It is likely no surprise that we have piles and shelves of WSU Press books all over our offices. So why this stack of clearly older titles we didn’t publish?
It all started with a manuscript submission from Wenatchee Valley College English professor Peter Donahue, just published as Salmon Eaters to Sagebrushers: Washington’s Lost Literary Legacy. A hybrid of literary criticism, history, and biography, the volume examines Washington State novels, memoirs, and poetry from the late 1800s to the mid-1960s, pairing reappraisals of more than forty works with short excerpts and author profiles.
Reading about these once best-selling writers and their work inspired us to begin our own collection of their vintage fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We didn’t have to look far, easily discovering several at our campus and community libraries as well as our local used bookstore. We hope our success inspires other readers to seek out gems from the past.
The pictured mass-market edition of Scarlet Petticoat contains a note from Nard Jones that we, given our focus on Northwest history, found immensely amusing:
“Readers unfamiliar with the early history of the Lower Columbia River may inquire, as is their right, which parts of the foregoing story are based upon historical fact. For the casual inquisitor, it will suffice to confess that Jane Barnes, Alexander Henry, Donald McTavish, Duncan McDougall, Doctor Swann, Chief Comcomly, La Blanche, Little Necklace, and others mentioned in the narrative, actually lived on the banks of the Columbia in 1813–1814.
For those who prefer history, a bibliography is appended—with the respectful warning that the contemporary historian of the nineteenth century, like that of the twentieth, was himself two-thirds novelist.”
For those who can’t wait to get started, below are links to public domain works by some of the Salmon Eaters to Sagebrushers authors. Enjoy!
Residents of Seattle and Central Puget Sound are familiar with Sound Transit as the agency behind their multi-billion dollar light rail train network. Without commuter trains, the growing region of more than three million would suffocate under congestion. Yet in its beginning phase, the public transportation organization confronted one controversy after another and teetered on the verge of collapse. Back on Track: Sound Transit’s Fight to Save Light Rail, recently published by Washington State University (WSU) Press, is an inside look at those early days and how WSU graduate and new CEO Joni Earl, despite having no transit experience, pulled them from the brink of closure.
The book’s primary focus is on the pivotal year 2001. Sound Transit faced angry backlash from multiple fronts after announcing it would require a billion extra dollars and three additional years to complete its initial light rail line. There were unrelenting attacks from all corners—legal, political, and personal. Opponents intensified their efforts to eliminate the fledgling agency, and headlines in local papers repeatedly mocked the organization as “hapless,” “beleaguered,” or “out of control.” At public meetings, irate taxpayers, joined by a number of regional politicians, lined up to eviscerate the agency’s leaders. Booth Gardner, a former two-term governor, did not support light rail. He shared his opinion with anyone who would listen, and many did. Dino Rossi, then a prominent state Senator, introduced a bill in the legislature asking voters to dissolve Sound Transit. In Washington, D.C., approval for desperately needed federal funding faltered as members of Congress from as far away as Kentucky railed against the Seattle agency.
Back on Track author Bob Wodnik is a former Puget Sound reporter and columnist who received the Blethen Award for feature writing and an Excellence in Journalism award from the Pacific Northwest Society of Professional Journalists. He witnessed events as Sound Transit’s senior communications specialist from 1999 to 2017. To recount their story and detail challenges and solutions, he utilizes in-depth interviews with the start-up era’s major players. In particular, he profiles Joni Earl, who became the driving force behind saving Link light rail and its $3 billion program—one that today averages more than 76,000 riders every weekday.
