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Whatcom Falls Park

Whatcom Falls Park



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Whatcom Falls Park is located in Bellingham, Washington, where a cascading waterfalls is its centerpiece. Other attractions include a fish hatchery, an extensive trails system, tennis and basketball courts, and a special zone for aquatic adventurers.Whatcom Falls Park spreads over a 241-acre tract of land in Washington State. A spectacular view of the Whatcom Falls may be found there.Another interesting spot is “the Whirlpool,” where swimmers can leap from a 60-foot cliff into the cold waters below. There are also separate picnic areas.Whatcom Falls Park was established in 1908 by the Young Men's Commercial Club. The park’s ownership was transferred to the City of Bellingham in 1914, although only half of them were paid to the club.At about the same time, a group of women formed the Whatcom Falls Park Club. Further improvements were made through private funds.The park was completely purchased by the city and merged with the city park system during the 1930s. The fish hatchery was built in 1936 using federal funds, and additional help was received from the State Game Commission and the Whatcom County Sportsmen's Association. In 1939, The New Deal Work's Progress Administration transferred the sandstone arches from the Pike Building to the park and built a stone bridge, which continues to be a major attraction there.


Bellingham, Washington: Whatcom Falls Pump Track

After a day of riding the Galbraith trails in Bellingham, we headed to the pumptrack at Whatcom Falls Park to check it out. Although the surface could have used some watering and was dry and a bit dusty, the Bellingham pumptrack is still a fun time.

Built in the spring of 2017, the pump track is located in Bellingham’s Whatcom Falls Park, located north of Galbraith. The park is one of the nicest city parks we’ve seen in recent memory, offering a wide range of recreational activities on 241 acres of land. In addition to four sets of waterfalls, there are quite a few options things to do in addition to exploring the trails.

When we arrived the small parking lot was overflowed with cars, so we continued along the main drive until we reached Lake Whatcom Park. Parking there, I made my way back to the pumptrack. Fortunately, there are dedicated cycle paths that are separated from the roads, and it made for a pleasant ride. With the option to riding an amazing trail system from your front door, it’s no wonder Bellingham is becoming the next mountain biking town.

A lap around the track starts from the centrally located starting hill, not unsimilar from those found in an NBL track, though scaled down significantly. It is just big enough though, as the mainline starts off with a nicely spaced set of rollers that take a minimal amount of pump to float over, and momentum is gained again in the first right turn.

The outer line is the easiest to run and flow, with open turns and well-spaced features that allow riders of a wide range of skills and experience to ride. A number of other lines splinter off and can be transferred in and out of. Even dry and dusty, it was riding well, and it one of the best public pump tracks we’ve ridden to date. If you’re pitching ideas for a local track, it’s a good one to reference.

Resources:

and a covered jump park (private) in Bellingham! WTF, this place is amazing.

Find it

Location: Whatcom Falls Pumptrack, Whatcom Falls Park, Bellingham, WA 98229


HistoryLink.org

On Thursday afternoon, June 10, 1999, a 16-inch fuel line owned by the Olympic Pipe Line Company ruptures in Bellingham, spilling 277,200 gallons of gasoline into Hanna and Whatcom creeks. The volatile fuel explodes, killing three youths: Liam Wood, 18, and Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas, both age 10. The massive fireball sends a plume of smoke 30,000 feet into the air, visible from Anacortes to Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

The Sequence of Events

At 3:25 p.m. on June 10, 1999, the Olympic Pipe Line Company was pumping gasoline thorough a 16-inch pipeline from a refinery in Ferndale, south to terminals in Seattle and Portland, when a pressure relief valve failed. The resulting pressure surge led to a catastrophic rupture in the line traversing Whatcom Falls Park, and sent 277,200 gallons of highly volatile gasoline into Hanna Creek and Whatcom Creek, which flows through downtown Bellingham into Bellingham Bay.

At 4:35 p.m. an Olympic Pipeline field worker who happened to be in the Whatcom Creek area called the company’s command center in Renton, reporting a strong odor of gasoline. Local residents and businesses also started calling the Whatcom County 911 Dispatch Center reporting the strong odor of gasoline in the vicinity of Whatcom Creek.

At about 4:45 p.m., Bellingham Fire Department Hazardous Materials Teams, sent to investigate, found copious quantities of gasoline flowing down the creek toward Bellingham Bay. The water was pink and the fumes overwhelming. The Bellingham Fire Department and Police Department immediately began evacuating the area and setting up barricades. The Bellingham Fire Department notified Olympic Pipe Line there was gasoline flowing down Whatcom Creek toward the city. But it was too late.

At 4:55 p.m., the gasoline vapors exploded, creating a river of fire from the rupture site near the Whatcom Falls Water Treatment Station, one and a half miles down the creek, to Interstate-5. The massive fireball sent a plume of smoke 30,000 feet into the air, visible from Anacortes to Vancouver B. C. Dense black smoke caused the closure of Interstate-5 for more than an hour. Fearing the fire would continue flowing down the creek into downtown Bellingham, police officers began evacuating businesses. Gasoline migrated into the city’s sewer system, and the vapors were at explosive levels for an hour. The U. S. Coast Guard, concerned the fuel could ignite dock pilings and vessels, closed Bellingham Bay for a one-mile radius from the mouth of Whatcom Creek.

The Victims

The first victim was Liam Gordon Wood, age 18, who was fly fishing in Whatcom Creek when the rupture occurred. According to Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel, Wood was overcome by noxious fumes, and fell into the creek and drowned prior to the explosion.

The other two victims, Wade King, 10, and Stephen Tsiorvas, 10, schoolmates at Roosevelt Elementary School, were playing north of the Hanna and Whatcom Creek confluence when the explosion occurred. The boys survived the blast but suffered second and third degree burns over 90 percent of their bodies. They were found immediately and flown to the intensive-care burn unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Tragically, the boys died the following day, on June 11, 1999.

Astonishingly, the explosion and fire caused no additional deaths and injuries were few. By 6:30 p.m., firefighters managed to get the major blazes under control, and by 7:00 p.m., the black smoke had largely dissipated. Fortunately, the fire did not travel west from Interstate-5, and this saved downtown Bellingham. The inferno, estimated to have reached 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, caused a high-voltage power line and two substations to be shut down, disrupting electrical service to about 58,000 Bellingham customers for several hours.

Damage to Property

Most of the collateral property damage was caused by explosions, which broke windows in homes and businesses and leveled a house on Valencia Street near the creek. The fire was mostly contained in and along the creek bed, leaving the greenbelt charred and blackened. Authorities were astounded that the damage was so light.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources crews assisted Bellingham firefighters in extinguishing the remaining fires in Whatcom Falls Park and helped to evaluate the immediate hazards to officials and search teams from burned trees, debris, and fuel vapors.

