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July 30, 2015 – August 5, 2015

Get on Your Feet

Saturday, August 1, is Washington Trails Day and this week salutes some of the men and women in Washington history who popularized hiking throughout our state. We begin with forest ranger Frederick W. Cleator, who surveyed many remote areas of Washington during the first half of the twentieth century, blazing trails for hikers to come. Many of those happy wanderers were later introduced to their travels by the famous 100 Hikes and Footsore series of books produced for The Mountaineers by the tireless Harvey Manning along with photographer Ira Spring.

Next we turn our attention to the conservationists and other outdoors advocates who have helped ensure that Washington's open spaces remain available for all to enjoy. Among them are such luminaries as Patrick Goldsworthy, Polly Dyer, Fred Beckey, Ruth Ittner, John Osborn and Rachael Paschal Osborn, Phil and Laura Zalesky, Janet Dawes, Doug Walker, Joan Thomas, Vim Wright, Helen Engle, and John Arum, and organizations like the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition , the North Cascades Conservation Council, and the Nisqually Delta Association.

We also thank some of the numerous government officials who have championed environmental issues, including William O. Douglas, Lloyd Meeds, Betty Fletcher, John Martinis, Bill Van Ness Jr., and of course senators "Scoop" Jackson and Warren Magnuson. And we'd be remiss if we didn't tip our hats to notable Northwest outfitters such as Eddie Bauer, REI, and Trager USA.

So get out there and enjoy Washington's mountains, rivers, petrified forests, flood plains, and other hiking spots in the north, west, east, south, and central regions of the state. And be sure to think about the folks who walked there before you, and those who will follow in your footsteps.

Spokane Feels the Heat

On August 4, 1889, a fire broke out in a wooden building along Railroad Avenue in Spokane. The flames quickly spread to other wooden structures, stoked by rubbish and refuse between buildings. Firefighters had no chance to extinguish the blaze, which grew to engulf the more substantial brick and stone buildings of the business district. By nightfall, the inferno had destroyed 32 square blocks, virtually the entire downtown.

Spokane was the last in a string of Washington cities to suffer a devastating fire that year. The nearby town of Cheney had its downtown reduced to rubble on April 18. On June 3, half the business district of Republic went up in flames, three days before much of downtown Seattle burned to the ground. And on July 4, some 200 homes and 10 business blocks were destroyed in Ellensburg.

News Then, History Now

Taking Pride: On August 2, 1875, Bailey Gatzert was elected as Seattle's first (and as yet only) Jewish mayor. Gatzert was a man of many firsts. As manager of the Seattle branch of Schwabacher Bros. & Co., he oversaw the construction of the city's first brick building. He was also a founding member of Seattle's first Jewish congregation, Ohaveth Shalom, and of Seattle's Rainier Club.

Sisters Provide: On August 2, 1878, the Sisters of Providence opened Seattle's first hospital on the present site of the William Kenzo Nakamura Federal Courthouse. One year later, on August 3, 1879, the cornerstone was laid for St. Mary's Hospital in Walla Walla, adjacent to St. Vincent's Academy, established by the Sisters of Providence in 1864.

Power on the Way: On July 31, 1899, hydroelectric generators began producing energy within the bowels of Snoqualmie Falls. They are still in operation today. This week also marks the anniversary of FDR's first visit to Grand Coulee Dam, on August 3, 1934. Three years later, the president signed the measure that created the Bonneville Power Administration, which continues to deliver power from Grand Coulee and 30 other dams.

Crime Doesn't Pay: This week is a grim one in Asotin County history. On August 5, 1903, a mob lynched the confessed murderer of a 12-year-old girl. And on August 5, 1931, a 12-year-old boy shot and killed the county sheriff.

Fire Fights: On August 2, 1909, a fire destroyed the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett. A new courthouse rose from the ashes, and was rededicated 100 years later. And on July 30, 1914, a flash fire destroyed Seattle's Grand Trunk Pacific dock.

Labor Plights: On July 31, 1934, the long and bitter West Coast Waterfront Strike of 1934 ended, and the arbitrated settlement that followed was a major victory for the International Longshoremen's Association and its leader Harry Bridges over waterfront employers -- and a rare setback for Seattle-based Teamster boss Dave Beck. Beck rebounded and created the Western Conference of Teamsters in 1937, which he controlled for 20 years until his tax troubles shook up union leadership.

Down the Ways: Seventy-five years ago this week, on August 3, 1940, Todd Shipyards launched the C-1 freighter Cape Alava from the company's Port of Tacoma shipyard. It was the first ship built at the Todd Tacoma yard since the facility was shuttered in 1925 following a decline in shipbuilding after World War I.

Work Delays: Two years ago this week, on July 30, 2013, the tunnel borer Bertha began digging the new State Route 99 tunnel underneath downtown Seattle. Excavation was supposed to be completed last year, but damage to the machine necessitated repairs that have delayed the project, and Bertha is expected to resume moving forward in a few months.

Quote of the Week

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

                                --John Muir

Image of the Week

Eighty years ago this week, on July 31, 1935, the Deception Pass and Canoe Pass bridges connecting Whidbey and Fidalgo islands were dedicated.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

Bailey Gatzert is elected mayor of Seattle on August 2, 1875.

Sisters of Providence open their first Seattle hospital on August 2, 1878.

Adelaide Post Office opens on August 2, 1886.

Fire destroys the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett on August 2, 1909.

Jordan Valley Coal Mine incorporates on August 2, 1918.

Citizens commemorate centennial of 1909 courthouse fire and rededicate the refurbished Snohomish County Courthouse on August 2, 2009.

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David Rodgers: The Crafting of Boats and Building of Seattle's Legacy

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