Cougar wanders into downtown Seattle and creates excitement on September 20, 1890.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 2/26/1999
  • Essay 949
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On September 20, 1890 at about 9:30 a.m., a cougar wanders into downtown Seattle on Pine Street between 4th and 5th avenues and "for a few minutes owned the street."

William D. Wood, a real estate dealer who had done much to develop the Green Lake area, was the first to spot the animal. The cougar bounded across the yard of the European House at 1523 6th Avenue near Pine Street and crossed to the east side of 6th Avenue. The creature leapt into the rear window of the Kentucky stable (NE corner of 6th Avenue and Pine Street).

An employee heard the stabled horses create quite a disturbance and came down from the second floor. When he spotted the cougar, he made a "hasty retreat." As the cougar exited through a window, the stable owner, Robert Bishop, shot the mammal in the rump.

"The wound enraged the animal and it uttered a terrific yell as it bounded to the sidewalk and rushed down Sixth Street [actually Avenue]. The few passers-by scattered in terror, the women relieving themselves with piercing screams. ... The panic spread to the thronged thoroughfare [on] Pike Street and all pedestrians made a rush for safety. With two great bounds the cougar landed in the yard of Dr. F[rantz] H. Coe's residence, 606 Pike Street. A group of children who were playing on the porch were transfixed with terror at the sight of the monster, but he [the cougar] paid no attention to them."

Eugene Chapin, who owned and lived at his new and secondhand-goods store at 601 Pike Street, crossed the street holding a 44-caliber revolver. Chapin fired two shots that brought down the animal and two more shots that "ended his career." The only other fatality was a chicken the cougar killed in the Kentucky stables. The cougar was about eight feet long and weighed 160 pounds.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 21, 1890, p. 8.

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