May 26, 2016 – June 1, 2016
Shooting the Falls
Ninety years ago this week, on May 30, 1926, thousands of people gathered at Sunset Falls near Index to watch daredevil Al Faussett ride his homemade dugout canoe down the 104-foot drop. Faussett sold tickets to the event, but many snuck in without paying the one-dollar admission. Some placed bets on whether or not he would survive. He did, even though his canoe became airborne at one point before slipping behind a curtain of spray. He emerged from the mist and finished his run to the roar of excited applause.
Faussett worked as a logger for 20 years before seeking fame and fortune as a stuntman. In the three years following his Sunset Falls plunge he went over six other falls in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, including Eagle Falls on the Skykomish River and Spokane Falls, where he was injured when caught in a whirlpool after making it through the first of two drops. In 1929 Faussett moved to Hollywood, but when the Great Depression struck people stopped paying to see daredevils like him, especially when they could watch flagpole sitters, bridgedivers, and endurance dancers for much less, and often for free.
In 1934 Faussett moved to Portland, Oregon, where he remained for the rest of his life. Although his dreams of becoming rich eluded him, he was apparently quite satisfied with the fame he had achieved and often regaled total strangers with stories of his past triumphs. Faussett died in 1948 at the age of 68, with a bit of showmanship still in him -- up until his death he was building a boat that he hoped to ride over Niagara Falls.
Saluting the Fallen
On Memorial Day the nation pauses to recall and thank the men and women who fought to defend the United States in wartime. HistoryLink.org is proud to host the complete online honor rolls of Washington state citizens who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Philippines, World War I, World War II (including merchant mariners), Korea, Vietnam, Granada, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
We also maintain online honor rolls of University of Washington students, faculty, and staff killed in World War II and public-safety officers statewide who died in the line of duty. We want to thank Garden of Remembrance co-organizer Dave Barber for helping us to maintain this tribute. And let us not forget the memorial's founding spirit and primary sponsor, the late Patsy Bullitt Collins, who suffered her own loss during World War II.
News Then, History Now
Tribal Woe: In an effort to peacefully dispossess Eastern Washington tribes of their land, Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens convened the First Walla Walla Council on May 29, 1855. It didn't work out quite as planned.
Three in a Row: On May 28, 1890, Kent became the second city to incorporate in King County, preceded only by Seattle. Other cities celebrating a birthday this week include Ephrata, which incorporated in Grant County on June 1, 1909, and Pomeroy, which incorporated in Garfield County on May 28, 1917.
Dangerous Flow: On May 27, 1894, a flash flood on the north fork of Salmon Creek destroyed much of Conconully. On May 30, 1948, the Vanport Flood -- so named for the town it washed away just north of Portland, Oregon -- began. The floodwaters along the Columbia River extended as far east as Kennewick and Richland, and by the time they finally receded had killed at least 50 people and caused about $102 million in damage.
Helping Crops Grow: On May 27, 1905, the Burlingame Gardena irrigation ditch was completed in the Walla Walla Valley, bringing much needed water to local farmers and supplementing the Old Lowden Ditch, which had been dug years earlier. In the 1830s Marcus Whitman was the first person to bring irrigation water to the valley, but his efforts died with him in the 1847 attack that became known as the Whitman Massacre.
Quite a Tableau: Exactly two years after its groundbreaking ceremony, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition opened on June 1, 1909. Some out-of-town visitors stayed at the Sorrento Hotel, which had opened two days earlier. Others enjoyed a nice drive to the fair along the newly completed University Boulevard.
Crash and Blow: Seattle's first aviation disaster occurred on May 29, 1912, at the Meadows Race Track when an airplane crashed into the grandstand, killing one and injuring 21 others. Three years later, on May 30, 1915, a barge filled with 622 tons of gunpowder exploded in Elliott Bay, for reasons never explained. The concussion shattered or cracked nearly 500 windows throughout the city.
On the Go: After World War II ended, more than a few Puget Sound commuters became frustrated with the fare increases and foibles of the state's privately run ferry system. Because the maritime commute was integral to the state's transportation network, pressure was put on politicians to solve the crisis. After much political wrangling the state bought out the ferry company and on June 1, 1951, cross-sound travelers greeted the newly created Washington State Ferry system.
Quote of the Week
The riches of the game are in the thrills, not the money.
Image of the Week
The Nuclear Reactor Building on the University of Washington campus in Seattle was dedicated on June 1, 1961.