December 19, 2013 - December 25, 2013
One hundred and ten years ago this week, on December 21, 1903, Granite Falls officially became a town, two weeks after voters agreed to incorporate. Settled in 1883, the community blossomed in 1889 after gold was discovered in nearby Monte Cristo. Even though the boom didn't last long, it allowed Granite Falls to become very well established.
The lumber industry gave the town a further boost, but it wasn't until the advent of the auto age that Granite Falls found a new calling as a gateway to recreation. When the Granite Falls Bridge opened in 1934, it paved the way for further construction on the Mountain Loop Highway, which linked Granite Falls to Darrington.
Nestled in the mountains, the town also attracted those seeking to get away from it all. Kenneth Callahan -- along with his wife Margaret -- enjoyed the use of a studio cabin along the nearby Stillaguamish River, as did Neil Meitzler, who lived nearby and enjoyed painting waterfalls. Today, Granite Falls maintains its idyllic status as a bedroom community, close enough to commute to Everett and Seattle, but remote enough to stay in tune with nature.
On December 19, 1898, the Skagit County towns of Sedro and Woolley merged after almost a decade of rivalry. Sedro began as a coal town and incorporated in 1891, right around the time railroad developer Phillip A. Woolley platted his own namesake company town right next door. Even after the merger, some of the residents sought to maintain each half's individual identity.
Over the years, Sedro-Woolley has been home to some of the more sensational and notorious events in Washington history. In 1911, outlaw Mike Donnelly was arrested there after the murder of a Whatcom County justice of the peace. Three years later, armed bank robbers shot up the town in a 15-minute barrage of bullets. In 1922, townsfolk went on the run from -- of all things -- a rampaging elephant, and in 1954, Sedro-Woolley residents were some of the first to encounter a strange phenomenon that spread throughout the region.
News Then, History Now
Christmas Day: On December 25, 1845, Esther Clark Short and her family became the first permanent American settlers near Fort Vancouver. Exactly 19 years later, in 1864, Job Carr arrived at the future site of Tacoma. Seattle's pioneers enjoyed a very humble Christmas in 1851, and delegates from the Suquamish Tribe celebrated a very special Christmas at Tulalip on December 25, 1876.
Double Play: On December 22, 1852, the Oregon Territorial Legislature created both King County and Pierce County. And on December 23, 1925, the Washington State Legislature changed the name of Clarke County to Clark County, fixing a spelling error that had been on the books since 1854.
On the Bay: On December 21, 1891, crowds swarmed along the Everett waterfront hoping to get a close-up view of the uniquely shaped whaleback freighter Charles W. Wetmore. Exactly 26 years later, folks in Seattle were more apprehensive when the Russian steamer Shilka steamed into Elliott Bay, just weeks after the Bolshevik Revolution.
Washed Away: On December 23, 1918, the residents of Edgewick, a small logging community along Boxley Creek below Cedar Falls, lost everything they owned when a dam burst in the Cedar River watershed and sent a wall of water crashing through their town. Miraculously, no lives were lost in what became known as the Boxley Burst. Survivors sardonically renamed the stream Christmas Creek.
All the Rage: On December 19, 1920, in Carnation, Segis Pietertje Prospect (better known as Possum Sweetheart) broke the world record for milk production. Over the previous year, the contented cow produced 37,361 pounds of milk, nearly nine times the average amount. In other, less triumphant, bovine history, this week marks the 10th anniversary of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, which was discovered in a Mabton dairy cow on December 23, 2003.
On the Stage: Eight years ago this week, Seattle theatergoers enjoyed a memorable Christmas Day performance by Katherine Cornell and company at the Metropolitan Theatre. The troupe -- which included a young Orson Welles -- was delayed by bad weather, but raised the curtain and took to the stage in the wee hours of the morning.
To Your Health!: Group Health incorporated on December 22, 1945, and a few months later received a welcome shot in the arm at a health-care forum in Kirkland. From this chance encounter, the nascent cooperative took over a successful Seattle clinic and hospital and on January 1, 1947, began treating patients.
Quote of the Week
For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot.
--Robert Louis Stevenson
Image of the Week
Yakima's electric trolleys began operating on Christmas Day, 1907.