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SEATTLE'S HERITAGE

Visits to the Nordic Museum and Boeing Museum of Flight

(Saturday) I could not have chosen a better week to visit this beautiful city for the weather has been perfect with blue skies every day. Cousin Tom and I drove to the northern suburb of Ballard, where the Nordic population settled upon arriving in Seattle. In 1910, Scandinavians were the largest ethnic group in Washington State, comprising over 30% of the population. Immigrants from the Nordic countries--Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland--35 million between 1840-1914 came to America to seek a better life. They first settled in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis but the transcontinental railroads campaigned heavily in those cities and throughout Europe to travel west in America to the Pacific coast. Self-serving, of course, and it worked for the Nordics found Washington State a landscape of saltwater fjords, farmland, forests and mountains that reminded them of home. With them they brought the trade skills of logging, ship-building, & saltwater fishing. Today, Seattle's Nordic heritage is celebrated through traditional festivals. For example, organizations such as the Sons of Norway, Swedish Cultural Center, Northwest Danish Assn., Icelandic Club, Finlandia Foundation, and the Swedish Finn Historical Society continue their proud customs.
The logging and lumber industries became huge due to the seemingly limitless forests in the Northwest. Lumber was exported by ship and rail. Commercial fishing with the enormous salmon, halibut, cod, etc. fish populations added to the export business, also. Employment in canneries to process fish for shipping, and millwork in the lumber industry provided better standards of living for the immigrants. Ballard, WA was once known as the "Shingle Capitol of the World" for Red Cedar lumber from the forests was ideal for producing roof shingles, by the millions and for export by rail to the east. After the completion of the Hiram Chittenden Locks in 1917, connecting Lake Washington and Lake Union with Puget Sound through the Ship Canal, Nordic fisherman had fresh water moorage for their vessels. This led to the establishment of Fishermen's Terminal, now home to one of the world's largest fleets of fishing boats. In their moorage we observed huge ocean-going factory fishing vessels that sail to Alaska for their catch. There they process the fish, flash-freeze it, and pack it -all on board -ready for shipment to dining establishments around the world. Just amazing. Needless-to-say, the Nordic people have contributed greatly to Seattle, to Washington State, and to their new homeland, the USA.

Our next stop was the Museum of Flight at Bill Boeing's birthplace of the Boeing Company in its original manufacturing plant. We saw artifacts of the early period, the workshop where he tinkered with flying machines. His first planes were built of spruce wood frames covered with linen. Carpenters made the frames and lady seamstresses covered them with the fabric. Like many early inventors, he had failures along the way, but prior to WWI he was able to win a Navy contract for a dozen float planes to be used as observation aircraft. That provided the funds and motivation which led to greater and greater successes. The design of the prototype B-17 in the 1930's put him 'on the map'. The rest is history. The museum has 5 galleries which display dozens of aircraft of different time periods including space flight. It was all very interesting and I was feeling a moment in history as I walked through the huge complex. It was another very interesting day in Seattle.

Posted by dixter 09:18 Archived in USA

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