Outdoors

Walking Washington

History on the hoof

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

“Located in the most remote corner of the continental United States, hunkered below a wilderness cascading down from the mountains, early Bellingham… had ambition,” writes historian Judy Bentley in jer new book, Walking Washington’s History.

Bellingham is one of 10 Washington cities that Bentley provides brief but engaging historical overviews for, along with walking routes that explore our region’s past on foot (or bicycle). Seattle, Olympia, Walla Walla, Everett, and Yakima are other destinations that Bentley—who also wrote the bestselling Hiking Washington’s History—explores and interprets for her readers.

Each tour is a loop from two to seven miles long, with each city chosen to represent a distinct chapter in the post-European settling and development of the Evergreen State: Vancouver as the earliest significant settlement in the Pacific Northwest, Port Townsend as an important port of call for sailing ships in the mid-1800s, Spokane symbolic of urban renewal and reinvention efforts of the 1970s, and so forth.

Bellingham, in a chapter subtitled “Reluctant City,” is symbolic of the many frenzied waves of resource extraction that created booms and busts throughout our region: coal, gold, timber and salmon.

The walking route begins at the totem “story pole” in front of the Whatcom County Courthouse depicting settlers Henry Roeder and Russell Peabody in a canoe with Lummi tribal leaders Ts-likw and Cha-wit-zit. It then crosses Pickett Bridge, taking in Whatcom Falls before strolling the Old Village Trail up Peabody Hill to the Pickett House—the oldest wooden building in Washington state still on its foundation. This short section of the walk proffers tales of early U.S. Army presence in the Washington Territory, sawmills and timber economics, a utopian commune from Kansas and relations with the local tribes.

The history tour continues through downtown, follows the waterfront to Fairhaven, then circles up South Hill, winding around the Western Washington University campus before bringing the sojourner back to the courthouse. Along with directions and a map, Bentley interprets what you are seeing all along the way, and why it matters in the century-and-a-half story of Bellingham’s development.

Did you know the City of Subdued Excitement has the first and oldest brick building in Washington state? Do you know why downtown has so many odd triangle intersections? Interested in knowing how Railroad Avenue got its name, where the Sehome coal mine was or the story behind the Big Tin Rock between the shoreline and the Boulevard over-water walkway? Curious about which city park was designed by the famous Olmsted Brothers and which library was funded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie?

As Bellingham continues to transform itself again, it is wise to remember where we’ve come from. There are stories in the ground beneath our feet, dashed dreams lingering in the air, as well as legacies of benevolent forethought from a not-so-distant past all around us.

Bentley’s new book is available through the University of Washington Press and at local bookstores.

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Events
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Fall Lynden Craft and Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

My Fair Lady

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Spokes

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Mixtape

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Scream Fair's Camp Fear

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Matilda the Musical

7:30pm| Lincoln Theatre

Hellingham

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Squawktober

8:00pm|Old Main Theater

Community Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Blaine Senior Center

Ferndale Breakfast

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Orca Recovery Day Work Party

9:00am|Nooksack River

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

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Blanchard Beast Trail Race

9:00am|Blanchard Forest Lower Trailhead

Twin Sisters Farmers Markets

9:00am|North Fork Library

98221 Studio Tour

10:00am|Fidalgo Island

Bellingham Comicon

10:00am|Ferndale Event Center

Steam Expo

10:00am|Lynden Middle School

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Your Life is a Story Writer's Group

10:30am|South Whatcom Library

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Fall Festival

11:00am|Camp Korey

Kraut-chi Ferment Class

11:00am|Chuckanut Center

Winter Warmth Drive and Pickup

11:00am|Assumption Church Gym

Art Therapy Workshop

1:30pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Telling Tough Stories

2:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Fables and Tales Upcycle Runway Challenge

6:00pm|Settlemeyer Hall

Concrete Ghost Walk

6:00pm|Concrete Theatre

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7:00pm|Village Books

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7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Skagit Symphony presents Highland Heritage

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Tomorrow
My Fair Lady

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Spokes

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Wishes and Dreams Call for Art

10:00am|Gallery Syre

Matilda the Musical

7:30pm| Lincoln Theatre

98221 Studio Tour

10:00am|Fidalgo Island

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Trails to Taps Relay

9:00am|Depot Market Square

Birchwood Farmers Market

10:00am|Park Manor Shopping Center

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11:00am|Goods Nursery and Produce

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Wild Mushroom Show

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