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Milestones for Washington State History -- Part 3: 1901 to 1950

HistoryLink.org Essay 5381 : Printer-Friendly Format

This is a brief chronology of the milestones of Washington history. Part 3 covers 1901 to 1950. Search the HistoryLink.org database for detailed essays on these events.


  • Yacolt Burn, largest forest fire in recorded state history burns from September 11 to 13, 1902.
  • Freeland, a socialist utopian community, is established on Whidbey Island, 1902.
  • Weyerhaeuser establishes a sawmill in Everett in 1903.
  • Washington State Legislature creates Benton County (out of Klickitat) on March 8, 1905.
  • Colville National Forest is established in 1906.
  • Nez Perce Chief Joseph dies and is buried at Nespelem on the Colville Indian Reservation on September 21, 1904.
  • Last horse roundup near Ephrata (300 cowboys, 2,400 horses) takes place in 1906.
  • Washington State Legislature creates Grant County (out of Douglas) on February 24, 1909.
  • IWW Free Speech movement takes place in Spokane in 1909.
  • Harbor Island, at the time the world's largest artificial island, is completed in 1909.
  • Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (AYP) exposition opens for a 138 day run on June 1, 1909..
  • Charles Hamilton pilots Seattle’s first airplane on March 11, 1910.
  • Washington state women win vote on November 8, 1910.
  • The Wellington train disaster occurs on March 1, 1910.
  • Population of Washington state is 1,141,990 in 1910.


  • Washington State Legislature creates Pend Oreille County (out of Stevens) on March 1, 1911.
  • Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (“Milwaukee Road”) is completed through Washington in 1911 and shares Seattle’s Union Station with the Union Pacific and Oregon & Washington Railroads.
  • Voters amend Washington State Constitution in 1912 to permit citizen initiatives and referenda.
  • Seattle’s Smith Tower opens on July 4, 1914, as tallest building west of Ohio.
  • Nellie Cornish founds Cornish School in 1914.
  • Reah Whitehead becomes the first female Justice of the Peace in Washington in 1914.
  • Boeing takes his first airplane ride on July 4, 1915.
  • Prohibition of alcohol takes effect in Washington on January 1, 1916.
  • Everett Massacre occurs on November 5, 1916.
  • Seattle Metropolitans hockey team wins Stanley Cup on March 26, 1917.
  • U. S. enters World War I on April 6, 1917.
  • Lake Washington Ship Canal is completed on May 8, 1917.
  • Boeing Airplane Co., formerly Pacific Aero-Products, is incorporated on May 9, 1917.
  • World War I ends on November 11, 1918.
  • Influenza Pandemic 1918.
  • Seattle General Strike begins January 6, 1919.
  • Boeing and Hubbard deliver first shipment of international airmail on March 3, 1919.
  • Oak Harbor fire, July 1920.
  • Washington’s first radio stations begin broadcasting in 1920.
  • Population of Washington state is 1,356,621 in 1920.


  • Great blow-down on Washington coast on January 21, 1921.
  • Washington state legislators pass the Alien Land Law in 1921.
  • Indian Citizenship Act makes all Native Americans U.S. citizens on June 2, 1924.
  • U.S. Army flyers depart Seattle’s Sand Point airfield for first aerial circumnavigation of the globe on April 6 and return September 28, 1924.
  • Seattle elects Bertha K. Landes as first woman mayor of a major American city on March 9, 1926.
  • Lindbergh lands the Spirit of St. Louis in Seattle and in Spokane in September 1927.
  • Boeing enters airline business by winning federal airmail contract for Chicago-San Francisco route on January 28, 1927.
  • Don Ibsen, one of several inventors of waterskis, invents his version on Lake Washington in 1928.
  • Boeing Field is dedicated in Seattle on July 26, 1928.
  • Stock market crash, called Black Tuesday, hits on October 29, 1929.
  • Elizabeth Ayer is first woman registered as an architect in Washington in 1930.
  • Population of Washington state is 1,563,396 in 1930.


