Bruce Haulman's Chronology of Vashon Disasters

Vashon and Maury Island Disasters Timeline

Bruce Haulman, co-author of the new Vashon-Maury Island history, has put together a timeline of Vashon's various disasters, and kindly allowed us to publish it here. Please send him (via us) any inconsistencies you might find. 


Native People

Ayahos - a representation of a'yahos, Native American supernatural spirit associated with earthquakes - from Wikipedia's Seattle Fault article6,750 YBP - Mount Mazama (Crater Lake) Eruption, ash layer

4,800 YBP – Osceola Mud Flow, lahar from Mount Rainier reaches Commencement Bay

600 YBP – Electron Mud Flow, lahar from Mount Rainier

1700 – January 26 – Cascadia Megaquake hits PNW - 9.0+ Richer

American Settlement

1833 – June 29 - Earthquake

1852 – First Logging on Island

                    The Leonesa loaded spars

                    King County formed by Oregon Provisional Legislature

1855 – First Relocation - December, Eastern Puget Sound Indian Tribes gathered at central points one of which was Vashon’s Island (others included North Bay, Nisqually, Steilacoom, Gig Harbor, Seattle, Port Orchard, Penn’s Cove, and Oak Harbor)

1855-56 – S’Homamish Interned at Fox Island

1869 – June 29 – Earthquake

1872 – December 14 – Earthquake

1873 – October 19 – Mount Rainier eruption

1880 – December 7 and 12 – twin earthquakes

Vashon-Maury Island Settlement – 1865-1893

1875 – Alec McLeod landed 1,000 sheep at Tramp Harbor.

1883 – King County build first island roads – Burton to Center, and Ellisport to Lisabeula.

1885 – Point Robinson fog signal installed. Began draining tidal marsh.

                    Anti-Chinese riots in Seattle and Tacoma –

                    November 3 – Tacoma expels all Chinese

                    - Chinese community at Manzanita disappears

1887 – Pt. Robinson light on 25-foot pole added to fog signal.

                    Tidal Marsh filled.

1889 – November 11 - Washington becomes a state

                    Seattle fire – encourages brick works on Vashon

1893 – Major forest fire burns from Center to Ellisport

                    Financial collapse, island population drops - June financial panic began on the east coast - after a decade of rapid growth depression severely hit the Puget Sound - affected business on island as well - 14 Tacoma Banks failed - unknown numbers of unemployed because no one kept statistics - prices dropped, particularly for agricultural goods

                    Fire - in August 1893 a fire began in the logged off area near the present high school where the first saw mill was located.  The fire rages for two days and nights, "nearly a hundred" volunteers "fought desperately against apparently hopeless odds, with shovels and hoes and rakes, to save the new Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church at Center, and the Fuller store across the street. With the flames within two hundred yards of Center, the wind shifted to the north on the evening of the second day, allowing fire fighters finally gain control of the fire.

Founding Vashon-Maury Island – 1893 to 1920

1896 – Interurban Electric railroad opens from Seattle to Renton – expanded to Tacoma during next decade – makes Vashon agriculture less competitive

1897 – Group of dry dock workers sent to Portage to fill causeway for water level

                    road to Dockton

1907 – First automobile on island.

                    Pike Place Public Market opens – Island farmers sell produce

                    “Vashon Island News” purchased by John Reid

1910 – Vashon College Main Building burns – college closes

1910-1915 – Puget Mill Company logs 10 sections (10 square miles) of Vashon-Maury Islands 33 square miles.

1918 – “Spanish Flu” Influenza Pandemic

Vashon-Maury Island Decline, Depression, and War – 1920 to 1945

1920 – Burton Fire – three buildings burned.

                    Fire destroys remains of Raeco Raecolite (linoleum) plant on Maury

1922 – Strawberry maggot infestation.

