Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About The west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1875-1891 | View Entire Issue (June 21, 1890)
NEW WHATCOM, WASHINGTON.
New Whatcom is the name, of a town at the head of Belling
bam bay that includes what was formerly the town of Sehome
and territory entirely enclosing on the land side the city of
Whatcom. The new city was incorporated about two months
ago. Sehome had previously voted for incorporation, but it was
found that the law under which the action was taken was
invalid, so the work bad to be done again. The question of
consolidation of the towns on the bay came up for considera
tion at this time. The southernmost two towns on the bay
decided to combine under the name of Fairhaven, and an
understanding was had between the citizens of Sehome and
Whatcom looking toward the consolidation of those two in one
incorporation. The first step was for Sehome to re-incorporate.
This was done under the name of New Whatcom. Now all
that remains to be done is for the governing bodies of both
cities to act to combine the two municipalities into one, which
will bear the name of New Whatcom, as Whatcom was the
largest and best known town on the bay and nothing is lost by
preserving that name. They are practically one in all material
interests, and in speaking of the advantages of that locality
New Whatcom and Whatcom are considered together. The
" new " has more reference to the inauguration of a new era of
growth in the community than to marked political changes or
the establishment of a new town.
This consolidation gives a city of about 7,000 inhabitants
the fifth city in the state in point of size. This fact alone is of
considerable importance. Then it is a seaport and the strength
which the resources of the adjacent country give it is greatly
increased by the shipping facilities. Bellingham bay is in
nearly a direct line with the Straits of Fuca, so its ports afford
the shortest and safest route to the markets of the world from
the great Puget sound basin. This fact was appreciated when
a considerable commerce was carried on there years ago, but
the building of railroads diverted attention from the coast trade
which lost its relative importance, though it actually increased
very materially in volume. Whatcom had no railways pene
trating the interior. Those great avenues of commerce went
farther south, and such cities as Seattle and Tacoma were the
result. Lately railroads have been aiming for Bellingham bay
in a way that points unmistakably to the building up of an
extensive shipping business there and the development of the
wealth that lies in the hills and valleys of the interior.
The Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Railway is now in
operation a number of miles from New Whatcom, and most of
the work is done to a junction with the Canadian Pacific t
Mission. When this is completed New Whatcom will be the
American terminus of the Canadian line and through tramc
will constitute an important item of business for the new city.
All freight designed for coast points can be much more quickly
and safely transported from Bellingham bay than from toe
present western terminus of the Canadian Pacific, and as i tone
is an important element in modern transportation New What
com will command an important advantage in this respect even
if it were not a fact that navigation between that port and I the
ocean is less perilous. The section of mineral and timber una
that the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia "
insures it a large local business-more than enough to war ant
its construction without transcontinental connections in view.
The Nooksack valley also offers the best of advantages to farm
era, and this railway taps it at a cantrat point. Th m toe
Fairhaven & Northern Railway is in course o construct. ,u?
the coast to New Westminster, in British Co umbia, where
will meet the Canadian road and form the third side , of a W
angle. This line will skirt the entire water front of New What
com, thus directly reaching the wharves and affording rail
transportation to the best manufacturing district of the city.
On the south it connects with the Fairhaven & Southern, and
it will meet the Canadian branch at Blaine, on the international
boundary. With these railways in operation and trains will
be running on them before the end of the present year New
Whatcom will be independent, and the advantages it will com
mand can be scarcely overestimated. The Cornwall road (B.
B. & B. C), it is calculated, will be in running order-by October
and the Fairhaven & Northern will be completed as early.
There have been settlements along the coast for many years,
but there has never before been any well directed attempt to
open the interior and to promote the development of its re
sources. There was no disposition to explore the hills and
valleys of the inland country because of the lack of means for
carrying on commerce at any distance from the coast. The
construction of railways brings a new element to bear on the
situation, and one need be no prophet to see that great changes
will be wrought by the new agent. The mountains of coal and
iron of the best quality will yield their stores to some purpose.
The forests will be brought to the factories. The farms will be
placed in communication with remunerative markets. Machin
ery will be introduced into the country and the comforts of
civilization wUl be placed within the reach of the most obBcure
settler. There is great probability that the mining of the pre
cious metals will develop into an important industry. Gold
and silver have been found in sufficient quantities to encourage
nystematic prospecting, though but little actual work has been
done, owing to the remoteness from transportation. The city
will, of course, reap great benefit from the progress of the
adjacent country; and the whole of that rich area stretching
back to the summit of the Cascade mountains will pay tribute
to Bellingham bay as naturally as it will produce. And any
one who examines the nature of that region can not but admit
that Its producing powers are unsurpassed.
The safety of Bellingham bay for the deepest draft ocean
ships at any stage of the tide contributes to the significance of
the railway building now in progress north, south and east
from the harbor. It is not difficult to Bee how much business
that has hitherto gone to upper sound ports and to English bay
Bbould be controlled at this new candidate for commerce. A
brief consultation of the map will determine this point. There
is a free channel to the ocean-no narrow passages or danger
ous rocks for vessels to pass. It is also the nearest seaport to
vast area of mining and farming country east of the Cascade
mountains. One of the most accessible passes of the range lies
almost due east of Bellingham bay.
New Whatcom is situated at the northeastern corner of the
bav That which was formerly Sehome has a very distinct
done to the water, while old What is more level. The
treets of the latter, parallel with the water front, meet the
similar street of New Whatcom at right angles. A number of
fine buildings appear to good advantage as the town is ap
preached from the water. Some of these are shown in the
Element accompanying this number of WmBnonj. The
Whatcom county court house, not yet completed, will be a
magnificent structure of gray sandstone procured a most within
The city limit-, and it. cost will be $05,000. I will be finished
his eason. The school buildings are models of their kind.
Th SeCe school ha. just been completed. The othertwo
SI nlshed by October, at a cost of $15,000 each. The
Or L Central, the dehoma and the Bellingham supply be te
hotel accommodations than many larger cities possess, the first
SmldTSnijttrt been completed at a cost of $30,000 and
SSd mrMr or the entertainment of tourist.