Washington State University (WSU) Press has named Linda Bathgate as editor-in-chief starting September 3, 2019. Replacing Robert A. Clark, who retired in January, 2019, Bathgate comes to WSU Press after working for the University Press of Florida (UPF) in Gainesville, Florida, where she was Deputy Director and Editor-in-Chief. She has extensive editorial experience, including book and journal acquisitions, development, writing, technical editing, and project coordination. At UPF, she acquired and developed trade and academic resources, including scholarly monographs in space history, gardening, and natural history. She also managed an acquisitions team with annual revenues of over $2 million and facilitated the expansion of their journals program from two to ten. Prior to her time at UPF, she served on the editorial staff at several publishing companies, including Routledge/Taylor & Francis, LLC, and John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Bathgate holds an MS in Publishing from New York’s Pace University, where she was also an Adjunct Professor, and a BA in Literature from the University of California at San Diego. WSU Press Director Edward Sala is pleased with the search results. “Linda’s outstanding accomplishments and experience in growing scholarly and trade publishing programs will be a tremendous asset to WSU Press as we continue to build on our established list of award-winning books and journals,” he said. A nonprofit academic publisher associated with Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, WSU Press concentrates on telling unique, focused stories of the Northwest.
Some families are full of storytellers, and Robert Wright was fortunate to grow up in such a clan. As a young boy, he eagerly absorbed his physician grandfather’s thrilling tales about medical practice on the frontier West—of performing operations by lantern light and braving avalanches while traveling to remote patients by dogsled. He asked question after question about sights, sounds, smells, emotions, and thoughts. Yet as he grew older, Wright became aware of an unspoken past. There were certain topics they never discussed. Who was the girl in the photograph on the dresser? Why hadn’t he ever met his spirited Aunt Jean, a lively part of so many of his grandfather’s anecdotes?
The mysteries behind the questions drove him to delve deeper, and he resolved to fully capture and recount the beloved Doc’s exciting life. So as a teenager, before they were no longer around to ask, Wright would sit cross-legged on the floor with a typewriter propped before him, grilling his elders for details, tapping the keys to record their answers. He did eventually uncover those family secrets, but he still needed to expand beyond a personal history to make it a complete story.
To achieve a cohesive manuscript, the Hailey, Idaho native spent nearly two decades gathering information, conducting interviews, speaking with a variety of medical specialists—a University of Washington professor, pediatric heart surgeon, even a gynecologist, and ear, nose, and throat specialist. He researched the time period, reading history books and texts on everything from steam locomotives to sled dogs to the hats and shoes people wore. He visited locations and wrote seemingly endless revisions. A devastating loss of his own enriched his portrayals of events.
On the Northwest Coast in antiquity, people made an estimated 85 percent of objects entirely from wood and other plant materials that normally do not survive the ravages of time. Fortunately, wetlands, silt-laden rivers, high groundwater levels, and abundant rainfall have provided ideal conditions for long-term preservation of waterlogged wood. Although few intentionally search for wet sites, every Northwest Coast archaeologist may encounter waterlogged cultural remains on beaches and eroding riverbanks, at the bottom of an excavation trench, or even inland, away from the coast. Those who investigate such places can uncover artifacts, structures, and environmental remains that are missing from the usual reconstructions of past lifeways.
Clearly, wet sites matter, yet wet-site archaeology is not widely known in North America. To help bridge that gap, editor Kathryn Bernick, an internationally recognized expert on basketry technology and a research associate in archaeology at the Royal British Columbia Museum, brought together sixteen other experienced archaeologists who work on the Northwest Coast. With her guidance, they produced Waterlogged: Examples and Procedures for Northwest Coast Archaeologists, recently published by Washington State University Press. In it, Bernick and her colleagues discuss their original research in regional and global perspectives, share highlights of their findings, provide direction and guidance on how to locate wet sites, and outline procedures for recovering and caring for perishable waterlogged artifacts. They also offer practical information about logistics, equipment, and supplies, including a list of items for a wet-site field kit.
To demonstrate the significance of wet sites, Waterlogged presents previously unpublished original research spanning the past ten thousand years of human presence on the Northwest Coast. Examples include the first fish trap features in the region to be identified as longshore weirs, a complete 750-year-old basket cradle from the lower Fraser Valley, wooden self-armed fishhooks from the Salish Sea, and a paleoethnobotanical study at the 10,500-year-old Kilgii Gwaay wet site on Haida Gwaii. In addition, contributors discuss insider-vs.-outsider perceptions of wetlands in Cowichan traditional territory on Vancouver Island, a habitation site in a disappearing wetland in the Fraser Valley, a collaborative community–academic project on the Babine River in the Fraser Plateau, and Early and Middle Holocene waterlogged materials from British Columbia’s central coast.
