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Diablo Dam incline railway climbing Sourdough Mountain, 1930. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 2306.
Children waving to ferry, 1950. Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.
Loggers in the Northwest woods. Courtesy Washington State Digital Archives.
This Week Then
February is Black History Month, and this week HistoryLink looks at some of the efforts that African Americans in Washington have made to achieve fair and equal access to education. In the ***00s, many black students had to struggle with discrimination in order to attend school, and yet they persevered. After Washington became a state in ***9, William Owen Bush -- eldest son of George W. Bush, one of the first U.S. citizens to settle in the future Washington -- was elected to the first state legislative session and used his term in office to advocate for the creation of a state agricultural college, which would later become Washington State University.
The Kitsap County School District hired its first black teacher in ***97, but it took much longer for many other school districts to follow suit. It wasn't until 1947 that Seattle Public Schools hired its first black instructors, Thelma Dewitty (shown above) and Marita Johnson. In 1967, Donald Phelps -- grandson of Seattle pioneer John T. Gayton -- became the first black secondary-school principal in the state, at Bellevue Junior High. In 1969, Guela Gayton Johnson became the first African American librarian to head a University of Washington departmental library. And in 1975, Dorothy Hollingsworth was the first black woman in the state to serve on a school board.
In 1957, the Seattle School Board took its first census of school enrollment by race, and the results clearly showed that de facto segregation was in place, much to the frustration of civil rights groups. Seattle lawyer Philip Burton filed a lawsuit on behalf of the NAACP against the Seattle School Board, which led to a voluntary transfer program in an attempt to ease racial imbalance. The response to the program was minimal, and civil rights leaders put out the call for mandatory busing.
In 1970, a limited mandatory busing plan was put in place, followed by a broader plan in 1972. District-wide busing began in 1978, but legal challenges, waning public support, and "white flight" led school officials to gradually scale back the program. Seattle's first African American mayor, Norm Rice, defended busing in his successful 1989 campaign, but the "Seattle Plan" would end under Seattle Public Schools' first African American superintendent, John Stanford.
Seventy-five years ago this week, in the late morning of February ***, 1943, a strange-looking plane crashed into the Frye Packing Plant short of Boeing Field, killing the pilot, 10 crewmen, and 19 factory workers. Few details made it into the newspapers, as most press coverage of the catastrophe was censored. A few days later, and seemingly unrelated, a veil of secrecy also obscured the reasons behind the condemnation of 625 square miles of land near Hanford and Richland.
It wasn't until 1945 that the truth became known. The plane was a top-secret prototype of the famed B-29 Superfortress that would drop the first atomic bombs -- fueled from the Hanford Engineer Works.
News Then, History Now
On February 19, 1909, Teamsters Local 174 was chartered in Seattle. Initial membership was about 400, mostly wagon men. When motor-truck drivers were brought into the fold, the local grew quickly and has since become one of the region's most influential unions.
On February 21, 1935, the state legislature approved the blanket primary initiative sponsored by the Washington State Grange and promoted by Grange Lecturer (and future Speaker of the House) Charles W. Hodde. The popular blanket primary remained in place for nearly seventy years until it was voided by the courts. The Grange responded with another initiative, which established the state's current top-two primary when voters overwhelmingly approved it in 2004.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, setting in motion the expulsion of some 110,000 people of Japanese descent, most of them U.S. citizens, from the West Coast to inland prison camps. The internment uprooted thousands of Washington residents from Bainbridge Island, Seattle, the San Juan Islands, the Yakima Valley, Spokane, and elsewhere around the state.
On February 16, 1946, Issaquah's