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Early Industry on Bellingham Bay

Howard Buswell Collection: Center for Pacific NW Studies Western Washington University
     The natural abundance that surrounded Bellingham Bay--the dense virgin forests that extended from the waterfront to the Cascade Mountains, coal seams that were clearly evident and easily mined, viable waterpower at Whatcom Falls, and a deep water port for shipping , all provided  excellent draws for settlement to the area in the 1850s. By 1900, the industries attracted by these resources-- fishing, mining, and lumber-- defined the economy of the region. The success of this resource based economy rested on shipments to external markets and the investment of outside capital. In fact, the economy of the region was not unlike that of an overseas colony and this dependence was exhibited in frequent booms and busts. For the geographically isolated Whatcom County, transportation would prove key to both material progress and the fortune of Bellingham Bay. Indeed, the solicitation and development of railroads were the focus of much business activity. Regional railroads allowed local industry to expand into the county, but the failure to attract the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad to Bellingham set the stage for the smaller community we know today.

See also:

Early Industries of Bellingham Bay and Whatcom County by James W.Scott and Daniel E. Turbeville III.