Brothers shipyard four years earlier. The Nebraska was the only battleship ever built in Washington state, and its construction was buoyed by $100,000 raised by local boosters.

Out in the Street

On May 28, 1909, Queenie the elephant ran amok in White City, a short-lived amusement park located in Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood. And on May 23, 1958, a trailer bearing four of the creatures overturned on its way from the Woodland Park Zoo, sending the pachyderms on a romp through the Phinney neighborhood.

Kidnappers Flee

On May 24, 1935, 9-year-old George Weyerhaeuser, heir to the world's largest producer of lumber, was kidnapped on his way home from school in Tacoma. After a $200,000 ransom was paid, the boy was released unharmed, setting off the largest manhunt in the Northwest. Arrests were quickly made, but it took more than a year for the FBI to track down the ringleader.

Up a Tree

On May 23, 1991, the town of Forks shut down when its citizens traveled en masse to Olympia to protest critical-habitat protections for the northern spotted owl. Three years later, Federal District Court Judge William L. Dwyer upheld the federal spotted owl management plan in a key National Environmental Policy Act decision.

Cheers to Three

A trio of Washington's cities celebrate birthdays this week. In 1890, Davenport and Kent incorporated four days apart, on May 24 and May 28 respectively. And Pomeroy was incorporated on May 28, 1917.

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Image of the Week

Airplane crashes into the grandstand, Meadows Race Track, May 29, 1912

Washington's first aviation disaster occurred on May 30, 1912, at the Meadows Race Track when an airplane crashed into the grandstand, killing one and injuring 21 others.

Quote of the Week

"The next time a national magazine, or a book, places Seattle among the top-ranked cities in America, as it surely will do, it is good to remember why that is. It is because of Jim Ellis."

--Emmett Watson

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