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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.

This Week Then


News Then, History Now

Here by Invitation

On May 16, 1864, a ship carrying 11 young women under the escort of Asa Shinn Mercer arrived in Seattle from New England. This first of two contingents of Mercer Girls had an instant impact on Seattle's mostly male frontier culture, and included the town's first public school teacher. It would later inspire the TV series Here Come the Brides. Asa Mercer is remembered these days too, appropriately enough, with a Seattle middle school named in his honor.

Closer Examination

One hundred and fifty years ago this week, on May 11, 1873, James Glover arrived at Spokane Falls in search of investment opportunities. Over time, he became "the father of Spokane" by popular acclaim, but is now viewed as exploitative, dismissive of the region's Indigenous people, and particularly cruel to his first wife, Susan, who was institutionalized for the final 22 years of her life and scrubbed from Glover's memoirs. 

Tusko's Ambulation

On May 15, 1922, Sedro Woolley residents were stunned to find an elephant rampaging through their small Skagit County community. On tour with a traveling circus, Tusko the elephant got loose, causing all sorts of mayhem before his capture. Years later, when a sideshow huckster brought Tusko to Seattle, Mayor John Dore was outraged at the animal's treatment, and confiscated him. The pachyderm spent a few peaceful months at Woodland Park Zoo before passing away in 1933.

Rocking Out

On May 11, 1969, Led Zeppelin rocked out at Seattle's Green Lake Aqua Theatre. It was one of the last concerts held at the venue before it was dismantled. This week also marks the anniversary of the first ever Northwest rock 'n' roll reunion concert, held at Seattle's Paramount Theatre on May 14, 1972, and featuring the likes of the Wailers, Frantics, Kingsmen, Viceroys, Sonics, the Dave Lewis Trio, and many more.

Moving In

On May 13, 1977, Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center opened its doors in Discovery Park in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. Founded by Native American leader Bernie Whitebear, with the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation as its parent organization, the Daybreak Star Center serves as an urban base for Native Americans in the Seattle Area.

Starting Up

In 1890, Aberdeen and Shelton incorporated days apart, on May 12 and May 17 respectively. And on May 14, 1915, the town of Oak Harbor incorporated. A month later, local residents celebrated with a livestock parade, a baking exhibition, and a talent show.

Today in
Washington History

Image of the Week

Fifty years ago this week, on May 11, 1973, Bill Russell was hired as the coach of the Seattle SuperSonics.

Quote of the Week

"On the Black Ball ferry line up in Seattle
Every single GOP and Democrat'll
Hear those whistles blow and the bells go
As the ferry boats are chuggin' right along."

–Bing Crosby, "The Black Ball Ferry Line"

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