April 10, 2014 - April 16, 2014
Eggs is Eggs
Easter is approaching, and this week HistoryLink boils up some of Washington's egg-related history for you to discover. In the 1800s, many Northwest farmers raised small broods of chickens, but the state's poultry industry didn't really flourish until better husbandry practices were introduced near the turn of the century. Soon afterward, poultry farms hatched throughout the state, and raising chickens -- either for eggs or meat -- became a good way for many folks to make a living.
In 1931, more than 7,200 eggs were used to create the world's largest omelet in Chehalis. The colossal concoction was prepared in a specially made eight-foot-wide frying pan, greased beforehand by a young woman wearing slabs of bacon on her feet. The event provided some light-hearted publicity for local chicken farmers during the dark days of the Great Depression.
In 1945, Washington received worldwide attention following the publication of The Egg and I, a runaway bestseller by Betty MacDonald that regaled readers with her exploits as a young bride on a Chimacum Valley chicken ranch. The book was later made into a successful film and has been reprinted in more than 32 languages.
Most likely, you've enjoyed Washington eggs for breakfast or for baking, and while some people have had fun at summer picnic egg tosses, others have used eggs to express criticism. But at Easter, egg-painting is a family favorite, and if you're feeling creative we hope that you will colorize some locally-produced cackleberries.
Spring has Sprung
In 1863, the first dike was built in Skagit County, and after the Skagit River was cleared of logjams the surrounding area was transformed into rich farmland. Over the month of April, hundreds of thousands of people will stream to this idyllic setting for the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, now in its 30th year.
Over the years Skagit County has attracted a variety of people, including socialists at Equality Colony and boat builders on the Swinomish Channel. Skagit elder Vi Hilbert was born in Lyman, and writer Tom Robbins has lived for years in La Conner, which also counted painters Guy Anderson and Morris Graves as residents. And although the county's environment is quite beautiful, apparently it is not pleasing to elephants.
News Then, History Now
Mob Brutality: On April 12, 1854, an angry crowd hanged two Snohomish Indians in Seattle after Sheriff Carson Boren was able to save one other man from the gallows. One of the mob's ringleaders was Luther Collins, a Seattle pioneer and one of King County's first commissioners. Collins had participated in lynching a Native American the previous year.
New Locality: On April 15, 1854, the Washington Territorial Legislature created Sawamish County out of Thurston County. Named for the tribe of Native Americans who lived along the bays and inlets of southern Puget Sound, it was later renamed Mason County after Charles H. Mason, Washington Territory's first secretary of state.
Lincoln's Demise: Less than a week after the Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, a telegram arrived in Olympia with the tragic news that President Lincoln had died from an assassin's bullet. The telegram also noted that Secretary of State William H. Seward had been stabbed while at home (which was true) and had also succumbed to his wounds (which was false). Seward survived the stabbing, and is best remembered for advocating the purchase of Alaska, which the U. S. Senate ratified on April 9, 1867.
Bremerton's Prize: On April 11, 1897, the U.S.S. Oregon became the first in a long line of battleships to dock at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. Nearly a century later, on April 12, 1992, the shipyard welcomed home the U.S.S. Missouri for deactivation and storage, but the historic vessel didn't stay long.
Boarding Pass: The sinking of the Titanic on the night of April 14-15, 1912, sent ripples as far away as Puget Sound. Six Washingtonians went down with the "unsinkable" ocean liner, including filmmaker William Harbeck, who had filmed such historic events as the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and Washington's first airplane flight. Harbeck's body was recovered, but his motion pictures have disappeared from view.
Raise a Glass: Eighty years ago this week, on April 15, 1934, the Blue Moon Tavern opened its doors for the first time to thirsty taxpayers and other denizens of the Seattle's University District. Over the years the unofficial cultural landmark has hosted such illustrious characters as Theodore Roethke, Richard Hugo, Richard Gilkey, Alex Edelstein, Stanford Poll, Patrick McRoberts, and Walt Crowley.
Up and Down: On April 15, 1952, Boeing achieved new heights with the launch of the B-52 Stratofortress. Sadly, this day in aviation history was overshadowed by a U.S. Air Force B-36 Peacemaker crash at Spokane's Fairchild Air Force Base, which killed 15 airmen.
Talk of the Town: Sixty years ago this week, panic reached a fever pitch throughout the region after mysterious windshield pits began appearing on cars from Bellingham to Seattle. Concerned citizens, blaming the phenomenon on everything from H-bomb tests to UFOs, looked for answers and assistance all the way up to President Eisenhower. In the end, the truth was right in front of their eyes.
Quote of the Week
An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow.
Image of the Week
Spokane's streetcar era began on April 15, 1888.