The Top Five Bizarre Events In Pacific Northwest History
I love Top Ten or Top Five lists. They give me a chance to read them and then proclaim that the author is an idiot who is obviously in need of serious counseling. On the other hand, when I write one it gives you, the reader, a chance to share in my wisdom and deep insights. Having said that, I present to you the Top Five Bizarre Events in Pacific Northwest History.
There were only two criteria in compiling this list: the events had to be verifiable (sorry, no Bigfoot sightings) and they had to have occurred in the Pacific Northwest. Idaho residents will scream at their exclusion from this list but let’s face it, Idaho does not border the Pacific Ocean. As for Alaska, I for one consider Alaska to be a completely different country, so they were excluded as well. This is my list and as such I can exclude anyone I want. If you are from Alaska or Idaho make your own damn list.
So read on, debate until you are blue in the face, and hopefully you will find entertainment in the process. Mt. St. Helens was left off the list, by the way, simply because I do not consider a volcano erupting to be a bizarre event, just as I don’t consider our puppy going to the bathroom in our kitchen to be bizarre; troublesome to be sure but in no way bizarre.
No earthquakes either. As much as people in the midwest want to believe that earthquakes happen often here, I can't really say that they are often or bizarre. They just are!
Now if you want to talk about bizarre, let's talk about my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, who had a mustache and looked a great deal like D.B. Cooper....now she was bizarre.
But I digress. Let's get to the real top five list and allow Mrs. Brown to rest in peace.
#5 a Pig Almost Changes History
On June 15, 1859, an American settler on what today is San Juan Island shot and killed a pig that was eating his potatoes. Unfortunately the pig belonged to Englishman Charles Griffin and an international incident began. Since the United States and Great Britain were already in heated discussions about poorly defined boundary lines through the San Juan Islands, 461 American forces faced off against 2,140 British forces for a two-month standoff. In the end tempers cooled, the boundary was established and the only casualty in what could have been the third war between America and Great Britain was the pig.
- UNDERGROUND TOUR
Underground Tour, Seattle's most unusual attraction, is a humorous walking tour of the buried city.
Atlas, Books on Northwest
#4 Seattle Builds a City on Top of a City
In the aftermath of the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, which destroyed twenty-five city blocks, city officials made two daring decisions. First, they decided to rebuild Seattle of stone and brick to protect against a repeat of the deadly fire. Second, they ambitiously chose to raise the street level one to two levels higher to guard against flooding and backed-up flush toilets. As a result, today’s Seattle stands 12-30 feet above the old Seattle. The Underground Tour, which takes visitors along the streets of the old Seattle and gives them a wonderful view of rats the size of pigs in their natural habitat, is still a popular tourist attraction in Seattle.
The Big Flood
- Ice Age Floods Institute
We are a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization committed to the recognition and presentation of the Ice Age Floods as a significant part of the nation's, and the world's, natural heritage.
#3 Ice Age Lake Missoula Floods Washington State
Approximately 12,000 years ago, before I was born for sure, Glacial Lake Missoula in what is now Western Montana, broke through its ice dam and unleashed a series of floods of Biblical proportions. Imagine a wall of water 60 feet high travelling at 36 meters per second with the force of sixty Amazon Rivers. When the floods finally ended the Scablands of Eastern Washington were created, the Columbia River Gorge was carved, the Willamette Valley in Oregon was formed and remnants of the largest waterfall in the world, Dry Falls, can still be seen. For those of you who think Niagara Falls is the cat’s meow, Dry Falls has 3.5 miles of cliffs and drops 400 feet, making it three times as large as Niagara. Since the Flood happened twelve-thousand years ago I have no idea if there were casualties. There are unsubstantiated reports of large deposits of bacon being found in Oregon leading one to believe at least a few thousand pigs died during the Flood.
- Jap Incendiary Bomb Sets Oregon Forest Fire
1942 Japanese seaplane drops incendiary device on Southern Oregon forest.
#2 Brookings, Oregon, Is Bombed By Japanese During Wwii
In June of 1942 the Japanese long-range submarine I-25 took position off the Oregon Coast near Ft. Stevens and opened fire on the fort, leaving craters on the beach and marshland near the fort. Three months later, on September 9, 1942, the same Japanese submarine arrived near the coast of Southern Oregon. A seaplane was launched from the submarine and incendiary bombs were dropped near the town of Brookings, Oregon, making it the first aerial bombing of the United States mainland by a foreign nation. Because of the dampness of the Pacific Northwest the forests around Brookings were so wet that they failed to catch fire even though the bombs did indeed explode. Despite exhaustive research I was unable to determine if any pigs died during the bombing.
#1 D.b. Cooper Skyjacks Boeing 727
On November 24, 1971, a man claiming to be Dan Cooper purchased a ticket for Northwest Airlines Flight 305 from Portland to Seattle. As the plane began its takeoff he handed a note to the stewardess claiming to have a bomb and demanding $200,000. Upon landing in Seattle the ransom was paid, all passengers and some of the crew were allowed to leave the plane, and then the skyjacker demanded that the plane fly to Mexico. At 10,000 feet, with gusting winds of 80 knots and a frigid rain falling, the man known as Dan Cooper parachuted out of the plane and into local lore somewhere near the Columbia River north of Portland. After forty years he remains to this day a mystery, whereabouts and true identity unknown. Whether he owned a pig is also unknown.
So there you have it! Hopefully you have been somewhat entertained and are moved to at least do some research about pigs. If evidence of Bigfoot’s existence should ever surface then I will be sure and put him/her at the top of the list where he/she deservedly belongs.
One Final Note
I purposely left out Sasquatch because, well, I need a little more proof. I'd like someone to come forward with something other than a grainy picture and the word of some drunks out on a hunting trip.
I also left out Dixie Lee Ray, a governor we had in Washington awhile back. She was a pig farmer and as such I thought she mentioned honorable mention, but no way does a pig farmer make the top five, even though a pig did.
I hope you enjoyed our little romp through history. Now that I look at this list, we really aren't that bizarre. I mean, compared to New York or Los Angeles, we hardly register on the Fujita Scale of Weirdness.
2012 William D. Holland ( aka billybuc)