The water treatment plant and pump station at Whatcom Falls sustained extensive damage. The treatment plant adds chlorine to the water pumped from Lake Whatcom, Bellingham’s main water supply. The fuel spill occurred about 150 feet in front of the facility, and the subsequent explosion shattered all the windows and blew the doors off the building. Ken Thomas, assistant director of the Bellingham Public Works Department told The Bellingham Herald that for all practical purposes, the pump station had been destroyed. He said the brick and concrete shell was salvageable, but all the control systems, and even the fire extinguishers melted in the fire.

In addition to damaging the station’s five huge water pumps, the blast also damaged chemical feeding equipment. Fortunately, the tanks holding toxic chlorine were undamaged. By the following morning, two of the damaged pumps were temporarily on-line and cranes had arrived to lift out the burned-out motors for the other three pumps. To comply with the law regarding safe drinking water, public works employees began manually feeding chemicals into the water treatment system. Bellingham residents were advised to conserve water until all the water pumps were repaired and back on-line.

The Bellingham Fire Department’s investigation determined that Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas ignited the gasoline vapor from the ruptured pipeline when they inadvertently lit a butane fireplace lighter near the spill in Whatcom Falls Park. The boys had been using the lighter to set off fireworks outside the park earlier in the day. Bellingham Fire Chief Mike Leigh gave his view that the boys were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Boys Saved Bellingham

In a twist of fate, King and Tsiorvas became unwitting heroes. In a statement to the news media on June 18, 1999, Bellingham Mayor Mark Asmendson said, “The cause of the fire was the fuel released from the Olympic pipeline. The fact that it was ignited was inevitable. With the thousands and thousands of gallons of fuel that were proceeding down Whatcom Creek, had the ignition not taken place where it did and at the time it did, the damage to this community and the loss of life would have been far greater. These boys completely, without notice or any awareness, were involved in an action that ended up being heroic for the city of Bellingham.”

Mayor Asmendson further stated “Despite the horror and sadness to these children, we, as a community, are fortunate [the fire] occurred at the time and the place it did because the alternatives and more time would have only made it worse” (The Bellingham Herald).

Criminal Violations and Criminal Negligence

On October 8, 2002, The National Transportation Safety Board, after a three-year investigation, ruled that the Olympic pipeline explosion was caused by a cascading series of events rather than a single catastrophic failure of the fuel pipe. The NTSB cited damage caused in 1994 by IMCO General Construction Company while conducting excavation work at nearby Whatcom Falls Water Treatment Plant, the failure of the Olympic Pipe Line Company to identify or repair the damage, a faulty computer system which failed to respond to repeated indications that pressure was building up inside the pipeline, a faulty pressure relief valve and failure to adequately train its employees.

A criminal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency resulted in a seven-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Seattle in September 2001. The indictment charged Olympic Pipe Line, and Equilon Pipeline, which had run the Olympic in 1999, with five felony violations of the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act and two misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act. Included in the indictment were three Olympic employees, a vice-president/manager, a supervisor, and the controller at the time of the accident.

On July 28, 1999, the parents of Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Whatcom County Superior Court naming the Olympic Pipe Line Company, the Equilon Pipeline Company and three Olympic employees as defendants. On April 10, 2002, in an out-of-court settlement, Olympic and Equilon agreed to pay the families of King and Tsiorvas $75 million. The Wood family reached a separate, undisclosed settlement with the companies.

On December 11, 2002, Olympic Pipe Line pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court, Seattle, to one felony count under the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act and two Clean Water Act misdemeanors. Equilon Pipeline entered no-contest pleas to the same violations. Under the plea agreement, the companies agreed to pay a record $112 million to settle all federal criminal fines and most civil claims against them. According to U. S. Attorney John McKay, the pleas marked the first time a pipeline company had been convicted under the 1979 Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act.

After this terrible tragedy, Representative Kelli Linville (D-Bellingham) sponsored a bill that would give the state responsibility for regulating intrastate pipelines and improve pipeline safety. On March 28, 2000, during a ceremony at Bellingham City Hall, Governor Gary Locke signed into law the Washington Pipeline Safety Act (House Bill 2420), which allows the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission to inspect 2,500 miles of intrastate pipelines and oversee the state’s pipeline-safety program.

Governor Locke said the law "sets us on a clear path toward stronger and more effective regulations of pipelines and better prevention of accidents" (Seattle P-I). Annual fees levied against the pipeline operators pay for the program, which costs about $1 million a year.

Olympic Pipeline fire, Bellingham, June 10, 1999

Olympic pipeline fire, Bellingham, June 10, 1999

Smoke over Whatcom Falls Park on the morning after the Olympic Pipeline fire, June 11, 1999

Area of pipeline fire of June 10, 1999, Whatcom Falls Park, Bellingham, 1994

Courtesy United States Geological Survey

Aerial photo of Whatcom Falls Park, area of 1999 pipeline fire, Bellingham, 1998

Courtesy United States Geological Survey

Area of 1999 pipeline fire, Whatcom Falls Park, Bellingham, 2003

Water treatment plant and pumping station, Whatcom Falls Park, Bellingham, 2003

Sources:

