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
Learn who created this Website


Galen Biery Collection: Center for Pacific NW Studies Western Washington University
     The first town platted on Bellingham Bay was named for Chief Sehome of the Clallam tribe. The plat was filed by E.C. Fitzhugh, an agent for the Bellingham Bay Coal Company, C.C. Vail and James Tilton in 1858. The city of Sehome, now downtown Bellingham, developed alongside the city of Whatcom, now known as "Old Town." The early economy of the area was closely tied to the Sehome Coal Mine which opened in 1854 near the present intersection of Railroad and Myrtle Streets. The mine spurred little economic development despite the backing of the Bellingham Coal Company and investors from San Francisco. After several years with little profit, the coal mine closed in 1879. With the mining efforts abandoned, town leaders and investors sought to merge Sehome with Whatcom to spur economic development. The town of Sehome was renamed 'New Whatcom' in order to push the consolidation. New Whatcom and Whatcom joined in 1890 to form an even larger 'New Whatcom'. By 1901 the 'New' was dropped and the consolidated city was then simply known as Whatcom.