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March 26, 2015 - April 1, 2015

Deadly Journey

One hundred years ago this week, a terrible automobile accident killed four of Seattle's prominent citizens -- each of whom made their mark on the city's history. On March 30, 1915, Thomas Prosch, his wife, Virginia McCarver Prosch, artist Harriet Foster Beecher, Emily Carkeek, and Margaret Lenora Denny were traveling back to Seattle from Tacoma after a meeting of the Washington Historical Society. As they approached the Riverton Bridge in Allentown -- now part of Tukwila -- the driver of Carkeek's car swerved to avoid two children. The vehicle plunged into the Duwamish River, and only Carkeek and her driver, Paul Kumai, survived.

Denny was the daughter of Seattle founder Arthur Denny and was 4 years old when her father and the rest of his party landed at Alki Point in 1851. She was also one of the first students at the Territorial University, which later became UW. Harriet Foster Beecher was a noted painter, and is believed to have opened Seattle's first art studio, in 1881. Her paintings were shown in many regional and national exhibitions, including the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. 

In 1873 Thomas Prosch began publishing Tacoma's first newspaper, the Pacific Tribune. The paper was printed in Tacoma for only two years, after which Prosch moved it to Seattle, where he later became publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In 1877 Prosch married Virginia McCarver, the daughter of Tacoma founder Morton Matthew McCarver.

In 1886 Prosch sold his newspaper and focused his energy on documenting Washington history. As one of the region's earliest and most learned historians, he often was called upon to speak at a variety of historic events. Prosch and his wife are interred at Lakeview Cemetery on Seattle's Capitol Hill. If you visit them, look directly to the west and you'll find the gravestone of Walt Crowley, another journalist/historian of note.

Sporting Tourney

Hey sports fans -- take note of March 26. It was on that day in 1917 when the Seattle Metropolitans hockey team won the Stanley Cup. The city wouldn't see another national sports championship until the Sonics won the NBA crown in 1979.

And March 26 this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Rat City Rollergirls competing in their first roller-derby match, held at the Southgate Roller Rink in White Center. The battling sportsters -- who have since moved their "Rat's Nest" to Shoreline -- have become so popular they now play bouts in Seattle Center's Key Arena.

Lest we forget, March 26 is also the day we bade a spectacular farewell to one of our more controversial sports venues. It was 15 years ago on that day in 2000 when the Kingdome was imploded -- one day short of the 24th anniversary of its opening.

News Then, History Now

Heat of the Battle: In the 1850s many Native Americans rose up against treaties largely dictated by Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, and one of the bloodier engagements of Washington Territory's 1855-1858 Indian Wars took place at the Cascades of the Columbia on March 26, 1856. The battle site is now home of Bonneville Dam.

Streets of Seattle: On March 31, 1889, Seattle's first electric streetcar took to the streets and was an immediate success. The people of Seattle officially took over operation of the city's streetcar lines on April 1, 1919, but the date of the deed should have given someone pause. It soon turned out that Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson had paid a grossly inflated price of $15 million and accepted disastrous terms to acquire the private system from the giant utility cartel Stone & Webster, which had gobbled up all local streetcar lines by 1900.

Mazel Tov: On April 1, 1901, Congregation Keneseth Israel organized as Spokane's first Orthodox Jewish congregation. In 1966 it merged with the city's other main Jewish congregation and became Temple Beth Shalom. This week also marks the March 29, 1936, creation of B'nai B'rith Lodge No. 1220 and its women's auxiliary, which served the Walla Walla community up until the 1970s.

Holding Off: In 1907 Seattle went on an annexation spree, gathering up such neighborhoods as Southeast Seattle, Ravenna, South Park, Columbia City, Ballard, and West Seattle. One notable holdout was Georgetown, which feared losing its saloons and brewery to Seattle's dry laws. But the small municipality struggled with the costs of public services and eventually became part of the big city to the north on March 29, 1910.

Wedding Plans: Not that long ago, marriages between men and women of different races were not only frowned upon, but banned by many states, including California, where Gunjiro Aoki and Gladys Emery fell in love. The press tracked their elopement to Seattle, which had no such restrictions, and the couple tied the knot on March 27, 1909, at Trinity Parish Church.

Miss Spokane: On March 29, 1912, Marguerite Motie became the first Miss Spokane, the city's official hostess. Her reign lasted until she married in 1920, but she continued to don her costume whenever civic leaders requested her presence at important events. A new Miss Spokane wasn't chosen until 1939, and various women took on the role until the title was retired in 1977.

Heading North: On March 30, 1988, Helen Thayer set out to become the first woman to make a solo journey to the magnetic North Pole, which she reached on April 18. Six years later, on April 1, 1994, she and her husband, Bill, traveled back to the Arctic Circle to spend a year studying gray wolves.

Marching Forth: Washington cities celebrating birthdays this week include Bellevue, which became a city on March 31, 1953; Woodinville, which turns 22 on March 27; and Spokane Valley, which instantly became the state's ninth largest city when it formed 12 years ago on March 31, 2003.

Quote of the Week

News is only the first rough draft of history.

                              -- Alan Barth

Image of the Week

On March 29, 1930, the Longview Bridge -- later renamed the Lewis and Clark Bridge -- opened over the Columbia River.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

Nicholas Delin begins construction of a sawmill at the head of Commencement Bay on April 1, 1852.

Promoter Morton Matthew McCarver arrives at Eureka, later Tacoma, on April 1, 1868.

Dell Post Office opens on April 1, 1901.

Congregation Keneseth Israel organizes as Spokane's first Orthodox Jewish congregation on April 1, 1901.

Shingle weavers strike Ballard shingle mills on April 1, 1906.

Seattle City Light becomes an independent department on April 1, 1910.

Charles Chaplin appears at Seattle's Empress Theatre beginning April 1, 1912.

Seattle takes over ownership and operation of streetcar system on April 1, 1919.

Governor Roland H. Hartley appoints J. Webster Hoover as State Highway Engineer on April 1, 1925.

Homeless men in Seattle refuse to leave shelter on April 1, 1939.

Magnolia Station, The Seattle Public Library, opens on April 1, 1943.

The Ephrata Army Air Base switches from heavy bomber training to fighter pilot training on April 1, 1944.

Washington establishes an office for clearing the route of the Seattle Freeway (Interstate 5) on April 1, 1957.

Seattle's first Be-In is held in Cowen Park on April 1, 1967.

Black Arts/West theater opens in Central Area on April 1, 1969.

Seattle Aquarium receives highest achievement award for engineering excellence on April 1, 1977.

Washington Legislature enacts Growth Management Act on April 1, 1990.

Antiwar activists spoof the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on April 1, 1991.

Covington Library opens on April 1, 1993.

Helen and Bill Thayer set out for a year in the Arctic Circle to study the gray wolf on April 1, 1994.

New Essays This Week       RSS Feed

Colonel Burton Andrus assumes command of Nazi-war-crimes interrogation center and holding facility on May 6, 1945.

A new section of the Pacific Highway from Blaine to Ferndale, including the Dakota Creek Bridge, opens to traffic on October 13, 1928.

Portal Way/Dakota Creek Bridge

Seattle hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform their gay-rights hit "Same Love" at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2014.

San Juan County commissioners approve ordinance, creating a land bank to acquire and preserve open space and conservation areas, on September 5, 1990.

Same Love: A Brief History of Queer Musicians in the Northwest

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