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.
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This Week Then
A Secret Unveiled
Seventy-five years ago this week, on August 6, 1945, a Boeing B-29 named the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, killing tens of thousands of people and vaporizing an area of four square miles. Three days later another B-29 detonated a similar device over Nagasaki, and Richland residents finally learned the truth about what they were producing -- key atom-bomb components, including the plutonium used in the Nagasaki bomb, came from Hanford.
In a very short time, tens of thousands of workers built more than 500 structures, including three reactors, chemical-separation buildings, fuel- fabrication facilities, laboratories, offices, and underground high-level-waste storage tanks. They constructed 386 miles of automobile road, 158 miles of railroad, 50 miles of power lines and four substations, and hundreds of miles of fencing. A "government city" was built to house 17,500 people, most of whom had no idea exactly what it was they were building until the bombs fell in Japan, bringing an end to World War II within days.
After the war Richland continued to boom as the Cold War heated up. By 1950 the city's population had mushroomed to almost 22,000, but the federal city was still not independent. It wasn't until 1958 that residents voted to incorporate as a first-class city. The community has since diversified into a variety of other industries, while the Hanford site has been designated as part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, along with facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Tear-gassed and Jailed
History may not exactly repeat itself, but sometimes it echoes. This week in 1969, violence erupted in the streets of Seattle with a string of skirmishes between young people and the police. The troubles began on August 10 at Alki Beach, where thousands had gathered for a long-planned concert. As the final band took to the stage, police began restraining spectators who were drinking in public, and things escalated quickly from there. A police car was firebombed and teargas was used to quell the crowds, who fought back with fists and rocks. The area was eventually cordoned off and six partygoers were arrested.
The rest of the crowd returned to their homes, but tensions were still running high the next day. That evening another clash broke out between young people and the police. This time it was in the University District, but ended soon after TV crews arrived. Two days later a community meeting was held to discuss police harassment, but when attendees left the gathering, they found the streets filled with hundreds of teenagers, many of whom just came to the Ave looking for trouble. After some of them looted a store and started trashcan fires, the police arrived in full riot gear and a battle ensued that lasted until the early hours of the morning.
The next day, business owners and community leaders begged police to block off the Ave and allow local volunteers to patrol their own neighborhood, but the police said they had the situation under control and needed no help from amateurs. That night another riot erupted, and the streets were overrun with crowds of teens trying to avoid truncheons and gas grenades. Order, if it could be called that, was restored by 1 a.m.
At this point the city was considering a curfew and asking Governor Dan Evans to call in the National Guard, but a delegation from the University District -- led by attorney and civic leader Cal McCune -- finally convinced the acting mayor, Floyd Miller, to let the community try to handle the situation. Over the next few days, scores of volunteers wearing "peace" armbands cooled hot tempers, while the police remained parked out of sight. The goal of self-pacification proved successful and led to the creation of Seattle's first Street Fair the following year.
On August 8, 1932, swimmer Helene Madison won the first of three gold medals at that year's Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. And on August 9, 1936, Lee Orr of Monroe placed fifth in the 200-meter dash at the Berlin Olympics.
Beloved cowboy humorist Will Rogers played his last game of polo in Lake City on August 6, 1935, before departing Boeing Field on a fatal flight to Alaska with pilot Wiley Post. Three years later, Everett doctor Harmon Rhoads Jr. began a more successful voyage when he left Boeing Field on August 7, 1938, as member of a noted Antarctic expedition.
On August 8, 1967, the Joffrey Ballet inaugurated its first Tacoma residency with a sold-out performance at Pacific Lutheran University. Robert Joffrey was born in Seattle and cofounded the ballet company with Gerald Arpino, whom he met in 1945 when Arpino was stationed in Seattle in the Coast Guard.
On August 6, 1990 -- the 45th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing -- dedication ceremonies were held for the Seattle Peace Park near the University of Washington. Conceived by Quaker peace activist Floyd Schmoe, the park features a statue of Sadako Sasaki, who died at age 12 of leukemia caused by the atomic bombing, holding a folded paper crane. Since its installation, the statue has been continuously graced by colorful strings of paper cranes placed there by visitors.