John Harris and Cathy Logg, “Gas Pipeline Explodes,” The Bellingham Herald, June 11, 1999, p. 1 Cathy Logg, “Explosion Toll Mounting,” Ibid., June 15, 1999, p. 1 Khurram Saeed, “Two Boys Who Died Are Heroes, Says Mayor,” Ibid., June 18, 1999, p. 1 Cathy Logg, “Olympic First Blast Blamed on Outside Source,” Ibid., August 27, 1999, p. 1 Scott Sunde, “Blast Ignites River of Fire,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 11, 1999, p. 1 Ellis E. Conklin, “Boys Who Died Were “Unwitting Heroes” in Pipeline Fire,” Ibid., June 18, 1999, p. A-14 “Victim’s Families Want Answers, Sue Company,” Ibid., July 29, 1999, p. B-1 Paul Shukovosky, “Criminal Indictments in Deadly Pipeline Explosion,” Ibid., September 14, 2001, p. A-1 Scott Sunde, “Not-Guilty Pleas in Pipeline Blast Case,” Ibid., September 28, 2001, p. B-1 Scott Sunde, “2 Companies Fined $7.9 Million Each in Fatal Bellingham Blast,” Ibid., June 6, 1999, p. B-5 Tracy Johnson, “$75 Million Settlement Families of 2 Boys Killed in Pipeline Fire Promise to Continue Pushing for Safety,” Ibid., April 11, 2002, p. A-1 M. L. Lyke, “Sigh of Relief in Bellingham Pipeline Report Brings a Sense of Closure to Victim’s Families,” Ibid., October 9, 2002, p. A-8 Charles Pope, “Pipeline Explosion Blamed on Negligence,” Ibid., October 9, 2002, p. A-1 Tracy Johnson and Vanessa Ho, “In Deal, Olympic Pipe Line 3 Workers Admit Guilt in Blast,” Ibid., December 12, 2002, p. A-1 Jack Broom, Jim Brunner, Janet Burkitt, and Keiko Morris, “3 Die, Including 2 Boys, When Fireball Erupts in Bellingham Gas-line Explosion,” The Seattle Times, June 11, 1999, p. A-1 Brier Dudley, “Olympic Pipe Line Hit with Record Fine,” Ibid., June 3, 2000, p. A-1 Steve Miletich, “Olympic to Pay $10 Million Fine,” Ibid., June 19, 2001, p. A-1 Mike Carter, “Families Say $75 million Will Help Push Pipeline Safety,” Ibid., April 11, 2002, p. A-1 Katherine Pfleger, “NTSB Faults Pipeline Firm," Ibid., October 9, 2002, p. B-1 Steve Miletich, “Pipeline blast Plea Deal Crafted,” Ibid., November 1, 2002, p. B-1 Steve Miletich, “Pipeline Blast Results in $100 Million Criminal Fine,” Ibid., December 11, 2002, p. A-1 Maureen O’Hagan, “Pipeline Agreement Falls Short, Families Say,” Ibid., December 12, 2002, p. B-1 “Criminal Charges Boost Pipeline Safety,” The Tacoma News Tribune, December 13, 2002, p. B-12 "Governor Signs Pipeline Safety Act," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 29, 2000, p. B-2 "Law Boosts Pipeline Safety in State," The Seattle Times, March 29, 2000 Kevin Blocker, “Trial over Pipeline Rupture Stays on West Side for Now,” Spokesman Review, March 27, 2002, p. B-3.


Total Height

The Total Height listed for the waterfall represents the difference in elevation from the top of the uppermost drop, to the bottom of the lowermost drop of the waterfall, including all stretches of interstitial stream in between. Stream between two tiers of a waterfall is counted in its overall height regardless of whether or not that section of the stream would be legitimately considered a waterfall on its own right, were it to be isolated. Waterfalls with only one drop will of have the height of only the single drop listed here.


East Whatcom Falls Park

The east side of the park (east of the Stone Bridge) is home to most of the park facilities. From the lower parking lot off Lakeway Drive, you have access to a playground, restrooms, and covered picnic shelters. Walk or drive to the upper lot (Electric Avenue) for access to basketball and tennis courts and a bike pump track.

Fish Hatchery and Derby Pond

Walkers can head north along Whatcom Creek to reach the fish hatchery. Trout are raised here to feed Washington state lakes, streams and ponds — including nearby Derby Pond. Watch for ducks at the peaceful pond before continuing north to check out the old railroad trestle.

Railroad Trestle

Built in 1916, a towering train trestle still stands over the creek north of Derby Pond. It once linked Lake Whatcom’s Larson Mill to Bellingham Bay. Imagine trains chugging overhead as you pass beneath the towering structure. Cut from the shores of Lake Whatcom, timber was floated to the mill and transferred by train to the bay.

Bloedel Donovan Park

Continuing north from the trestle, you can cross Electric Avenue into Bloedel Donovan Park. The lakeside park provides both boat launch and swimming beach access to Lake Whatcom, along with plenty of parking. Lake Whatcom is the source of Whatcom Creek and Bellingham’s drinking water. With plenty of picnic tables and BBQs, its a great place to kick back for lunch in the sun.


Day Two

1. Enjoy Local Art

Whatcom County is full of unique art and artists. The art collections range from the Big Rock Sculpture Garden featuring over 37 different pieces tucked away above Lake Whatcom to Western Washington University’s outdoor sculptures, which is one of the top ten university collections in the entire United States.

Bonus Activity: Mural Artist Gretchen Leggitt

From small designs like the Kombucha Town’s mural in Downtown Bellingham to the largest mural in Washington State located on Puget Sound Energy’s building that spans the length of two football fields, Gretchen Leggitt is leaving her mark on Bellingham and Washington State. Take a walking tour of Bellingham or explore her art virtually!

    : 1622 N State St., Bellingham 915 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham 113 E Holly St., Bellingham 207 Unity St., Bellingham 210 E Chestnut St., Bellingham

2. Explore Downtown Bellingham’s Art District

There is so much to do in Bellingham’s downtown arts district! Start in the center at the Whatcom Museum with their latest exhibit , “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” by Matika Wilbur, a photographer from the Tulalip and Swinomish Tribes.

After, head down Bay Street to the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, one of Whatcom County’s most popular indoor attractions. The SPARK Museum is still doing their signature demonstration involving the biggest lightning machine in the country, a Tesla coil called The MegaZapper. MegaZapper shows currently take place every Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

3. Downtown Dining

We are known for our agriculture scene and farm-to-table lifestyle and you will want to savor it! We are proud of our many businesses that are demonstrating positive public safety and are currently open.

Wear your mask to help our businesses stay open! Please be patient with your servers, as they are doing their best to keep everyone safe.


GALBRAITH MOUNTAIN

Galbraith mountain is a world class mountain destination located within riding distance of downtown Bellingham. Over 65 miles of singletrack that winds through 3,000 acres overlooking the city and Bellingham Bay. The mountain is accessible to all non motorized use but all of the trails are built and maintained by the WMBC. Because of the quantity of trails, the mountain can handle 100&rsquos of hikers, runnners, horse riders and bikers during the course of the day without trail users feeling like the trails are busy!

To better understand usage on Galbraith, we are about to be implement the TRAFx infared counters at strategic points around the mountain &ndash which will better help the WMBC track numbers of users along with times of usage. There will be two static counters and one that will be moved around during the seasons.

The mountain is currently owned by a private landowner so we are guests on the mountain. The WMBC has over 30 years of history stewarding the mountain to keep it open and growing while working with various landowners. Access to the mountain is never guaranteed but current and past landowners have been favorable to working with the WMBC to allow trail Access. There is a great deal of costs involved in keeping the mountain open including insurance and trail maintenance so we ask that if you love riding Galbraith trails to please donate to the WMBC to make sure this mountain never goes away.

Galbraith has the perfect topography to create a huge network of trails with varying skill levels. The mountain is not too steep and offers the perfect pitch for descents. Trails vary from fast and flowy XC trails to directional jump lines for advanced riders. No matter what skill level you are, Galbraith has a trail that will put a smile on your face. The mountain has two access points, the north and the south entrances. For longer XC loops try the north side entrance and for more jump and freeride lines use the south entrance and head to the top of the mountain. The mountain features trail kiosks at both entrances so you can see where the trails are at but since there are so many trail options we highly recommend buying a Galbraith map to help you navigate.