                    South end forest fire, burn for 3 months – Tahlequah to Camp Sealth, Colvos to Quartermaster

                    All black current bushes destroyed to stop white pine blister rot

1923 – February Blizzard – week long – 3 foot drifts

1925 – Lisabeula School destroyed by fire

1926 – Auto drives off Lisabeula pier – 2 drown 5 saved

                    Volunteer Fire Department formed at Vashon

1927 – Water District 19 installs mains and fire hydrants in Vashon Town

1930 – Filipino workers in fight – cabins dynamited

                    Vashon gets its first X-Ray machine

1933 – April 16 -Vashon fire, half of downtown Vashon burns – England Peterson Lumber Co. and Middling Hotel lost

                    April 17 – Time Clarke gives ice cream away to children with own spoons

                    no electricity after fire

                    Sportsman Club drive to destroy feral cats – protect birds and poultry

                    Major forest fire – Paradise Valley to Lisabuela

1934 -        Elmer Stone killed saving fellow worker from gravel pit collapse at Ellisport Hill

                    October wind storm – 85 mph winds – trees down, power out, ferries suspended

1935 -        Ferry Strike – 15 days - temporary ferry service at north end by “Verona”

1936 – July 15 Earthquake – 5.75 Richter

1937 -        Ferry Strike – county runs emergency service with “Washington”

1938 - Caterpillar infestation on island

                    State Department of Health warns against eating Puget Sound mussels

1939 -        Ferry Strike – 22 days -  King County puts “Washington” on emergency service

                    Island Men seize ferry “Elwaha” – vigilante action to keep ferry service if needed

                    Forest fires burn on island – 2 days at Heights, 2 days at Rosehilla, 1 month at Pt. Robinson

                    November 12 – Earthquake shakes for 21 minutes 5.75 Richter

1940 – April 6 – Meeting to form Fire District

                    Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses – Ferry service at Tahlequah curtailed and ferries put on Gig Harbor – Pt. Defiance run to replace bridge

1941 -        Pearl Harbor attacked – WW II begins – Editorial calls for balanced in dealing with Japanese citizens on the island

1942 – Air Raid Observation Posts set up, Air Raid drills held

                    KIRO closes facilities and grounds to visitors

                    Paul Billingsley appointed head of island Civil Defense

                    Second Relocation - Island Japanese interned – 126 leave island – 300 friends see them off – Executive Order 9066

                    March 24 – Election to select Fire Commissioners - George McCormick, Ferguson Beall, Harry Robbins, Charles Van Olinda, Norman Edson, Coy Meredith elected

                    March 26 – Election to form King County Fire Protection District – County purchases fire truck for the island

                    October – first official meeting of Fire District 13

1943 -        18 inch snowfall blankets island

                    War efforts – shoes rationed, meat rationed, War Loan drives, paper drives

                    Four island boys drown, fifth saved during gale in West Passage

A Vashon-Maury Island Community – 1945 to 1970

1945 - 100 acre fire in Paradise Valley

                    September – Tahlequah, Burton and Dockton Fire Halls dedicated by Vashon Fireman’s Association

                    April 29 – Earthquake 5.5 Richter

1946 -        3,500 cheery trees destroyed to prevent infestation

                    February 14 - Earthquake rocks island – slide at Shawnee - 6.3 Richter

                    Vashon Theater burns – Feb. 24 - surrounding buildings saved – movies shown in Island Club (now Ober Park)

                    Smallpox epidemic

                    June 23 – Earthquake – 7.3 Richter

1947 – January gale and freeze – temperatures drop to 17 degrees

                    Ferry Strike – March 14-20 – temporary service by White Swan, Carlisle and Elsie C III

                    June 26 - Harold Dahl and Fred Crissman report the explosion on June 21, 1947, of a giant doughnut-shaped “flying saucer” near Maury Island in Puget Sound

                    December Gale – 53 mph winds at Tahlequah and Point Dalco

1948 – Vashon Ferry District begins ferry service – Black Ball fleet tied up by Captain Peabody – he asks state for 30% fare increase

