This Week in Cascadia is a weekly segment. You can view all Weeks in Cascadia history from its main page here.
May 13, 1872 – The Marshall & CO’s Great Tycoon Troupe of Japanese performs to record crowds at the Pavilion in Seattle, Washington. The troupe of eight men and two
women includes balancers, jugglers, top spinners, equilibrists, and acrobats, performing
feats such as pagoda balancing, spinning tops on the edge of a sword, fire-eating,
jumping thorough drawn swords, and numerous other acrobatic feats. The troupe would
give an encore performance the following day before proceeding to Olympia.
May 14, 1940 – A 85 foot tall story pole carved by the late cultural leader and wood carver William Shelton of the Snohomish First Nation is officially dedicated on the Washington State Capitol grounds, though it will not erected in its concrete base until a month later. The pole, with its seven distinct sections, symbolized the ongoing peace between the region’s Native Americans and whites. For 70 years the state would serve as caretaker for the pole, repairing, caulking, pressure washing, and repainting it as needed. But time would take its toll and the pole is eventually removed in 2010 out of concern that, due to rot, it had become a safety hazard. While a determination has not yet been made regarding the pole’s destination, it will most likely go to the Burke Museum or Tulalip’s Hibulb Cultural Center. Native Paint Revealed chronicled the history and demise of the iconic artifact in an article here.
May 15, 1922 – Tusko, the giant circus elephant, rampages through the Skagit Valley town of Sedro-Woolley, Washington. The seven-and- a-half- ton, 10-feet- 2-inches tall,
“Mighty Monarch of the Jungle” had thrown his trainer and stormed from the animal tent
half an hour before show time, while he and other elephants were being cleaned. Tusko
initially stumbled about the circus grounds on the east end of town, then pounded north,
uprooting trees, mowing down telephone poles, ripping out fences leaving huge
footprints on delicately manicured lawns, going so far as to break in to a barn to eat some
hay before continuing on. Hundreds of men and boys tried, unsuccessfully, to follow
Tusko in the dark as the he traversed more than 30 miles of countryside.
It wasn’t until about 9:00 the next morning that Tusko’s posse succeeded in corralling the elephant
between a pair of angled boxcars near a farming area north of town, known as the Garden of Eden. Miraculously, no one was hurt during the night’s chaos. To avoid later litigation, the circus owner Al Barnes dispatched a representative to reimburse owners of damaged property, ultimately paying out $20,000 in damages. Unfortunately, Tusko’s future would only look bleaker for that point onward. Revolvy’s article on Tusko points out that “he spent some time in an exhibition road show, accompanied by his keeper and lifelong devotee, young George “Slim” Lewis. Tusko ended his days in the Seattle Zoo, dying of a blood clot on June 10, 1933.”
May 16, 1965 – Seattle City Council member Wing Luke, philanthropist and civic leader Sidney Gerber, and Gerber’s assistant Kate Ladue vanishes during a flight over the Cascade Range in Gerber’s small airplane. The three had been on a fishing trip earlier that day, and took off at 11 a.m. in Gerber’s black and yellow Cessna 180 seaplane from Lake Wannacutt located 10 miles south of Oroville in Okanogan County, Washington. They were due to arrive in Seattle at 1 p.m., though they encountered a snowstorm while crossing the Cascades. They are reported missing the following day, and 30 planes searched for the downed plane on both sides of Stevens Pass. Despite the intensive search, the wreckage of Gerber’s plane would not be found until 1968.
May 17, 1858 – Yakama, Palouse, Spokane, and Coeur d’Alene First Nation warriors attack and defeat a column of U.S. Army troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Steptoe, who withdraws his forces from tribal lands.
May 18, 1872 – Ice cream is sold for the first time in Seattle, Washington, and is an immediate hit, with two Seattle ice cream saloons quickly established. Ice cream could not be produced before 1872 because ice, an essential ingredient, was not available. In May 1872, the Puget Sound Ice Company, headed by Capt. Marshall Blinn, imported ice from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and began selling it in Seattle. Mr. L. Reinig, located on Mill Street, started making and selling ice cream in his shop along with a bountiful supply of soda water produced by the Levy Brothers in Seattle. Within a few days Thomas H. Stringham’s Bakery (east side of Front Street between Mill and Cherry streets) established an ice cream saloon for ladies and gentlemen. The bakery also offered spruce & ginger beer, and soda water, with ice of course. Seattleites enjoyed dancing parties and roller-skating parties on the Pavilion (southeast corner of Cherry and Front street). On these occasions, Stringham sold ice cream and other refreshments.
May 19, 1841 – The 53 foot 8 inch long schooner Star Of Oregon, the first Oregon-built oceangoing sailing ship, launches from the east side of Swan Island. The schooner was
designed by former Hudson’s Bay Company carpenter Felix Hathaway, with the
assistance of fur trapper, and former sailor, Joseph Gale. Their plan, which they executed
perfectly, was to build the ship, sail it to California, trade her for cattle, and then drive the
cattle overland back to Oregon. In California, then part of Mexico, General Mariano
Guadalupe Vallejo bought the Star of Oregon for 350 head of cattle and renamed her the
Jóven Fanita, after his daughter. The Oregon Encyclopedia covers the life of times of the great ship here.
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