A thoughtful reader recently alerted WSU Press to missing pages in her copy of Sagebrush Homesteads. We narrowed the cause to a scanning failure that created a deficient printing file. Unfortunately, although older copies are intact, this means that all the copies from our most recent print run—about 500—have the issue. Please accept our deepest apologies for the error.
If you have purchased a flawed copy, please contact us for a free replacement. We will provide a new print copy, and/or a complete PDF. For your convenience, the six missing pages are available to read and view below, and as a free download (select the missing pages option under FORMAT) on the Sagebrush Homesteads product page.
fright. A ten foot, eight by eight inch timber had been set upright deep into the ground for a snubbing post. Even then, they couldn’t get near enough to put on the harness until a blinder was tied over his eyes. They handled him as gently as possible, patting and rubbing his back as they put on the harness and buckled it, talking to him as he trembled under their hands.
Matt, an old white horse who had long since adopted an easy-going gait that nothing could excite, was used as a teammate in breaking in young horses. Roanie was hitched with Matt and driven around in the plowed field for a while to accustom him to the bridle and the pull on the reins. Next, the team was fastened to a heavy drag to teach him to pull a load and to become used to an object at his heels. During his training period he was kept in the barn where he came in closer contact with men, though little progress was made in his training. He was so unmanageable the men were convinced he was an outlaw, and he was turned out to pasture with the other horses.
Some weeks later when Roanie came to the barnlot for water with the other horses, Papa noticed he was limping badly. With the other horses he was driven into the barn. Closer examination showed one hind leg was badly swollen, and a piece of barbed wire extended out from his foot. He had become entangled in a barbed wire gate which had been left on the ground and a loop was drawn so tightly around his foot just below the fetlock it was with difficulty cut away. His foot and leg were supperating, with the swelling extending far up his leg. It must have been extremely painful. In his sickened condition, he stood trembling but no longer fighting. Treatment was begun. His leg was placed in a five gallon can of warm water, to which was added carbolic acid, several times a day. This treatment was continued for periods each day until the infection was stopped and the leg returned to normal.
Roanie learned that man is a friend instead of an enemy; and when it came time to resume his education to work he no longer fought. He became the most willing horse on any team; his neck arched proudly, prancing along with tail slightly raised, he was always out in front, a natural leader.
At first he was placed in the wheel team when a four-horse team was being driven, as a safer place for a young high-spirited horse, but he was always in trouble there, impatiently biting his team-mate or the ones in front. Then someone got the idea of trying him in the lead team. From that time there was no more trouble with Roanie; after a long hard trip he would (Orne in prancing, flecked with foam and covered with sweat, but out in front of the rest of the team. He became the favorite farm horse, whether for riding, driving or working; to be trusted anywhere. The buckskin never gave in. Kicking, striking, lying down to be dragged when placed in the header team, he would not accept the control of man.
A man by the name of George who was working for us during the harvest season, decided to try riding the buckskin when all other methods to break the horse had failed. Buckskin was taken from the header team and drawn up to the snubbing post, blindfolded and saddled. George climbed on, settled himself into the saddle with his spurred boots in the stirrups and told Jim, “Turn him loose!”
The buckskin seemed to go insane with rage; squealing his hate as he went into action. The next moment he reared on his hind legs to throw himself over backwards in an attempt to crush the hated object on his back. George saw what was happening and managed to leap off to one side. Quicker than a cat, the horse regained his feet and before George could get out of the way, Buckskin bit him on the thigh then whirled and lashed out at him with both hind feet. One hoof struck the same thigh that had received the bite.
