This Week Then: The Growth of Wenatchee

Plus: The anniversary of two Pacific Northwest theater openings
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A chief instigator of the Grand Coulee Dam project was none other than Rufus Woods, publisher of The Wenatchee World. While prospecting for story ideas, it was suggested that he visit William M. Clapp, an Ephrata attorney who had banded together with local citizens to come up with a plan that would help the region's farmers grow more crops. Woods was intrigued with their proposal to dam the Columbia River and became one the project's biggest advocates. His 1918 article was a major early step in the long process to have the dam built, and his newspaper played a key media role in selling the project's merits. Even after the dam was completed in 1941, Woods continued to promote Wenatchee and the region, even rousing himself on his deathbed in 1950 to extol the marvels of the dam and the river.

Cities on the Go

Wenatchee isn't the only Washington community that got its start near the beginning of a new year. On January 4, 1851, the first land claims were filed at the site of the future city of Oak Harbor. On January 8, 1875, George and Mary Jane Washington founded the town of Centerville, which later became Centralia.  And on January 7, 1884, Tacoma City and New Tacoma were merged into one.

On January 7, 1903Monroe incorporated, and later became known for its dairy farms as well as home to the state reformatoryGeorgetown incorporated on January 8, 1904, but was annexed to Seattle six years later. And on January 7, 1908, the newly incorporated town of Poulsbo held its first council meeting.

NEWS THEN, HISTORY NOW

Maritime Woe

On January 8, 1904, the SS Clallam set sail from Seattle to Victoria B.C. Upon entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca, she encountered heavy seas and began to founder. Lifeboats were launched, but they immediately capsized. By the time help arrived early the next morning, 56 persons had drowned. This week also marks a deadly wreck at Peacock Spit at Cape Disappointment, when the SS Rosecrans went down on January 7, 1913, with a loss of 33 lives.

Healthy Glow

On January 4, 1907, Anna Clise and a circle of her friends founded the Children's Orthopedic Hospital Association. The all-female board of trustees (the first men were not seated until 2004) was organized before women could vote, but it quickly garnered broad public support to open a "Fresh Air House," and later Children's Orthopedic Hospital, on Queen Anne Hill. Even feared Teamster boss Dave Beck chipped in to help move what is now called Seattle Children's Hospital to its present Laurelhurst campus in 1953.

On With the Show

This week we note the anniversary of two theater openings: Seattle's Coliseum on January 8, 1916 and Tacoma's Pantages Theatre on January 7, 1918. Both buildings were designed by B. Marcus Priteca and are still standing. The Coliseum is now a Banana Republic clothing store, but the Tacoma venue lives on as the oldest Pantages Theatre still in operation.

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