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Topic: Calamities

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Carlton Complex Fire

The 2014 Carlton Complex fire, the largest single wildfire in Washington history, burned 256,108 acres, destroyed 353 homes, and caused an estimated $98 million in damage. The fire caused no direct fa...

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Dorothea Nordstrand Remembers a 1920 Seattle Streetcar Accident and Hard Times

In this People's History, Dorothea (Pfister) Nordstrand (1916-2011) recalls the time her father, riding from the Green Lake neighborhood to downtown Seattle to look for work on January 5, 1920, was in...

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Elementary Level: Mount St. Helens Erupts

Mount St. Helens once was the fifth-highest mountain in Washington. Now, because of a huge eruption on May 18, 1980, it is only the 30th highest peak in the state. There were many signs that the mount...

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Elementary Level: The Great Fire of Seattle

Early buildings in what is now the state of Washington were mostly constructed of wood. There were no organized fire departments and not much water that could be used in the event of fire. Seattle's d...

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Finding William Hamilton: A Transatlantic Detective Story

Michael Atkins relays the story of William Hamilton, an Irishman who came to Seattle in 1909. One of Hamilton's grand nieces in Ireland posted a query on a usenet group on the internet. Intrigued, Atk...

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Flu in Washington: The 1918 "Spanish Flu" Pandemic

The misnamed "Spanish Flu" pandemic peaked in late 1918 and remains the most widespread and lethal outbreak of disease to afflict humankind worldwide in recorded history. Small mutations in a flu viru...

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Franklin Mine disaster (August 24, 1894): A Compilation of Contemporary Sources

This People's History consists of contemporary newspaper accounts of the Franklin Mine Disaster of August 24,1894, and portions of the investigative report by the official state mines inspector. With ...

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Graveyard of the Pacific: Shipwrecks on the Washington Coast

The stretch of coast between Tillamook Bay in Oregon and Vancouver Island, encompassing the mouth of the Columbia River and the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, has claimed since 1800 more than...

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John D. Parker recalls the 1921 explosion of the Hitt's Fireworks factory in the Rainier Valley.

In 1999, 90-year old John Parker of Port Ludlow penned this account of the 1921 explosion of the Hitt's Fireworks factory in the Rainier Valley. One woman working at the plant was killed.

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Lawson Mine Disaster (November 6, 1910): Official Investigative Reports

Sixteen men, all foreign-born, were killed on November 6, 1910, in an explosion at the Lawson Coal Mine in Black Diamond in east King County. The following is excerpted from the "State Inspector of Co...

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Morgan Slope Mine Disaster (April 26, 1907): Official Investigative Report

Seven men were killed and six seriously injured on April 26,1907, in an explosion at the Pacific Coast Company's coal mine at Morgan Slope in Black Diamond in east King County. The following is the in...

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Now & Then -- Seattle's Great Fire of 1889

This file contains Seattle historian and photographer Paul Dorpat's Now & Then photographs and reflections on Seattle's Great Fire of 1889.

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Panic of 1893 and Its Aftermath

Less than four years after Washington Territory achieved statehood, what was known as America's "Gilded Age" came to an agonizing end when the nation was struck by the worst economic crisis it had yet...

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Roslyn Mine disaster (October 3, 1909): The Official Investigative Report of the Washington State Inspector of Coal Mines

This People's History presents the full official investigative report prepared by the state Inspector of Coal Mines after an explosion at the Roslyn Mine on October 3, 1909, claimed the lives of 10 mi...

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Seattle's Great Fire

On June 6, 1889, a fire started from an upset glue pot in a carpentry shop located in the basement of a downtown Seattle building and spread to consume Seattle's entire business district. The Great Fi...

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Smallpox Epidemic of 1862 among Northwest Coast and Puget Sound Indians

This essay describes the 1862 smallpox epidemic among Northwest Coast tribes. It was carried from San Francisco on the steamship Brother Jonathan and arrived at Victoria, British Columbia, on Mar...

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Speakeasy Fire: An Eyewitness Account of the fire on May 18, 2001

Two members of HistoryLink's staff, Alyssa Burrows and Chris Goodman, happened to be at the Speakeasy Cafe the night it burned down. This is Alyssa'a first-hand account of the confused scene as the bu...

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Spokane's Great Fire

Most of downtown Spokane (then known as Spokane Falls) was destroyed by fire on August 4, 1889. The conflagration broke out in an area of flimsy wooden structures and quickly spread to engulf the subs...

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The Spanish Flu in Spokane

Kenneth Knoll was 12 years old when the influenza epidemic came to Spokane. This catastrophic event so impressed him that he felt compelled to describe it 70 years later. His essay is based mainly on ...

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Valencia, SS, the Wreck of (1906)

On Monday, January 22, 1906, the coastal passenger liner SS Valencia, en route from San Francisco to Seattle with 108 passengers and 65 crew aboard, passed the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca i...

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Washington Forest Fires: A Tour

This is a tour of major forest fires in Washington state history. Written and curated by David Wilma. Map by Marie McCaffrey.

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