Now George’s blood was up. ‘I’ll ride him or kill him,” he exploded. But Jim stepped in. “No, George,” he told him, “That horse is liable to kill you. He is too dangerous.” Papa and Billie agreed with Jim, so all efforts to tame the buckskin were discontinued and he was traded off for a gentle riding pony.
The summer of 1907 saw most of the range cattle in our area
PAGES 92 – 93
department,” Stella explained. “The instructors are always glad to have us bring specimens for biological study.”
Such a reasonable request was not to be denied. Doubtless a number of scorpions were just waiting the opportunity of going to college! Armed with short sticks and carrying cans and jars, we spent most of one afternoon in the big flat, turning over rocks in search of the little poisonous creature with the long jointed tail. That tail ended in a bulb and sharp stinger which we were careful to avoid when an over-turned rock disclosed one beneath. It was carefully prodded with the short stick to get it into the jar as it tried to find something into which to plunge that stinger. About twenty scorpions were captured that day. To render them safe for travel and handling, she secured formaldehyde at Carl’s drug store.
Mamma’s sister Ellen Wood, came out from Saint Louis for a visit and to be near her boys, Cleve and Ottie who were both employed in Seattle. Aunt Ellen stopped for a few weeks’ visit before going on to Seattle, and while at our place she became interested in homestead land.
One mile north of our place in the same section with the Barton homestead, was a quarter section which had not yet been homesteaded. It could be reached on foot across a deep coulee that lay between our place and the quarter section. About forty acres of tillable land lay on top of the bench above the flat, and another possible forty acres in the flat.
“There is some pretty good land in that part on top of the bench, Ellen,” Papa told her. “Now that the railroad is coming through, there will be more people looking for land.”
“How long did you say I would have to live on it to prove up on it?” Being way off there in the sagebrush would be something entirely different from what she had been used to. ‘I’d have to live on it most of the time, wouldn’t I?”
“You can prove up any time after three years. Susie would be glad to have you near us, and you could visit back and forth so you wouldn’t be alone all the time.” Papa knew how pleased Mamma would be to have her sister living near.
“Some of the children could come over and stay part of the time at nights,” Mamma assured her. “We would see that you had a way to get to town for groceries when you need anything.” Aunt Ellen was interested, and when she heard that someone else was also considering the property, she lost no time in getting to the land office and securing it for herself. When the railroad grading construction camp nearest to her place moved on, she bought the office shack and had it moved to her homestead.
It was a lonely place in the little tar-papered shack, with Bartons as her nearest neighbors three quarters of a mile away. Some one of our family often went over to keep her company, or she came over to spend a few days with us. After the boys’ work at Seattle was completed the next spring, Cleve came to live with her; but since there were no calls for a marble setter amid the sagebrush, he was often away working.
“If I just had a little dog for company, Cleveland, it would not be quite so lonely,” she told him one day. She knew there
PAGES 96 – 97
“Did you girls bother any of their melons?” Mamma queried them.
“Well, the coyotes were he!ping themselves and we thought we might as well have one as for the coyotes to get them. It was good and ripe, too.” They didn’t seem to feel badly when Mamma chided them for it.
The next time the cows were not to be found near home, it was evident they had gone back to the neighbors. Remembering the melon patch, I generously offered to ride after the strays. As I hoped, my offer was accepted.
Yea, the cows were there. So was the watermelon patch, as I discovered after some searching. Riding up to the house to say “Hello!” and incidentally, to assure myself there was no one at home, I returned to the patch. Coyotes had been raiding it, too, I could see as I got off to examine if any were ripe, and started to pick one. I could feel eyes watching me on all sides. Guiltily, I got on my horse and started after the cows. But Temptation was not to leave me alone so easily. Again, I looked at the patch of melons thinking of the ones the coyotes were getting. Turning my horse, I rode back to the patch, jumped off and hastily picked one before those All-seeing Eyes could make themselves felt too strongly. At a distance from the patch, with anticipation of its juiciness, I broke it over the saddle horn. It was green. I rode on after the cows.