The WMBC has two options for maps of Galbraith. You can purchase a waterproof paper Galbraith Printed Map here or you can download our interaction PDF map that works with your phone GPS to show you exactly where you are on the map, here: Galbraith PDF Map A portion of the sales of both maps goes directly to the WMBC to help maintain and build new trails on Galbraith.

There are two main points to access Galbraith, the northside or the southside.

Northside: The northside accesses the mountain at Birch St. from downtown Bellingham off of Lakeway Dr. with a parking lot and on street parking or park in Whatcom Falls Park and ride to the entrance. The Miranda trail gets you onto the mountain and from there you can access a number of trails options.

Southside: The southside is accessed via Samish Way with a parking lot directly across the street from Galbraith Lane road. Park here or at the Lake Padden parking area near the dog park. We are currently fundraising to enlarge this parking lot . Our goal is to greatly increase safety for all trail users (especially after-school bike clubs), road cyclists on Samish Way, and drivers entering and exiting the Galbraith parking lot.

When you go up Galbraith Lane, go straight towards the pipeline road and through the yellow gate. You will access trails like Last Call, New Issues and Lost Giants. Access to the tower road is now via Last Call to Gate and Switch or Last Call to Dog Patch.


Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham, Washington, in Whatcom county, is 80 miles N of Seattle, Washington.

Bellingham History

The name of this area was derived from the bay on which it is situated. George Vancouver, who landed here in June 1792, named the bay after Sir William Bellingham who worked for the Royal Navy as a controller of the storekeeper's account. The earliest white settlers arrived in 1854. In November 1903, the four towns around Bellingham Bay, Whatcom, Sehome, Bellingham, and Fairhaven, were consolidated and incorporated as Bellingham.

Bellingham and nearby Attractions

  • Whatcom Falls Park
  • American Museum of Radio and Electricity
  • Bellingham Railway Museum
  • Larrabee State Park
  • Lake Whatcom

Things To Do In Bellingham

Those interested in outdoor recreation can visit the Whatcom Falls Park which encompasses the Whatcom Creek Gorge. It has many miles of walking trails and four sets of waterfalls. Visitors can enjoy fishing, swimming, and hiking. There are also several interesting museums in the area which are dedicated to various subjects such as local history, art, the railways, etc. Skiing is another activity which can be enjoyed at Mount Baker Ski Area.

Bellingham Transportation

Bellingham International Airport is nearby.

Bellingham Higher Education

Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, and Northwest Indian College provide higher education.


HistoryLink.org

American Indians had lived in the Bellingham Bay area for thousands of years. The Lummi are a Coast Salish-speaking people who lived around the mouth of the Nooksack River, along the Whatcom Creek, and on the San Juan Islands. They survived by fishing, especially for salmon, and by catching shellfish. Along with the other Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest, they developed fishing techniques that became widely used, such as the reef net, which gently guides salmon into a shallow net, and the weir, which traps salmon behind a wooden latticework fence that blocks the mouth of an estuary or stream.

In 1855, the Lummi Chief Chow’it’sut (?-1861) and other tribal leaders signed the Treaty of Point Elliott, which ceded most of the tribe’s aboriginal lands to the United States in exchange for a 15,000-acre reservation on a peninsula between Bellingham Bay and Lummi Bay. During the nineteenth century, Lummi workers from the reservation ferried goods and passengers up and down the area’s rivers and streams. They also helped white settlers build mills and houses and they worked in the logging industry.

Bellingham's Logging Industry

In December 1852, two investors from California -- Captain Henry Roeder (1824-1902), a German-born Ohioan who had earned his title as the master of a schooner on Lake Erie, and Russell V. Peabody of San Francisco -- came to Olympia, Washington, by canoe from Portland. They’d gone to Portland to start a fishing company, but when they got there they learned of a better opportunity: A fire had nearly destroyed San Francisco, and whoever managed to supply the lumber to rebuild it was going to get very, very rich. So, Roeder and Peabody headed upriver hoping to find a waterfall on which to build a water-powered sawmill.

In Olympia, they met the Lummi Chief Chow’it’sut (?-1861), who directed them to the falls at Whatcom (which meant “noisy, rumbling water”). The investors took the chief’s advice, hired a pair of Lummi guides, and kept traveling north. When they reached the falls on Bellingham Bay, they found thousands of massive Doug-fir and cedar trees along the banks of streams powerful enough to turn the mill’s heavy waterwheels. It was the perfect site. According to legend, Roeder and Peabody returned to Chow’it’sut, who gave them the falls and the timber around them. He also sent Indian workers to help build and staff the new mill.

By the time the mill was built, though, the reconstruction of San Francisco was well underway and lumber prices had fallen. Most lumber the Whatcom mill produced went north instead, where it helped to build the booming town of Victoria, British Columbia.

The Washington Colony

Fire destroyed this first Whatcom mill in 1873, and in 1881 Roeder and the Peabody heirs gave the site to a group of utopians from Kansas who promised to rebuild the mill along with a wharf, a church, a school, and 50 houses. The colonists were eventually able to do what Roeder never had -- in 1883, they delivered the area’s first large shipment of lumber to San Francisco -- but their settlement, the Washington Colony, met with little success. This is partly because it never hosted more than 25 families and partly because the Peabody heirs squabbled so much that the colonists were never free to do what they pleased on their land.

Soon the colony became paralyzed by lawsuits and mired in debt. The founders tried to solve this problem by selling stock to new investors such as J. H. Stenger, who eventually became the sole owner of the Colony Mill and other interests. In revenge, two irate colonists blew up Stenger's house with a crude bomb made out of a gunpowder cartridge and a five-gallon oil can. By 1885, the settlement was abandoned.

Advances in Logging

Lumber remained one of the leading industries in the Bellingham Bay area for nearly three-quarters of a century. By the 1880s, steam power made it possible to build mills away from streams and closer to the timber stands themselves. The enormous Bloedel-Donovan Lumber Mill processed timber right along the shores of Lake Whatcom.

Ten years later, steam-powered logging railroads made it possible to get the hugest logs from the inland mills to the Bellingham Bay for shipment. The region would have to wait for a major passenger and freight railway line, but these logging trains meant that builders all over the world could use Whatcom County lumber.

Bellingham Coal

Coal mining began in the Bellingham area in 1852, when William R. Pattle, the area’s first white settler, discovered coal on his land. The Pattle mine didn’t stay open for long and never made any money, but it inspired other would-be coal magnates to give mining a try.

