This Month in Cascadian History: August

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By Alex DeVeiteo

August 1, 1988 – Deep Rover, a single occupant research submarine designed by marine engineer Graham Hawkes and built by Deep Ocean Engineering, is unveiled at Crater Lake, Oregon

August 2, 1970 – BC ferry Queen of Victoria and Soviet freighter Sergey Yesinen collide in the Active Pass.

August 3, 1885 – The first Chautauqua on Puget Sound is held at Dilworth Point on Vashon Island. Named after Chautauqua, New York, where it was founded in 1874, the movement is a summertime presentation of lectures, discussions, and cultural activities lasting several days to a week in a resort atmosphere.

August 4, 1889 – “The Great Fire” breaks out shortly after 6:00 p.m. in the city of Spokane Falls, destroying the city’s downtown commercial district. Due to technical problems with a pump station, there is no water pressure in the city when the fire starts.  In an effort to starve the fire, firefighters begin demolishing buildings with dynamite. Eventually winds die down and the fire exhausts of its own accord. 32 blocks of the city’s downtown are destroyed, but only one person is killed. While the damage caused by the fire is a devastating blow, it sets the stage for a dramatic building boom, and the city is reincorporated under its modern name of “Spokane.”

August 5, 1990 – The Seattle Goodwill Games conclude. Two world records are broken during the Games: the 200-meter breaststroke mark is topped by all three medalists in the race, with Mike Barrowman improving the record to two minutes and 11.53 seconds. Nadezhda Ryashkina completes a world record of 41:56.21 in the women’s 10 km race walk.

August 6, 1969 – A member of America’s Blue Angels aerobatic team practicing a routine for the Regatta festival inadvertently causes chaos in nearby city of Kelowna, British Columbia. The pilot unintentionally goes through the sound barrier while flying too low, creating a sonic boom which shatters glass, injuring six people and generating a broken glass bill of a quarter million dollars.

August 7, 1971 – The Gastown Riot, also known as “The Battle of Maple Tree Square,” occurs in Vancouver, British Columbia. Following weeks of arrests by undercover drug squad members in Vancouver as part of a special police operation directed by Mayor Tom Campbell known as “Operation Dustpan,” designed to sweep up the “hippie problem” in Vancouver’s trendy Gastown district, police attack a peaceful protest Smoke-In in the Gastown neighborhood organized by the Youth International Party and local merchants against the use of undercover agents and in favor of the legalization of marijuana. The Vancouver police are quickly accused of heavy-handed tactics including indiscriminate beatings with their newly issued riot batons and using horseback charges on crowds of onlookers and tourists. Of the 1200 protesters, 79 are arrested and 38 are charged with various infractions, while more than a dozen are sent to the hospital.

August 8, 1971 – The Enchanted Forest‘s Storybook Trail first opens to the public at 2pm on Sunday. Roger Tofte, a draftsman and artist for the Oregon State Highway Department, builds the park on 20 acres of land off Interstate 5 south of Salem he had purchased for $4000. Despite no formal art training and little cement work experience, he gets to work and builds the fanciful theme park. Rides and features have been added frequently the past four decades; the Enchanted Forest is still run by the Tofte family.

August 9, 1878 – Due to delays and broken promises of a railway to British Columbia, the legislature in Victoria votes nineteen to nine in favor of succession from Canada. This gives impetus to financing of the Canadian Pacific Railway and Imperial loan guarantees.

August 10, 1979 – Screenwriter, film producer, and novelist Ted J. Geoghegan is born in Beaverton, Oregon. He is best known for his work in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres.

August 11, 1774 – Spanish Explorer Juan Perez and his crew on the ship Santiago sight The Olympic Mountains (originally called “Sun-a-do” by the Duwamish) on the Olympic Peninsula, naming them “Cerro Nevada de Santa Rosalia.” Juan Perez’s Spanish expedition represents the first European discovery and exploration of “Nueva Galicia,” the Pacific Northwest.

August 12, 1963 – Hip Hop artist Anthony Ray, better known as “Sir Mix-a-Lot,” is born in Seattle, Washington.

August 13, 1895 – Author Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, gives a 90-minute solo performance to an audience of 1,200 at the Seattle Theater, located downtown at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street in Seattle, Washington. “A CONTINUOUS LAUGH” is the headline of a Seattle Post-Intelligencer review article that continues, “To tell the story of such a lecture is like trying to narrate a laugh. Those who heard it enjoyed it, and those who did not cannot conceive of it.”

August 14, 1933 – A logging operation located on the slopes above the North Fork of Gales Creek, west of the town of Forest Grove, Oregon sparks a massive forest fire known as the Tillamook Burn in the Coast Range Mountains, located in northern Oregon, 50 miles west of Portland. The fire begins around noon, started by friction produced when loggers drag a large Douglas-fir log across the dry bark of a wind-fallen snag, igniting a large amount of logging debris in the area. Weather conditions help ignite and spread the blaze; within an hour, the fire destroys 60 acres of the surrounding land. The wildfire that grows out of this will burn 311,000 acres (1259 km²) of forest before it is extinguished by seasonal rains.

