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Walking Washington’s History: Bellingham

Here's a  look at the "urban hiking guide" Walking Washington’s History by Judy Bentley; published by University of Washington Press.

“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 her new book from University of Washington Press.

Four villages — Whatcom, Sehome, Bellingham, and Fairhaven — grew along the waterfront of Bellingham Bay and rode every boom and bust that swept the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Whatcom surged on sawmills and a gold rush; Sehome boomed on a coal mine and railroad hopes. They merged in 1891 to become New Whatcom. The next village south on the bay, Bellingham, had a brief fling with coal but was swallowed up by Fairhaven to the south, which had visions of railroads and ended up with canneries. In sequence, they inhaled opportunity, exhaled optimism, and built long docks into the bay.

Bellingham is one of ten 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, 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.
historic-preservation
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