“WE’LL BUTCHER THE HOGS tomorrow. Billie and John can be over to help.” We were at the supper table, and Papa was letting Mamma know his plans for the next day.
“How many are you butchering this time?” inquired Mamma. “There will be three to kill this time. Those young shoats are
fattened and ready to kill, and the weather is turning cooler.”
Vapor was rising from the long vat in the barnyard on that crisp October morning. Papa was astir early to get the water heating so it would be ready when Billie and John got there to help.
A long shallow pit had been dug in the barnlot in which a fire was laid. The long metal scalding vat filled with water was placed over this heat, and from time to time Papa tested the water to find when it was ready for scalding the hogs. A heavy timber was set up on crossed supports near by on which to hang the hogs. Boards were laid on saw-horses beside the vat to form a platform on which the scalded animal was placed to scrape off the bristles.
Otis and I were always interested in anything unusual going on about the place, but when the water was finally ready for the next step, Papa would say, “You children go to the house to your mother.” We were never allowed to watch what went on at the pig pen. A harnessed horse stood near in readiness to pull the carcass to the small platform beside the scalding vat. From the kitchen window we watched until the dead animal was safely in the water.
“Mamma, can we go and watch now?” We knew Papa would not mind if we watched the rest of the work.
“Yes, if you keep back out of the way; and take this big
In the past, many historians chose to ignore the historical significance of indigenous wives during the birth of Bellingham Bay communities, typically mentioning only the first white women. Yet these mid-1800s alliances played a crucial role, with the women serving as cultural interpreters and mediators, aiding settlement, and reducing regional conflict between native peoples and newcomers. The newest book from Washington State University Press, Candace Wellman’s Interwoven Lives: Indigenous Mothers of Salish Coast Communities, depicts the lives of four of these intermarried Native women.
A companion work to Peace Weavers: Uniting the Salish Coast through Cross-Cultural Marriages, Wellman’s first book on Puget Sound’s cross-cultural marriages, Interwoven Lives describes each wife’s native culture, details ancestral history for both spouses, and traces descendants’ destinies, highlighting their contributions to new communities. Wellman’s research also reveals new details about the Northwest life of Captain George W. Pickett, who later became a Civil War brigadier general.
Jenny Wynn, daughter of an elite Lummi and his Songhees wife, owned a farm with her husband Thomas and donated property for the region’s second rural school. Many descendants became teachers. Snoqualmie Elizabeth Patterson, daughter of Patkanim, western Washington’s most powerful native leader, married a cattleman. After tuberculosis took her life, foster parents raised her daughters, who enhanced Lynden’s literary and business growth as adults. Mary Allen was the daughter of an Nlaka’pamux leader on British Columbia’s Fraser River. The village of Marietta arose from her long marriage. Later, her sons played important roles in southeast Alaska’s early development. Mrs. Pickett, the Haida wife of Fort Bellingham’s commander, died young and left no name to history, but she gave birth to one of the West’s most important early artists, James Tilton Pickett.
Wellman holds undergraduate degrees in sociology from Washington State University and history/secondary education from Western Washington University, and has pursued graduate work in sociology. Born and raised in Washington, the Bellingham resident is a local history consultant and speaks regularly about women’s history and regional settlement. Peace Weavers won the 2018 WILLA literary award for scholarly nonfiction from Women Writing the West.
Wellman attributes much of her success to the generous assistance of mentors and numerous contributors. An expert researcher, her methodology combined disparate primary and secondary sources in academic and local history as well as genealogy and family memory—and her discoveries help destroy common stereotypes about these cross-cultural marriages. Coll Thrush, University of British Columbia professor and author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, agrees. “Candace Wellman’s years of painstaking research and work with local families have brought to the fore these crucially important histories of Indigenous-settler relations in the far Northwest, and challenge much of the received wisdom about the workings of colonialism in this place.”