August 15, 1929 – Renowned stunt flyer, and military and commercial aviator, Nicholas Bernard “Nick” Mamer,  and his mechanic and copilot, Art Walker, take off from Spokane’s Felts Field in their latest model Buhl “Sesquiplane” on a history-making feat of endurance flying. The two men stay aloft five days and nights, and despite not breaking the existing record of hours in the air, they succeed in setting a record in nonstop mileage (more than 7,200 miles) and achieve the first transcontinental refueling flight, first night refueling, and first refueling at an altitude above 8,000 feet.

August 16, 2003 – Workers building a graving dock for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) near Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, Washington uncover a shell midden. Discovery of the refuse pile, and, shortly thereafter, many human remains and artifacts, reveals the largely intact Klallam First Nation village of Tse-whit-zen under layers of industrial rubble and fill. Tse-whit-zen, which occupies the Port Angeles site for at least 2,700 years until supplanted by industrial development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, turns out to be one of the largest and most significant archeological sites in Washington, providing important insights into Klallam life before and at the time of first contact with Europeans.

August 17, 1907 – Pike Place Market is opened overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington. It will become one of the oldest continually operating public farmers’ markets in North America, and remains one of Seattle’s most popular tourist destinations.

August 18, 1775 – While cruising along the Oregon coast south of Arch Cape, Basque explorer Captain Bruno de Heceta discovers and names Cape Falcon, also known as False Tillamook Head.

August 19, 1902 – A Doukhobor sect known as “The Sons of Freedom” responds to conflicts with Canadian policy by staging mass nude protest parades and engaging in arson across British Columbia as a means of protesting against materialism, land seizure by the government, and compulsory education in government schools. This will lead to many confrontations with the Canadian government and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police well into the 1970s.

August 20, 1881 – The Spring Hill Water Company is incorporated in Seattle. This privately owned water system is Seattle’s first integrated distribution system, and later will play an integral role in the creation of the municipal water system.

August 21, 1922 – Motorists in British Columbia switch to driving on the right hand side of the road at midnight.

August 22, 1964 – The Beatles hold a concert at Empire Stadium in Vancouver, B.C. before 20,000 fans, playing songs from their newest album, “Something New.” The event is hosted by DJ Red Robinson, with a top ticket price of $5.25. Vancouver police cut the concert short after 27 minutes, fearing a riot by fans.

August 23, 1970 – A lightning storm starts over 200 fires in the Wenatchee National Forest which merge into five fires named Gold Ridge, Entiat, Mitchell Creek, Shady Pass, and Slide Ridge, though they are collectively called the Entiat Burn. The fires burn for 15 days, consuming 122,000 acres and threatening the town of Ardenvoir, Washington before they are contained and rain begins to put them out.

August 24, 1852 – Fur-trader and colonial governor James Douglas founds the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, and takes possession of local coal deposits for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

August 25, 1917 – The American Theater in Walla Walla opens for business with the Norma Talmadge film “The Law of Compensation”. The theater was originally conceived by A. W. Eiler, who chose a very unique design scheme. In an era when Chinese, Egyptian, Arabian, or other exotic motifs tended to dominate theater design, the exterior of the American was based on traditional Dutch architecture. Standing three stories tall on Walla Walla’s E Main Street, on the very spot upon which Fort Walla Walla had stood in 1858. The theater boasts a seating capacity of 1,000, with each seat made of mahogany and Spanish leather.  Patron amenities include a nursery, smoking room, and checking room for coats and packages.

August 26, 1805 – Captain Meriwether Lewis and the main party of the Lewis and Clark Expedition cross the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass, leaving the newly purchased United States territory into the disputed Oregon Country.

August 27, 1914 – Fire destroys 17 buildings and 20 stores in downtown Shelton, Washington. Shelton’s Mayor, Mark Reed, is in Seattle on business when he heard of the fire, and drives the 100 miles of mostly unpaved roads back to Shelton in just under three hours. Reed, who is also head of Simpson Timber, the county’s largest employer, tries to put a positive spin on the situation, using the disaster as an opportunity to rebuild the downtown area.

August 28, 1963 – The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge (also known as the “520 bridge”) connecting Seattle & Bellevue officially opens. At 7,500 feet (2,300 m) long and running across Lake Washington from Seattle to Medina, it is the longest floating bridge on Earth.

August 29, 1968 – The Canadian government in Ottawa cancels support for the observatory under construction on Mt. Kobau, near Osoyoos, British Columbia.

August 30, 1935 – A dance marathon/walkathon closes in Fife, a community just north of Tacoma, after 1,376 hours (55 days or almost two months). The event is popular with citizens of nearby Seattle and Tacoma, both of which have city ordinances banning dance endurance contests. Attendees pay 15 to 25 cents to watch a mixture of hopeful amateurs and professional dance marathoners compete for prize money. Contestants dance around the clock with 15 minutes off their feet each hour. They were fed, standing at a chest-high table, 12 times per day.

August 31, 1912 – The Bellingham & Skagit Railway’s Interurban railroad line opens between Bellingham and Mount Vernon, as well as Burlington and Sedro Woolley, with passenger trips to every two hours during the day and freight operating at night.


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