Henry Roeder discovered a 17-foot-thick seam of coal on his land, mined 60 tons of it, sold it in San Francisco for $16 a ton, then sold the tract to the California-based Bellingham Bay Coal Company. That firm soon opened the Sehome mine (named after Sea-hom, a Samish leader and the father-in-law of its manager). The Sehome mine became for a time the largest employer in the Territory, and the town that grew up around it contained a company store, miners' houses, saloons, and boarding houses. Despite difficult conditions -- tunnel collapses, fires, and floods -- the Sehome mine ran for two decades. It closed in 1878, and 20 families stayed in the town of Sehome.

In 1856, the U.S. Army sent Captain George E. Pickett (1825-1875), later famous for leading the famously disastrous Confederate charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, to build a fort on the bay to protect the Sehome mine against Indian raiders from the north.

Another mine opened in 1891 at Blue Canyon on the upper end of Lake Whatcom. The Blue Canyon mine operated for 25 years until 1917. Its most important customer was the U.S. Navy, which used the coal to fuel ships in the North Pacific fleet. In 1895, the Blue Canyon mine exploded, killing 23 miners in one of the worst industrial accident in the state’s history.

The Fraser River Gold Rush

Bellinghamians also sought to get rich from other kinds of mining. In 1858, prospectors found gold on the banks of the Fraser River in British Columbia -- and Whatcom was sitting in the middle of the shortcut from the ocean to the gold. Thousands of would-be miners swarmed into the town and camped on the beach while they waited for road-builders to finish the Whatcom Trail to Canada.

Unfortunately, by the time the trail was finished, so were the Fraser River gold-fields: they had moved upriver and east to the Cariboo Basin. Besides, the Canadian government had begun to require that gold-seekers stop in Victoria to obtain supplies and permits. So, as quickly as it had arrived, the Bellingham Bay gold boom evaporated.

Hoping for a Railroad

By the 1880s, it seemed clear that, in order to really prosper, the Bellingham Bay area needed a railroad. Local boosters hoped to make one of the Bay towns the terminus of a transcontinental railway line. As early as 1854, when the U.S. Congress authorized the Corps of Topographic Engineers to survey all potential rail routes from east to west, Bellingham Bay settlers speculated that the area could win the economic and cultural investment that a transcontinental railroad would bring. But it wasn’t until 1864, when Congress chartered the Northern Pacific Railroad from Lake Superior to Puget Sound, that boosters had something real to pin their hopes on. The Northern Pacific dashed those hopes when, in 1873, it chose Tacoma to be its terminus.

Then, in the 1880s, the Bellingham Bay Improvement Company and the developer Nelson Bennett promoted real-estate speculation around the bay in anticipation of the selection of Fairhaven to be the western headquarters of the transcontinental Great Northern Railway. Developers put up buildings in downtown Fairhaven so quickly that they forgot to leave space for alleys behind them. But the railroad went to Seattle instead. In the end, it was smaller companies like the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia and the Fairhaven & Southern that connected communities on the bay to Canada, Seattle, and the logging camps and tiny towns in the hinterlands.

Two Towns, One City

By 1890, there were four towns on Bellingham Bay: Whatcom (now Bellingham’s Old Town district), Sehome (Bellingham’s downtown), Bellingham (near Boulevard Park), and Fairhaven (today’s Fairhaven neighborhood). That year, a developer from Fairhaven bought and incorporated tiny Bellingham. A year after that, Whatcom and Sehome merged to become New Whatcom, which changed its name back to Whatcom in 1901. Whatcom and Fairhaven shared a street grid and an electric streetcar system. Although some Fairhaven citizens urged restraint, fearing that the larger Whatcom would swallow their tiny town and strangle its businesses, as the towns grew it became clear to most that consolidation was the best way to ensure that they would prosper.

If there was going to be a new city, boosters decided, it needed a new name. This decision was a practical one: if Whatcom had tried to annex Fairhaven or vice versa, two-thirds of the annexed city’s voters would have to approve the merger, but if the two consolidated under a new name, only half of each town’s voters had to give their consent. Consolidation-boosters proposed the name Bellingham as a compromise (one snide newspaper editor suggested that “Whathaven” might be a better choice), and in 1903, the men of Fairhaven and Whatcom voted 2,163 to 596 to become the city of Bellingham. The new city was ready to face the twentieth century.

Salmon and the Canneries

Legend has it that farmers and gardeners could catch the Chinook salmon they used as fertilizer simply by sticking a pitchfork into a stream and flipping forkfuls of fish onto their fields. The salmon industry really began to boom around 1900, when companies figured out how to can and ship all the tons of fish they caught in their traps. Fish traps were wire nets that blocked salmon runs and forced the fish into big underwater pens. One fish trap could hold about 30 tons of fish. Workers filled boats with the trapped fish and return to the cannery, where they would clean the fish, pack it into sheet-metal cans, and prepare it for shipment.

From 1900 until about 1945, canneries such as the Pacific-American Fisheries, the Bellingham Canning Company, and the Puget Sound Canning Company were the area’s largest employers. The Pacific-American Fisheries cannery was the largest structure in Washington and the largest Pacific salmon processing-plant in the world.

Bellingham's Immigrant Workers

Many immigrants worked in these canneries (as well as for companies that served the fishing industry, such as the Pacific Sheet Metal Works and the Fairhaven Shipyard). They came from Sweden, Norway, Slovenia, and Italy to work on ships and in the canning factories.

Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino workers also worked in the canneries. They often did the dirtiest, smelliest jobs like gutting and cleaning the fish. And they weren’t welcome in Bellingham itself: They slept in a segregated bunkhouse near the cannery. The racist attitudes that Asian immigrant workers faced sometimes turned violent. During the 1880s anti-Chinese violence flared across the West and in Bellingham, in 1885, civic leaders campaigned to drive Chinese workers away from the area. When they succeeded, the towns celebrated with a torchlight parade.

In 1907, a mob of several hundred white workers went to mills and boardinghouses along the Bellingham waterfront in search of the hundred or so East Indians who worked in the lumber mills. These men were furious because they thought East Indian workers were taking their jobs away by agreeing to work longer hours for lower pay.

The white men beat all the Asians they found and ran them out of town. The next day, the remaining East Indians in the city fled. Then anonymous letters began to circulate, warning that the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino workers who stayed in Bellingham would meet the same fate. There was never another riot in the city, but the Asian population declined anyway. Canneries began to use a mechanical fish-cleaning device that eliminated jobs that many Asian workers had held. The Asian population declined from 600 in 1900 to 240 in 1910 to 69 in 1920.

Education was always an important part of the identity of the four towns that would one day make up Bellingham. In fact, the first thing the Whatcom County commissioners did at their inaugural meeting in 1854 was to levy a school tax. (The federal government required each territory it created to make provision for a public school system.) In 1890, the town of Sehome built the Northwest’s first high school. That first year, it served 33 pupils.

