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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

Work to be Done

On December 15, 1868, 24-year-old Chun Ching Hock -- believed to be Seattle's first Chinese immigrant -- opened the Wa Chong Company, a general-merchandise store at the foot of Mill Street (now Yesler Way). Chun moved back to China in 1900, but remained an owner of the company, which later moved to 719 S King Street, now home to the Wing Luke Asian Museum in the Chinatown-International District.

Medals are Won

On December 15, 1899, students at the University of Washington accepted an offer from developer and rowing aficionado E. F. Blaine to help establish a rowing club on campus. In 1936 a UW crew won Olympic gold in a shell designed and built by George Pocock, whose sleek creations were used by American rowers to win many national and international competitions.

Doesn't Sound Fun

On December 13, 1950, coal miner John Wolti was trapped in a collapsed mine at the now-forgotten mining town of Elk Coal in southeast King County.  He suffered a 54-hour ordeal 400 feet underground before his rescue. And on December 18, 1955, Staff Sergeant John M. Horan, an Army paratrooper, was forced to bail out of an ice-covered plane high above the Cascades. Wearing only his winter dress uniform, boots, and an overcoat, Horan survived four days in a snowbound wilderness before hiking 12 miles out of the mountains to safety.

Engines Engage

In December 1965 the Washington State Highway Commission -- seeking to build four new ferryboats -- turned to California when a thin budget precluded any plans to contract with a Washington shipyard. The ferries Hyak and Elwha were launched on December 17, 1966, and December 16, 1967, respectively, and their sister ships Kaleetan and Yakima soon followed in their wake.

Turning a Page

On December 12, 1965, the Des Moines Library was dedicated, the first library in the state to be financed by federal matching funds. And on December 13, 1975, the Broadview Branch of The Seattle Public Library opened, and included an unveiling of four carved and painted murals of Haida designs by Northwest Native American artist Marvin Oliver.

Setting the Stage

On December 13, 1972, Intiman Theatre launched its debut season in Kirkland with a performance of Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm. In 1987 the theater moved to its current home, the Playhouse at Seattle Center, where it has staged several award-winning plays, receiving the 2006 Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2006.

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Image of the Week

One hundred years ago this week, on December 12, 1919, Helen Louise Ferera -- Seattle’s star Hawaiian guitarist -- disappeared aboard the SS President, en route from Los Angeles to Seattle.

Quote of the Week

"The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library."

--Albert Einstein

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