  • Rock Island dam, first dam on Columbia River, is completed in 1932.
  • Warren G. Magnuson wins his first election and Franklin Roosevelt and Democrats sweep to victory on November 8, 1932.
  • Boeing 247 takes flight from Boeing Field, opening new vistas in commercial air travel, on February 8, 1933.
  • Seattle Art Museum opens in Volunteer Park on June 23, 1933.
  • Prohibition ends on December 5, 1933.
  • Longshoremen and maritime workers strike West Coast and Seattle on May 9, 1934.
  • Wheeler-Howard Act (Indian Reorganization Act) shifts U.S. policy toward Native American right to self-determination on June 18, 1934.
  • Liberal-left Washington Commonwealth Federation is founded on June 8, 1935.
  • Eddie Bauer invents the down parka in Seattle in 1936.
  • University of Washington rowing crew wins the Olympic Gold Medal on August 14, 1936.
  • Bonneville Dam is completed in 1938.
  • Boeing Model 307 Stratoliner, world's first pressurized airliner, makes its maiden flight on December 31, 1938.
  • REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) is founded in Seattle in 1939.
  • Puget Sound ferry workers strike in August 1939.
  • Lake Washington Floating Bridge, first in the world, opens on July 2, 1940.
  • First peacetime draft takes effect on October 16, 1940.
  • Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses on November 7, 1940.
  • McChord Army Air Corps (later Air Force) Base opens in Tacoma on July 3, 1940.
  • Everett-born Henry “Scoop” Jackson is first elected to Congress in 1940.
  • Population of Washington state is 1,736,191 in 1940.


  • Whidbey Island Navel Air Station established in 1941.
  • Grand Coulee Dam is completed in September 1941.
  • Weyerhaeuser dedicates the nation's first tree farm near Montesano on June 21, 1941.
  • Japan bombs Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
  • United States declares war on Japan on December 8, 1941.
  • FDR signs Executive Order 9066 expelling Japanese Americans from the West Coast on February 19, 1942.
  • Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix is born in Seattle on November 27, 1942.
  • Hanford Nuclear Plant starts being built in Richland in 1942.
  • Warren G. Magnuson wins first of six terms in U.S. Senate on November 7, 1944.
  • University of Washington School of Medicine (and future Health Sciences Center) opens in 1946.
  • Washington State Legislature passes Un-American Activities bill on March 8, 1947.
  • Pilot reports world’s first encounter with “flying saucers” while flying over the Cascades on June 24, 1947.
  • First Columbia Basin irrigation water turned on at Pasco Heights on May 15, 1948.
  • About 1,000 Puget Sound television owners watch Washington’s first wide-audience TV broadcast on November 25, 1948.
  • Earthquake shakes Puget Sound on April 13, 1949.
  • Governor Arthur Langley dedicates Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport on July 9, 1949.
  • Population of Washington state is 2,378,963 in 1950.

To go to Part 4, click "Browse to Next Essay" below.

For the sources documenting these events, review detailed essays in HistoryLink databases. Census data through 1960 are taken from University of Virginia Geospatial and Statistical Data Center, United States Historical Census Data Browser Online, 1998, University of Virginia (http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/census/), accessed March 6, 2003.

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A soldier at Fort Lawton, ca. 1910
ŠAnthony Powell, used with permission

Charles Hamilton flying first airplane in Washington, The Meadows Race Track, Georgetown, 1910
Courtesy MOHAI

Test road built by Sam Hill near Maryhill, Klickitat County, 1913
Photo by Asahel Curtis, Courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg. CUR1004)

Women posting signs to promote woman suffrage, Seattle, 1910
Courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg. A. Curtis 19943)

Smith Tower (Gaggin and Gaggin, 1914), under construction, Seattle, ca. 1913

An anonymous player for the Black Diamond baseball team, ca. 1915
Courtesy David Eskenazi Collection

Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse, November 7, 1940
Courtesy WSDOT

Henry "Scoop" Jackson (1912-1983) and Warren G. "Maggie" Magnuson (1905-1989), February 17, 1969
Courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg. UW19599)

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