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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

3/21/2019

News Then, History Now

Missing the Strait

On March 22, 1778, Captain James Cook named Cape Flattery in modern-day Clallam County as he unwittingly missed the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Captains Robert Gray and George Vancouver met near the same spot 14 years later. Vancouver left to explore Puget Sound and Gray went on to enter and name the Columbia River.

Crossing the Bar

The mouth of the Columbia figures in three anniversaries this week. On March 22, 1811, the crew of the ship Tonquin, owned by fur baron John Jacob Astor, spied the mouth of the great river. The hope was to establish a trading post on the Columbia, but currents proved treacherous and on March 26, 1811, Hawaiian Islanders traveling aboard the ship held a traditional funeral on the shore of Cape Disappointment for a lost countryman. Lastly, on March 25, 1813, a North West Company vessel carrying supplies departed eastern Canada for the Columbia River, a trip made more perilous by the War of 1812.

Moving the Seat

Not long after citizens in Cheney finally settled on a name for their town, a squabble arose with residents of Spokane Falls over which community should be the seat of Spokane County. After a close election and a recount, Spokane Falls barely won out. That didn't deter folks in Cheney, who on March 21, 1881, sneaked into the other town -- armed with guns -- and swiped the county records. They held onto the seat until a new election was held in 1886, but Spokane has been the county seat ever since.

Powering Up

Here are three electrifying anniversaries for this week. On March 22, 1886, Seattle agents of Thomas Edison switched on the first central incandescent-lighting plant west of the Rockies. On March 23, 1926, Tacoma City Light’s Cushman Dam No. 1 on the Skokomish River delivered its first electricity. And on March 22, 1941, two small service generators at Grand Coulee Dam went online for the first time, sending some 10,000 kilowatts of electricity into the transmission network of the the Bonneville Power Administration.

Sailing In

On March 25, 1921 -- less than three years after Pierce County voters created the Port of Tacoma -- the port's Pier 1 welcomed its first ship, which docked to take on cargo. Members of the International Longshoremen's Association worked around the clock to load 600,000 board feet of lumber in record-setting time. Within 24 hours after its arrival, the fully loaded Edmore set sail for Yokohama, Japan.

Swept Away

Five years ago this week, on March 22, 2014, a catastrophic landslide near the community of Oso -- between Arlington and Darrington in Snohomish County -- killed 43 people. It was the deadliest landslide in United States history. In addition to the loss of life, the disaster had severe impacts on the local economy and the environment and damaged a half-mile section of State Route 530, which took months to repair.

Today in
Washington History

New Essays This Week

Image of the Week

On March 22, 1872, the Seattle Coal & Transportation Company began operating Seattle's first railroad, which ran from the south end of Lake Union to the foot of Pike Street.

Quote of the Week

A word after a word after a word is power.

--Margaret Atwood

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