                    March 1 Gallant Lady makes first passenger run Vashon to Fauntleroy – King County Ferry District No. 1

                    King County makes 45 car ferry Lincoln available for Fauntleroy run

                    Ed Zarth killed in explosion at Island Garage

1949 – March 23, storm sinks Tahlequah ferry slip

                    April 13 – Puget Sound earthquake 7.1 Richter

1950 – Falcon’s Nest Burns – island showcase lodge destroyed by fire

                    Jan 13 Blizzard – 14 inches of snow blankets Island – 3 weeks of extreme cold weather – 9 days below 10 degrees

                    Jan 14 – powerful waves undermine store and sweep structure into the Sound

                    Jan 24 Gale – 60 mph winds close ferry service

1951 – June 1 - State of Washington State Ferry System formed – Vashon Ferry District becomes part of State Ferry System

1952 –Ground Observers Post – air defense volunteers – becomes basis for Air Force troops stationed on Vashon as part of Cold War – 70 volunteers get training

1953 – February – 76 mph gale strikes island – power out, much wind damage

1954 –Jan. 21 – heavy snow and smashed ferry dock isolate Island – passenger only service

1955 – NIKE missile site to be added to Island – part of “Metropolitan Defense Ring” - Ground Observers Corp to be deactivated

                    First and Second grade students get Salk Anti-Polio vaccine

1956 – Northwest Airline Stratoliner crashes off Point Robinson – April 2

                    31 passengers, 6 crew, 32 rescued by Vashon Islanders in 3 outboard boats – 3 die – 2 missing (Tsui Kinglin,  her son Vee Song Foon 4 ys.old, Paul Wehrnen, Dr George Hook, David Razey Flight Attendant)

                    Kirschner Fiberglass Plant burned in fire

1957 – March of Dimes - Polio Immunization Day January 24 – 827 shots given

                    Fire Permits required – except for beach fires, cooking fire, recreational fires, and incinerators

                    Flu closes school for 2 days – 25% absent

                    Larson Grocery Store in Burton burns – grocery in building since 1924

1958 – 500 acre wildfire on Maury – 3 day battle to contain blaze

1962 – Oct 12 – Columbus Day Storm – most powerful extra-tropical cyclone to hit the US in the 20th Century

1963 – April – “Plectron” alert system and 34 receivers purchased by fire district

1964 – Earthquake – leads to stronger County building codes

1965 – Seattle Earthquake 6.5 Richter

Change on Vashon-Maury Island – 1970 to 1990

1970 –July 18 – King County Vashon Courthouse firebombed - Fire destroys County building and Insurance agency – set by “incendiary device” - Two men charged with “firebombing

1971 – Civic Assembly begins Medical Survey to establish 24-hour clinic

                    “Rock Concert” –controversy over plan to hold fund raiser for “Neighbor’s in Need” – community divided

                    Proposal for armed Volunteer Sherriff group

1972 – Snowstorm late January – 8 inches of snow – 3 foot drifts – gale force winds

                    March 2 weeks heavy rains lead to multiple slides and road closures

                    Home at Indian Point destroyed by slide

                    Island Health Care Center opens in Burton July 10. 24-hours clinic on Island

                    Seattle-King County Health Department tests show lead and arsenic in soil and animals on Vashon – source ASARCO smelter in Tacoma

1973 – Island Water Systems unsafe – 1964 survey finds 32 of 44 island systems are contaminated – 1973 only 8 “acceptable” systems – ban on building permits unless water system is certified

                    Seattle-King County Health Department and Puget Sound Air Pollution Control Agency to test island for arsenic contamination – test air for arsenic and test school children for arsenic in hair, blood and urine

                    Tests find “significantly elevated” levels of arsenic in hair samples of students - Puget Sound Air Pollution Agency proposed nations first arsenic emission regulation – ASARCO submits compliance schedule