But the most important school in Whatcom County was the New Whatcom Normal School. In 1895, the school Location Commission chose a drained marsh on the top of Sehome Hill to build a new normal school, the state’s third. The purpose of a normal school, according to the state legislature, was “to train teachers in the art of instructing and governing in the public schools” (Gregoire). It gave young women and a few young men the training they needed to be teachers in the rural communities around the Bellingham Bay.

The New Whatcom Normal School started in a single building called Old Main that was completed in 1899. That’s where students went to class, studied, and ate their meals. They didn’t need to stay at the Normal School for long -- it took only a year to train to become an elementary school teacher. But by 1933, state law required that teachers have at least three years of college, and the Normal School’s curriculum had changed so much that the state granted it the power to award bachelor’s degrees in education.

The school became the Western Washington College of Education. After World War II, the college boomed. Soldiers who might never have considered going to college before the war could suddenly use the GI Bill to pay their tuition and living expenses while they continued their education. By 1947, students at Western Washington could get bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and English as well as in Education. The school continued to expand, and in 1961 it became Western Washington State College. It’s been Western Washington University since 1977. Today, Western Washington is a highly ranked public university with about 13,000 undergraduate students in many majors.

A Thriving Town

During the early part of the twentieth century, Bellingham boomed. Railroad speculators built many ornate and imposing buildings in downtown Fairhaven. Bankers and merchants built homes and office buildings in Sehome. As the canneries and lumber mills prospered, the streets of the Bellingham Bay towns came to look more and more established and respectable.

In 1891, local architect Alfred Lee (1843–1933) designed the Whatcom City Hall in the Second Empire style. It was a tall, three-dimensional building with a mansard roof and a dramatic clock tower. (The clocks themselves didn’t tell time at first. The depression of 1893 meant that there was no money to complete the interior of the building or to buy working clock parts, so the city simply fixed the clock hands at 7:00.) In 1939 Bellingham built a larger, more modern city hall on Lottie Street. Since then, the Old City Hall building has housed the Whatcom Museum of History & Art.

In 1903, Fairhaven got a grant to build the area’s first Carnegie-funded library on 12th Street. That library still stands today. In 1906, Bellingham became one of only two cities in the country to win a second Carnegie grant. The downtown-Bellingham Carnegie library opened in 1908. It sat on a high, rocky hill, and in order to get to the front door patrons had to climb 57 steep steps. Almost immediately, library boosters started looking around for a new site for the city’s central library, but they didn’t get one until 1951. Two years after that, the Carnegie building was torn down and the hill regraded.

In 1912, British architect F. Stanley Piper began work on the Bellingham National Bank, a five-story Chicago-style building that was dramatically different from the heavy-looking Victorian and Romanesque buildings railroad speculators had built. Until the Bellingham Herald finished its building in 1926, the National Bank building was the largest and most architecturally fashionable building in the city. It made clear to residents and visitors alike that Bellingham was a place to be reckoned with.

Post-Industrial Bellingham

By the mid-1950s, extractive industries like lumber, fisheries, and coal no longer formed the center of Bellingham’s economy and identity. Salmon stocks and timber supplies were depleted. The sawmills, shingle mills, and canneries had closed. The commercial fisheries on the waterfront disappeared. The downtown core, built around businesses that served mill and cannery workers and their families, declined too.

City boosters thought that they could save Bellingham by attracting a new, multi-lane highway that would run along the waterfront and make it easy for travelers, workers, and customers to visit the businesses that remained in the city. They also hoped that a modern highway would encourage new factories and other kinds of businesses to move to Bellingham.

The Idea of I-5

Bellingham boosters had always known that transportation networks were essential to their town’s survival, and in the 1950s they lobbied for their preferred route for the new highway, Interstate 5, with the same intensity that their predecessors had lobbied for railroads and interurban electric rail lines. They wanted to be sure that all traffic between Seattle and Vancouver had to drive right through the center of their city, not around it.

The old highway, the cramped and crowded Route 99, had made it easy to get to the town’s Central Business District and industrial outskirts. But as the city’s local industries declined in the 1940s and 1950s, it lost its clout in highway-building negotiations. State road planners saw that a good deal of industrial and residential development was happening outside city limits (and outside Bellingham’s tax base).

They planned a highway whose interchanges served such suburban enterprises as the Bellingham Mall (1960s) instead of firms on the Bellingham waterfront such as Pacific American Fisheries, the Puget Sound Pulp and Timber Company Mill, the Squalicum Creek industrial area, and Bellingham Coal Mine. The route's placement and interchanges then encouraged the development of suburban places at the expense of the city they’d once relied on. But this didn't prevent people in Bellingham from losing homes and businesses to the road, as it carved apart neighborhoods that people had lived in for decades.

Still, the final route spared the neighborhood that had once been downtown Fairhaven. (The route the Bellingham boosters proposed would have required the roadbuilders to bulldoze the whole place.) Even so, by the early 1970s that neighborhood, like so many others across the country, was crumbling. Abandoned buildings and vacant lots lined its streets. People didn’t feel safe there, so they stayed away.

The New Bellingham

Neighborhood and community groups decided to try to save the city they loved. Because Fairhaven had been the site of a speculative frenzy in the 1890s, when people thought it would become the terminus of a transcontinental railroad, it had many beautiful old buildings. And ever since the imposing Fairhaven Hotel had been torn down and replaced by a filling station in 1953, the people of the neighborhood had been wary of “improvements” that required them to destroy what made the place unique.

By the 1970s, the rest of the country had begun to come around to this way of thinking. Even developers were beginning to see how important it was to rescue and reuse old buildings. In Fairhaven, they built tourist-oriented shops and restaurants in some of the most distinctive old buildings, like the huge Mason Block. Preservationists worked to save others, such as the Carnegie Library and the Kulshan Club, once Fairhaven’s leading men’s club. Finally, the federal government added slightly more than three blocks of downtown Fairhaven to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, Fairhaven is packed with shops and restaurants, and concerts and movie-screenings on its refurbished Village Green attract people from all over the region.

