The free online encyclopedia of Washington state history

8257 articles now available.

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

Working Vacation

On July 21 and 22, 1869, former Secretary of State William Seward toured Puget Sound on his way to Alaska, and he spoke on the development of Washington Territory. Two years earlier, while in office, Seward had fought for the purchase of Alaska from Russia. Decades later, the discovery of gold in Alaska proved such a boon to Seattle that the grateful city memorialized Seward with a statue, a school, a park, and a neighborhood.


On July 21, 1911, members of the Fern Bluff Grange in Sultan approved a resolution opposing development of a proposed Western Tuskegee community for Black settlers. Supporters of the plan envisioned an 800-acre settlement north of town where Black agriculturalists and entrepreneurs could create a self-supporting community, but opponents claimed that locating a Black community next to a white community would lead to strife. 


Movie Sensation

On July 18, 1930, Howard Hughes's Hell’s Angels had its first premiere outside of Hollywood at the Fox Theatre in Seattle, with star Jean Harlow in attendance. Although the theater was only a year old, Hughes paid the owners to upgrade the venue and sent an advance team of expert technicians, along with a boxcar of special equipment, including an enlarged screen, new projectors, and an improved sound system.

On With the Show

On July 24, 1939, Seattle's Showbox Ballroom opened as the Show Box. Over the years, this venerable venue from the Jazz Age has moved with the groove, hosting rock, punk, hip-hop, grunge, pop music, and more. Very few dance halls in the state have had such a long and illustrious career.

Clean Waters Flow

This week marks three anniversaries in water-quality history, beginning with the groundbreaking of the Renton Treatment Plant on July 20, 1961, which included a parade through the "Metro Subway." Four years later, the plant was dedicated on July 22, 1965. And on July 20, 1966, the West Point wastewater treatment plant was dedicated on the shores of Magnolia, helping to fulfill Metro's 1958 promise to clean up Lake Washington.

Trains on the Go

Fifteen years ago this week, on July 18, 2009, Seattle's light-rail era began as Sound Transit's Link light-rail trains carried their first passengers between downtown Seattle and Tukwila. By the end of the year, the service reached Sea-Tac airport, and in 2016 the line was extended north to Capitol Hill and UW. In 2021 the trains reached Northgate, and work continues to expand the service further with service to Lynnwood as well as the Eastside.

Today in
Washington History

New On HistoryLink

Image of the Week

Tenino train station

Tenino incorporated on July 24, 1906.

Quote of the Week

"This valley, as it looked to me that day, was the loveliest spot I had ever seen — to the west, the great Cascade range, to the northwest the needle peaks of Pish-pish-ash-tan stood as silent sentinels over the beautiful dell below, where the Yakima wound its way the length of the valley and disappeared down the grand canyon. From the mountains to the north flowed many smaller streams, while the plain was dotted here and there with groves and thickly carpeted with grass. It was truly the land of plenty"

--A. J. Splawn, describing the Kittitas Valley

Major Funding Provided By

Education Partners