Interwoven Lives is paperback, 6″ x 9″, 310 pages in length, and lists for $27.95. It is available through bookstores nationwide, direct from WSU Press at 800-354-7360 or online at wsupress.wsu.edu. A nonprofit academic publisher associated with Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, WSU Press concentrates on telling unique, focused stories of the Northwest.
(The book’s cover image, featured here, is “Mt. Rainier,” an oil painting by James Tilton Pickett of Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of the Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, Washington.)
In December 2015, columnist and newly-retired politician Jean Godden suffered a heart attack. Reflecting during her recovery, she realized she had never told the hidden account of Governor Dixy Lee Ray and the deadly 1980 volcanic eruption. She had not written about Mayor Charley Royer’s initial response when a Greek freighter rammed the West Seattle Bridge, gubernatorial candidate Norm Rice’s battle with a false rumor, or the party staff held the night the Seattle Post-Intelligencer moved to the waterfront. And, she had never fully confided why she decided to leave what she calls, “the best job in the world,” and run for office. It is these stories and others that now—released from the aroma of hospital disinfectants and the tether of IV tubes—she was eager to tell, and she lets them loose in the newest title from Washington State University Press, Citizen Jean: Riots, Rogues, Rumors, and other Inside Seattle Stories.
Godden spent two decades as a reporter, editor, and columnist with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times, and served three terms as a Seattle city councilmember, working toward reducing the country’s largest gender wage gap, championing paid parental leave, and more. She witnessed historic events, watched her beloved hometown evolve into a civic and national affairs leader, met city and state movers and shakers, and became a local celebrity herself.
Godden’s tales are based on her own notes, ample files, recollections, and personal experiences. Indeed, few people have spent so much time contemplating Seattle. “What could be better than having two careers, one as a witness recording city history being made and a second one participating in making that history? Seattle is my adopted city, the only one where I have roots. It is a city that has gone from a remote waystation, little known on the world stage, to a leader in civic and national affairs. No longer do people ask if Seattle is near Nome or if you can see Anchorage from here. What is happening in Seattle today shapes the world tomorrow,” she says.
In Citizen Jean, the consummate observer recounts—as only she can—the World’s Fair that got Seattle noticed, the citizen-led battle against freeways, the fight to keep Pike Place Market away from New York investors, the World Trade Organization protests, and more. She shares personal insights, delivers an insider’s view of the city’s newspaper strikes and rivalry, and casts a revealing look at regional politicians.
Beginning in February 2019, she’ll be making multiple appearances across Seattle at places like Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books in Ravenna, and the University Book Store. Our events page has details.
For links to some of her articles, go here and here.
Dinner (including a cocktail) at the top of the brand new Space Needle averaged $7.50
The text reveals that the Space Needle soars to a height of 606 feet. Three curved steel legs, 500 feet high, support a circular, glass-enclosed observation deck and revolving restaurant served by two high speed elevators walled in clear plastic on the outside of a triangular core. In the center, two 832-step stairways zigzagged to the top.
Powered by a one-horsepower motor, it took an hour for the restaurant to rotate a full 360 degrees at a cost of 2 1/2 cents. Diners could expect lunch in the Eye of the Needle restaurant to average $5 and dinner, $7.50 (both prices include a cocktail).
Admission to the observation deck was $1. Buried 30 feet in the ground, the needle’s Y-shaped reinforced concrete foundation weighs more than 5,850 tons, and its legs are attached by 72 steel anchor bolts, each four inches in diameter and 31 1/2 feet long. Find more on the current Space Needle and its more than $100 million renovation here.
According to the guide, the 1.2 -mile Monorail trip from Westlake Mall downtown to the fairgrounds took 95 seconds. One-way fares were 50 cents for adults and 35 cents for children. Round trip fares were 75 and 50 cents.
Described as previewing the future of mass-transit, the trains were 120 feet long and 10 feet wide with a capacity of 450 passengers, but 325 of them had to stand. Empty, each of the four light-metal alloy cars that make up a train weighed about 20,000 pounds. Powered by General Electric 32-volt, 6,500-rpm electric motors, they rode on rubber tires and could reach speeds of over 70 miles an hour on the straight run. Made from pre-cast concrete supported by T-shaped concrete columns, the track is three feet wide and five feet deep, and required more than 15,000 tons of steel.
