Learn about the towns of Bellingham
Learn about the early town of Fairhaven
Learn about the early town of Sehome
Learn about the early town of Whatcom
Learn about the early days of Bellingham
Learn about early industry
Learn about people of early Bellingham
Learn about early schools in Bellingham
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Galen Biery Collection: Center for Pacific NW Studies Western Washington University
 In 1861, Dan Harris purchased a 43 acre claim on the south side of Bellingham Bay from Alonzo Poe for the sum of $53.75. In 1883, Harris platted the site and named it "Fair Haven on Harris Bay." In 1888, a syndicate owned by developer Nelson Bennett of Tacoma purchased the Harris town site for $70,000. Nelson, along with C.X. Larrabee and James Wardner planned to turn Fairhaven into a metropolis to rival Seattle and Tacoma. This dream failed, but deep water just offshore helped make Fairhaven an important site for Bellingham Bay industry. In 1903, the people of Fairhaven voted to merge with Whatcom to form the City of Bellingham. According to city directories at the time of consolidation, the city of Fairhaven included an estimated 5,500 residents. The primary industry, Pacific American Fisheries, was the largest canning operation in the world, employing over 1000 people within the plant. Other major industries included American Can Co., the Puget Sound Saw Mill and Shingle Co. and the E.K. Wood Lumber Co. In addition, there were several smaller mills, ship yards, box factories, and fish salteries. Fairhaven was a hub for transportation and for the fishing industry. In 1903, it was estimated that 90% of the salmon caught in Puget Sound were caught within a 20 mile radius of Fairhaven. Much of this catch was processed by Pacific American Fisheries and shipped around the world.

 For more information on the Pacific American Fisheries, see the finding aid to the collection available at the Center for Pacific NW Studies: