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.