Below, fair visitors were welcomed by a bronze Chief Seattle statue. At its Fifth and Denny Way site since 1912, numerous groups proposed relocating it prior to the fair. You can read about that, and stories of other memorial close calls in Monumental Seattle.
There were also ads for some interesting products:
Enjoy the latest development in water sports–5 to 6 motorless, noiseless fast-boats propelled by underwater cables–for low-cost enjoyment of water-skiing. Made in Switzerland.
The Monte-Copter Triphibian for use on land-sea-air
Executive air transportation from home to business, lake cottage, vacation spot etc. with minimum of delay. This jet helicopter is pneumatically driven, eliminating gears, clutches, drive shafts, and tail rotor, and can be driven in close quarters without the rotor in motion. Dealerships now available.
Beginning with the 1899 installation of a Tlingit totem pole in Pioneer Square and stretching to Safeco Field’s 2017 Ken Griffey Jr. sculpture, Seattle offers an impressive abundance of public monuments, statues, busts, and plaques. Private donors and civic groups commissioned works by prominent national sculptors, as well as local artists James A. Wehn, Alonzo Victor Lewis, and others, to represent diverse perspectives and celebrate a wide array of cultural heroes, dozens of firsts, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, aviation, and military and maritime service. Whether cast in bronze or carved in granite, their longevity is not guaranteed. The newest book from Washington State University Press, Monumental Seattle: The Stories Behind the City’s Statues, Memorials, and Markers, offers Seattle residents and visitors a historical narrative of these public remembrances—accounts that often take unexpected twists and turns.
A Seattle Chamber of Commerce delegation stole the city’s first heritage marker from a Native Alaskan village. A bust of Chief Seattle was “kidnapped” and held for ransom. Visitors find the statue hailing William H. Seward—Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln who later negotiated the 1867 purchase of Russian Alaska—not in Seward Park, but in Volunteer Park. Similarly, the granite bust in Denny Park does not honor a Denny. Intense public scrutiny of a memorial depicting a World War I soldier prompted its removal from the city center. An unassuming plaque positioned on the corner of a downtown building belies a secret tale of Gold Rush love, betrayal, and murder.
In addition to telling the stories behind these heritage markers, author Robert Spalding considers their history and deeper meaning, exploring how and why people chose to commemorate the past, the selection of sites and artists, and the context of the era. He also discusses how changing societal values affect public memorials, noting works that are missing or relocated, and how they have been maintained, altered, neglected, or even vandalized. Maps and appendices provide details on locations, artists, inscriptions, and more.
Robert Spalding lived in Seattle for fifteen years. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master of Arts degree from Purdue University. He is also the author of The Essential Guide to Touring Washington Wineries.
Monumental Seattle is paperback, 6″ x 9″, 220 pages, and lists for $22.95. It is also available through bookstores nationwide.
Have you ever wondered why authors write the books they do?
For Robert Spalding, it was a robust sense of curiosity. Driving past Denny Park, he noticed a statue he had seen before, but this time decided to take a closer look. Aware of the park’s name and the Denny family’s significance in Seattle history, he assumed the sculpture would memorialize either Arthur or David Denny. To his great surprise, it didn’t. The bust was of a person Spalding had never heard of—Reverend Dr. Mark Matthews. The incongruity piqued his interest, and he began researching monuments and markers scattered throughout the city.
For three years, Spalding spent his lunch hours at the Seattle Central Library, diligently researching the city’s heritage markers. What he learned—starting with the original totem pole installed in Pioneer Place in 1899—was fascinating. Writing in his spare time for another three years, he completed his manuscript—one that included the story of Reverend Dr. Mark Matthews—and became Monumental Seattle, his second book—available in bookstores soon.