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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

Hot and Sweaty

On May 20, 1885, most of Whatcom's business district was destroyed by fire but local tipplers were able to save most of the town's liquor supply. And on May 20, 1958, a massive fire destroyed the Seattle Cedar Manufacturing plant in Ballard, with five-foot-long pieces of burning lumber carried up to two miles away by wind currents.

Travels with Teddy

On May 22, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt made Chehalis the first stop of a whirlwind tour through the state. The next day in Seattle, he signed in as the inaugural guest at the Washington Hotel atop Denny Hill and visited Fort Lawton. Two days later he briefly visited North Yakima before heading off to Walla Walla, where he spoke at Whitman College.

Sing It Loud

On May 21, 1918, singer and songwriter Arthur Freed -- who years later produced such classic musicals as An American in Paris and Singin' in the Rain -- performed at the Jewish Welfare House at Camp Lewis. And on May 18, 1952, Paul Robeson performed at an outdoor concert for more than 25,000 people at Peace Arch Park in Blaine on the Canadian border. 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 he overcame cold-war hysteria to make his voice heard.

Welcome Crowd

Forty year ago this week, on May 20, 1977, the Seattle Aquarium opened to enthusiastic well-wishers. Funded by Forward Thrust bonds, the aquarium was an immediate success. Since its opening, visitors to the award-winning aquarium have seen additions, expansions, and an array of exhibits and other aquatic experiments.

Watch It Blow

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens popped its lid, belching out rivers of mud and a plume of boiling gas. Ash dumped all over Eastern Washington, forcing travelers off the highways. This caused tremendous problems in Ritzville, some 200 miles away from the volcano.

Five in a Row

A handful of Washington cities are celebrating birthdays this week, beginning with Blaine, which incorporated on May 20, 1890. Hoquiam incorporated the next day, followed by Davenport on May 24. One year later, Anacortes incorporated on May 19, 1891, and Arlington did the same on May 20, 1903.

Today in
Washington History

New Essays This Week

Image of the Week

The Great White Fleet visited Seattle on May 23, 1908.

Quote of the Week

The more unknowable the mystery, the more beautiful it is.
--David Lynch

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