Elk Street, Bellingham, 1900s

Aerial view of Bellingham, 1900s

Pacific American Fisheries cannery, Bellingham, 1910s

Great Northern Railway depot, Bellingham, 1910s

Larson Lumber Co. Mill, Bellingham, 1900s

Logging train on the way to Bellingham, 1910s

Bellingham loggers beside a Western red cedar

Elk Street, Bellingham, 1900s

Fairhaven Hotel, Bellingham, ca. 1917

Courtesy Tacoma Public Library (91809)

New Whatcom City Hall (Alfred Lee, 1893), Bellingham, 1900s

Holly Street, Bellingham, 1910s

Harris Avenue, Bellingham, 1900s

Hotel Baker, Bellingham, 1910s

State Normal College, Bellingham, 1910s

Sehome Park, Bellingham, 1910s

St. Luke's Hospital, Bellingham, 1900s

Bellingham waterfront, 1900s

Sawmill, Bellingham, 1910s

Horseshoe Cafe, Bellingham, 1950s

Bellingham National Bank Building, Bellingham, 1910s

National Bank Building (now Key Bank), E Holly Street, Bellingham, July 18, 2006


Whatcom Falls Pump Track skillpark

The Whatcom Falls Pump Track was built in partnership by the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition and the City of Bellingham in 2017. The track features both intermediate and advanced loops, along with a beginner track designed for strider bikes without pedals for children just learning to ride. This is a great place for the whole family to enjoy and improve their bike handling skills.

Guidelines
-Use bicycles only
-Helmets required
-No night riding
-Respect closures for weather or track conditions
-No loud music
-Use walk up path for entering and exiting pump track

To help minimize pump track maintenance and have a fun, safe experience, please observe the pump track etiquette below.

Etiquette
-Please avoid riding in wet conditions
-Smooth or semi-slick tires preferred
-Riders on track have right of way
-No running, walking or climbing on top of berms
-Keep track entrances on start ramp clear for riders
-Ride slowly through Whatcom Falls Park and respect other trail and park users
-No riding on the basketball court while players are using the court
-Spectators please stay off the start ramp during busy times and use the outside areas for viewing


On this day: Olympic Pipeline explosion in Bellingham kills three in 1999

On Thursday afternoon, June 10, 1999, a 16-inch fuel line owned by the Olympic Pipe Line Company ruptures in Bellingham, spilling 277,200 gallons of gasoline into Hanna and Whatcom creeks. The volatile fuel explodes, killing three youths: Liam Wood, 18, and Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas, both age 10. The massive fireball sends a plume of smoke 30,000 feet into the air, visible from Anacortes to Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

The Sequence of Events

At 3:25 p.m. on June 10, 1999, the Olympic Pipe Line Company was pumping gasoline thorough a 16-inch pipeline from a refinery in Ferndale, south to terminals in Seattle and Portland, when a pressure relief valve failed. The resulting pressure surge led to a catastrophic rupture in the line traversing Whatcom Falls Park, and sent 277,200 gallons of highly volatile gasoline into Hanna Creek and Whatcom Creek, which flows through downtown Bellingham into Bellingham Bay.

At 4:35 p.m. an Olympic Pipeline field worker who happened to be in the Whatcom Creek area called the company’s command center in Renton, reporting a strong odor of gasoline. Local residents and businesses also started calling the Whatcom County 911 Dispatch Center reporting the strong odor of gasoline in the vicinity of Whatcom Creek.

At about 4:45 p.m., Bellingham Fire Department Hazardous Materials Teams, sent to investigate, found copious quantities of gasoline flowing down the creek toward Bellingham Bay. The water was pink and the fumes overwhelming. The Bellingham Fire Department and Police Department immediately began evacuating the area and setting up barricades. The Bellingham Fire Department notified Olympic Pipe Line there was gasoline flowing down Whatcom Creek toward the city. But it was too late.

At 4:55 p.m., the gasoline vapors exploded, creating a river of fire from the rupture site near the Whatcom Falls Water Treatment Station, one and a half miles down the creek, to Interstate-5. The massive fireball sent a plume of smoke 30,000 feet into the air, visible from Anacortes to Vancouver B. C. Dense black smoke caused the closure of Interstate-5 for more than an hour. Fearing the fire would continue flowing down the creek into downtown Bellingham, police officers began evacuating businesses. Gasoline migrated into the city’s sewer system, and the vapors were at explosive levels for an hour. The U. S. Coast Guard, concerned the fuel could ignite dock pilings and vessels, closed Bellingham Bay for a one-mile radius from the mouth of Whatcom Creek.

The first victim was Liam Gordon Wood, age 18, who was fly fishing in Whatcom Creek when the rupture occurred. According to Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel, Wood was overcome by noxious fumes, and fell into the creek and drowned prior to the explosion.

The other two victims, Wade King, 10, and Stephen Tsiorvas, 10, schoolmates at Roosevelt Elementary School, were playing north of the Hanna and Whatcom Creek confluence when the explosion occurred. The boys survived the blast but suffered second and third degree burns over 90 percent of their bodies. They were found immediately and flown to the intensive-care burn unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Tragically, the boys died the following day, on June 11, 1999.

Astonishingly, the explosion and fire caused no additional deaths and injuries were few. By 6:30 p.m., firefighters managed to get the major blazes under control, and by 7:00 p.m., the black smoke had largely dissipated. Fortunately, the fire did not travel west from Interstate-5, and this saved downtown Bellingham. The inferno, estimated to have reached 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, caused a high-voltage power line and two substations to be shut down, disrupting electrical service to about 58,000 Bellingham customers for several hours.

Most of the collateral property damage was caused by explosions, which broke windows in homes and businesses and leveled a house on Valencia Street near the creek. The fire was mostly contained in and along the creek bed, leaving the greenbelt charred and blackened. Authorities were astounded that the damage was so light.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources crews assisted Bellingham firefighters in extinguishing the remaining fires in Whatcom Falls Park and helped to evaluate the immediate hazards to officials and search teams from burned trees, debris, and fuel vapors.

The water treatment plant and pump station at Whatcom Falls sustained extensive damage. The treatment plant adds chlorine to the water pumped from Lake Whatcom, Bellingham’s main water supply. The fuel spill occurred about 150 feet in front of the facility, and the subsequent explosion shattered all the windows and blew the doors off the building. Ken Thomas, assistant director of the Bellingham Public Works Department told The Bellingham Herald that for all practical purposes, the pump station had been destroyed. He said the brick and concrete shell was salvageable, but all the control systems, and even the fire extinguishers melted in the fire.

In addition to damaging the station’s five huge water pumps, the blast also damaged chemical feeding equipment. Fortunately, the tanks holding toxic chlorine were undamaged. By the following morning, two of the damaged pumps were temporarily on-line and cranes had arrived to lift out the burned-out motors for the other three pumps. To comply with the law regarding safe drinking water, public works employees began manually feeding chemicals into the water treatment system. Bellingham residents were advised to conserve water until all the water pumps were repaired and back on-line.