                    Civic Assembly to develop Vashon Island Emergency Plan

                    Gas crisis hits Island – gas pumps dry

                    Oil spill at Racoma Beach – 1.5 miles of beach covered with over 100 gallons of heavy bunker oil

1974 –Gas crisis hits Island – stations set schedules – concerns about off-island gas buyers – early morning sales until daily allocation gone

                    Ferry Strike by Inland Boatman’s Union – closes all ferries except for boats to Vashon and San Juan (no option of bridges)

1977 – October - Vashon Fire – part of downtown burns – not enough water pressure – 6 businesses destroyed or damaged

1980 – May 18 – Mount St. Helens eruption

1983 – Bradley vs. ASARCO – suit filed against ASARC for trespass from emissions of arsenic and heavy metals onto Vashon property

1985 –  Marie and Mike Bradley win suit against ASARCO for trespass for polluting land with down wind emissions of arsenic and other heavy metals – State Supreme Court finds 9-0 in favor of Bradley’s – establishes “down wind” precedent

                    Vashon joins King County 911 emergency phone service

1995 – January 28 – Point Robinson Earthquake – 5.0 Richter

1996 – May 2 – Seattle Earthquake 5.3 Richter

1999 – July 2 - Earthquake

The Present on Vashon-Maury Island – 1990 to The Present

2001 – February 28 – Nisqually Earthquake 6.8 Richter

2003 – May –  October – ex-Catus Coast Guard buoy tender towed to Maury Island shore by owner and abandoned – navigation and environmental hazard – not removed until Dec 2008

2004 –  October- Oil spill in Dalco Passage south of Vashon/Maury Island

                    King County Council approves three controversial ordinances, known collectively as the Critical Areas Ordinance or CAO, that limit rural development, in an effort to protect the environment and comply with the state Growth Management Act's requirement that regulations be based on the "best available science."

2005 – January 28 - oil spill in Dalco Passage – quick response – contained

Car and travel trailer destroyed by fire – 911 call on cell phone went to Kitsap County Sherriff – new off island 911 service not working well

2006 – Feb – Flu hits Vashon schools – 22.3% of students out of school ill

                    June – Vashon beaches closed – high levels of PSP toxins in shellfish

                    July – 6 swimmers rescued of Point Heyer (KVI Beach) – VIFR Rescue boat out of service – windsurfer rescues them - Coast Guard rescue boat accompanies rescuer to the beach

                    December  - Wind Storm – power out to entire island – Fire Station open as Emergency Shelter – some out of power 7 days – 70 mph gusts - worst storm since Columbus Day storm of 1962 – 30 trees down on Cedarhurst Road – night temperatures in 20’s

2007 -        February – Vashon Oil Incident Support and Education (VOISE) receives grant from State Department of Ecology for work in oil spill issues

                    March – King County Brownfield Program begins cleanup at Ellisport –

                    Greenhouse bunker oil contamination from 1920s-1960s

                    April – Vashon Disaster Preparedness Coalition renames itself VashonBePrepared

                    August - Murder – 53 year old man killed by 23 year old landlord

                    October – Alien species of tunicate (sea snail) found in QM Harbor

2008 –  July – Havurat Ee Shalom synagogue broken into and hateful words written on the walls – Interfaith gathering protests hateful acts

                    December – Ice and Snowstorm – worse since 1952 – 10 days – schools closed

2009 January – Christmas Bird Count – Dan Willsie reports 17 Western Grebes vs. 366 in 2008 down from 1500-2000 in previous years

                    December Food bank Drive nets $19,438 – Thriftway adds $5000

                    Heavy wet snow Jan 4 – 3000 homes lose power – many cars stranded

                    August – Record high temperatures – 103 degree F

                    Electrical storms cause widespread power outages

                    September –Island Energy Plan Developed by island organizations – VashonBePrepared, VIFR, King County Sheriff, Puget Sound Energy, VSD

                    Vashon readies for H1N1 swine flu pandemic