The free online encyclopedia of Washington state history

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Diablo Dam incline railway climbing Sourdough Mountain, 1930. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 2306.
Children waving to ferry, 1950. Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.
Loggers in the Northwest woods. Courtesy Washington State Digital Archives.

 Check Out Our New Podcast!

HistoryLink has created a podcast – Square One, a companion piece to the self-guided walking tour of Pioneer Square's historic LGBTQ+ community on HistoryLink.Tours.

Join host Rosette Royale as he explores the LGBTQ+ history of Pioneer Square, and hear from people who lived this history firsthand and those who want to preserve it.

Find the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast serviceA video version is available on HistoryLink's Vimeo channel.

Our thanks to Historic South Downtown for their generous support of the tour and podcast.

This Week Then


News Then, History Now

Addled Conditions

On December 11, 1851, the ship's cook deliberately torched the schooner Robert Bruce after dosing the crew with laudanum. A Willapa Bay logger and his Indian helpers rescued the oystermen aboard and brought them ashore. They later settled what became Bruceport. Today, the Willapa Light Station guides the way for any other mariners who have been led astray.

Welcome Additions

On December 13, 1905, Walla Walla residents attended the dedication ceremonies for their brand new, Carnegie-funded library. Two years later, the townsfolk gathered again, on December 12, 1907, this time at the Keylor Grand Theater to see the Walla Walla Symphony Orchestra's first concert.

Yuletide Traditions

On December 13, 1949, Bellingham lit the world's tallest Christmas tree , but was bested by Seattle's Northgate Shopping Center a year later. And on December 13, 1983, the Pacific Northwest Ballet premiered a production of Nutcracker, with sets and costumes designed by Maurice Sendak.

Blown Away

On December 12, 1969, a category F3 tornado struck southern King County, damaging buildings but causing only one injury. Far worse was the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm that ravaged Western Washington beginning on December 14, 2006. Fourteen people died from the effects of the storm, and millions of state residents lost electric power.

Enjoy the Play

Fifty years ago this week, on December 13, 1972, the Intiman Theatre launched its debut season in Kirkland with a performance of Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm. In 1987, the theater moved to its current home at Seattle Center, where audiences have seen many award–winning plays.

Whistalks Way

On December 14, 2020, the Spokane City Council unanimously voted to change the name of Fort George Wright Drive in west Spokane to Whistalks Way. In 1858, Wright led U.S. Army troops in a scorched-earth campaign of revenge that killed 800 Native-owned horses and caused the deaths of people from several tribes. One woman who survived was Whist-alks, a Spokane warrior.

Today in
Washington History

New On HistoryLink

Image of the Week

The first confirmed Asian Giant “Murder Hornet” discovered in the United States was found in Blaine on December 8, 2019.

Quote of the Week

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

--Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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