The Bellingham Fire Department’s investigation determined that Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas ignited the gasoline vapor from the ruptured pipeline when they inadvertently lit a butane fireplace lighter near the spill in Whatcom Falls Park. The boys had been using the lighter to set off fireworks outside the park earlier in the day. Bellingham Fire Chief Mike Leigh gave his view that the boys were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Boys Saved Bellingham

In a twist of fate, King and Tsiorvas became unwitting heroes. In a statement to the news media on June 18, 1999, Bellingham Mayor Mark Asmendson said, “The cause of the fire was the fuel released from the Olympic pipeline. The fact that it was ignited was inevitable. With the thousands and thousands of gallons of fuel that were proceeding down Whatcom Creek, had the ignition not taken place where it did and at the time it did, the damage to this community and the loss of life would have been far greater. These boys completely, without notice or any awareness, were involved in an action that ended up being heroic for the city of Bellingham.”

Mayor Asmendson further stated “Despite the horror and sadness to these children, we, as a community, are fortunate [the fire] occurred at the time and the place it did because the alternatives and more time would have only made it worse” (The Bellingham Herald).

Criminal Violations and Criminal Negligence

On October 8, 2002, The National Transportation Safety Board, after a three-year investigation, ruled that the Olympic pipeline explosion was caused by a cascading series of events rather than a single catastrophic failure of the fuel pipe. The NTSB cited damage caused in 1994 by IMCO General Construction Company while conducting excavation work at nearby Whatcom Falls Water Treatment Plant, the failure of the Olympic Pipe Line Company to identify or repair the damage, a faulty computer system which failed to respond to repeated indications that pressure was building up inside the pipeline, a faulty pressure relief valve and failure to adequately train its employees.

A criminal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency resulted in a seven-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Seattle in September 2001. The indictment charged Olympic Pipe Line, and Equilon Pipeline, which had run the Olympic in 1999, with five felony violations of the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act and two misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act. Included in the indictment were three Olympic employees, a vice-president/manager, a supervisor, and the controller at the time of the accident.

On July 28, 1999, the parents of Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Whatcom County Superior Court naming the Olympic Pipe Line Company, the Equilon Pipeline Company and three Olympic employees as defendants. On April 10, 2002, in an out-of-court settlement, Olympic and Equilon agreed to pay the families of King and Tsiorvas $75 million. The Wood family reached a separate, undisclosed settlement with the companies.

On December 11, 2002, Olympic Pipe Line pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court, Seattle, to one felony count under the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act and two Clean Water Act misdemeanors. Equilon Pipeline entered no-contest pleas to the same violations. Under the plea agreement, the companies agreed to pay a record $112 million to settle all federal criminal fines and most civil claims against them. According to U. S. Attorney John McKay, the pleas marked the first time a pipeline company had been convicted under the 1979 Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act.

After this terrible tragedy, Representative Kelli Linville (D-Bellingham) sponsored a bill that would give the state responsibility for regulating intrastate pipelines and improve pipeline safety. On March 28, 2000, during a ceremony at Bellingham City Hall, Governor Gary Locke signed into law the Washington Pipeline Safety Act (House Bill 2420), which allows the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission to inspect 2,500 miles of intrastate pipelines and oversee the state’s pipeline-safety program.

Governor Locke said the law "sets us on a clear path toward stronger and more effective regulations of pipelines and better prevention of accidents" (Seattle P-I). Annual fees levied against the pipeline operators pay for the program, which costs about $1 million a year.

Sources: John Harris and Cathy Logg, "Gas Pipeline Explodes," The Bellingham Herald, June 11, 1999, p. 1 Cathy Logg, "Explosion Toll Mounting," Ibid., June 15, 1999, p. 1 Khurram Saeed, "Two Boys Who Died Are Heroes, Says Mayor," Ibid., June 18, 1999, p. 1 Cathy Logg, "Olympic First Blast Blamed on Outside Source," Ibid., August 27, 1999, p. 1 Scott Sunde, "Blast Ignites River of Fire," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 11, 1999, p. 1 Ellis E. Conklin, "Boys Who Died Were "Unwitting Heroes" in Pipeline Fire," Ibid., June 18, 1999, p. A-14 "Victim's Families Want Answers, Sue Company," Ibid., July 29, 1999, p. B-1 Paul Shukovosky, "Criminal Indictments in Deadly Pipeline Explosion," Ibid., September 14, 2001, p. A-1 Scott Sunde, "Not-Guilty Pleas in Pipeline Blast Case," Ibid., September 28, 2001, p. B-1 Scott Sunde, "2 Companies Fined $7.9 Million Each in Fatal Bellingham Blast," Ibid., June 6, 1999, p. B-5 Tracy Johnson, "$75 Million Settlement Families of 2 Boys Killed in Pipeline Fire Promise to Continue Pushing for Safety," Ibid., April 11, 2002, p. A-1 M. L. Lyke, "Sigh of Relief in Bellingham Pipeline Report Brings a Sense of Closure to Victim's Families," Ibid., October 9, 2002, p. A-8 Charles Pope, "Pipeline Explosion Blamed on Negligence," Ibid., October 9, 2002, p. A-1 Tracy Johnson and Vanessa Ho, "In Deal, Olympic Pipe Line 3 Workers Admit Guilt in Blast," Ibid., December 12, 2002, p. A-1 Jack Broom, Jim Brunner, Janet Burkitt, and Keiko Morris, "3 Die, Including 2 Boys, When Fireball Erupts in Bellingham Gas-line Explosion," The Seattle Times, June 11, 1999, p. A-1 Brier Dudley, "Olympic Pipe Line Hit with Record Fine," Ibid., June 3, 2000, p. A-1 Steve Miletich, "Olympic to Pay $10 Million Fine," Ibid., June 19, 2001, p. A-1 Mike Carter, "Families Say $75 million Will Help Push Pipeline Safety," Ibid., April 11, 2002, p. A-1 Katherine Pfleger, "NTSB Faults Pipeline Firm," Ibid., October 9, 2002, p. B-1 Steve Miletich, "Pipeline blast Plea Deal Crafted," Ibid., November 1, 2002, p. B-1 Steve Miletich, "Pipeline Blast Results in $100 Million Criminal Fine," Ibid., December 11, 2002, p. A-1 Maureen O'Hagan, "Pipeline Agreement Falls Short, Families Say," Ibid., December 12, 2002, p. B-1 "Criminal Charges Boost Pipeline Safety," The Tacoma News Tribune, December 13, 2002, p. B-12 "Governor Signs Pipeline Safety Act," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 29, 2000, p. B-2 "Law Boosts Pipeline Safety in State," The Seattle Times, March 29, 2000 Kevin Blocker, "Trial over Pipeline Rupture Stays on West Side for Now," Spokesman Review, March 27, 2002, p. B-3.


Watch the video: PNW Waterfalls - Whatcom Falls - Whatcom Falls Park, Bellingham, Washington, USA (August 2022).