May 6, 1955 – A large, fast-moving fire destroys Marysville’s largest industry, the Weiser Lumber Company. It is the worst fire in Marysville’s history up to that time. The
cause of the fire is not identified, but it does more than $300,000 in damage, none of
which is insured. No casualties are reported. Within a year the Weiser family rebuilds a
smaller mill at the same location. At the end of 2007, the Welco Lumber Company, who had operated a mill still then standing on the site, shuttered that operation over market realities. The closure ended over a century of wood milling in Marysville.
May 7, 1792 – Fur trader Captain Robert Gray and his crew are the first Europeans to enter Grays Harbor, a large natural harbor on the Pacific coast south of the Olympic Peninsula in present-day Grays Harbor County, Washington. Gray, on his second trading
voyage to the Northwest Coast from New England, is exploring the coast south of the
Strait of Juan de Fuca following a year of trading for sea otter and other furs on
Vancouver Island. His journey was wrought with much conflict and tragedy, yet his name remains one of the more common throughout the region with the eponymous bay, schools and parks perpetuating his presence here.
His celebrated boat the “Lady Washington” has a replica that sails the great distances her namesake did around the planet. An elegantly shot short feature of the vessel can be seen below.
May 8, 1968 – Returning to the Seattle Ferry Terminal from Winslow just before 6:30 p.m., the Superferry Kaleetan loses engine power half-mile from the terminal.
Realizing that the ship is not slowing fast enough, crewmembers under the direction of George
Brazeau run to the forward automobiles and warn the occupants to run to the rear of the
vessel. The ferry strikes a wingwall and then slammed into the slip at about ten knots,
damaging five cars. A projection on the pier smashed through the windshield of the lead
car, but due to the quick actions of the crew, all crew and passengers avoid serious injury.
After the impact, the Kaleetan coasted into a nearby auxiliary slip, where the damaged
vehicles were towed off and the other 60 vehicles were unloaded. The Evergreen State
took over the Winslow run for the rest of the evening, and after repairs, the Kaleetan
returned to service the next morning. A wonderful website for Ferry Enthusiasts www.evergreenfleet.com
has an article on the MV Kaleetan, and every other ship in the fleet.
May 9, 1971 – The Peace Candle of the World is dedicated in Scappoose, Oregon. The
creation of Darrel Brock, the operator of a candle factory in a converted dairy barn in Scappoose, the candle is a structure shaped around a silo consisting of 45,000 pounds of candle wax shaped into a cylinder 50 feet tall and 18 feet in diameter, intended to be a symbol of the desire for world peace. With the aid of a cherry picker and a 60 foot long
match, Governor Tom McCall, Scappoose Mayor Forrest Sanders, and Darrel Borck light the candle during the Mother’s Day ceremony. The candle originally had a real wick, but it was replaced first with a natural gas line, and then a neon “flame”. The “candle” still stands and is visible from U.S. Highway 30. Falling into the annals of weird and wonderful roadside attractions, the Oregon candle’s history is well documented. In a wild twist of history repeating itself,
the Peace Candle was the second incarnation of a big burning light, as 1952 to celebrate Oregon’s ccentenary, a giant candle was lit with the intention that it burn forever. The flame was extinguished only 100 days into its existence after the sponsor went bankrupt. A concrete monument to the endeavor still stands in front of the Damascus Fire Department.
May 10, 1862 – With machinist and engineer Mr. Theodore A. Goffe at the controls, the Oregon Pony, the first steam locomotive in Oregon makes its inaugural run. The tracks of
the Oregon Portage Railroad, the state’s first, ran between Tanner Creek (not the
Northwest Portland Tanner Creek, but a creek of the same name near where the
Bonneville Dam is now) and Cascade Locks. Built by Vulcan Iron Works of San
Francisco for the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, which operated the railroad and
steamships that served the Columbia River ports of Astoria, Portland, and The Dalles, the
Oregon Pony was used to portage steamboat passengers and goods past the Cascade
Rapids (which were inundated when the Bonneville Dam was completed). During its
long history, the Oregon Pony would change many hands, before being restored by the
Port of Cascade Locks in 1981. Today the Oregon Pony on permanent display in a
weatherproofed enclosure at Cascade Locks Marine Park near the Cascade Locks
May 11, 1912 – B. W. Copeland opens Spokane&’ s lavish Rex Theater in Spokane, Washington. Representing an expenditure of $20,000, the venue holds almost every
modern convenience known to moviegoers at the time, seating 500 with a 120-foot span
between the screen and the projection booth, which housed a Simplex projector and the
popular Powers #6 model. The Spokesman Review has a shocking Then & Now photo comparison highlighting the loss of historic architecture throughout the American West.
May 12, 1924 – The new St. Helens Theatre in Chehalis, Washington opens for business with the silent comedy; Sporting Youth; a feature film starring Reginald Denny and Laura LaPlante. Located on Market Street adjacent to the St. Helens Hotel, the new
theater seats 850 people and reportedly cost $100,000 to construct. Again for the cinema lovers, cinematreasures.com provides a wonderful resource for the history of film and film houses around Cascadia.
Don’t forget to submit your own Cascadian history events at the link below.