Fairhaven on Bellingham Bay


 1889 Fairhaven
Painting located in Old City Hall
(now Whatcom Museum)

The Fairhaven district in Bellingham, Washington occupies the area around Bellingham Bay that was formerly one of four pioneer settlements surrounding the bay.  The original plat of Fairhaven was filed on January 2, 1883, by Daniel J. Harris, the "Dirty Dan” Harris of local lore and legend.  He named this area Fair Haven from the native "see-see-lich-em”, meaning "safe port” or "quiet place”.  Dirty Dan was only one of the many colorful characters that comprise the rich fabric of Fairhaven. 

Beginning in 1888, the town of Fairhaven on Bellingham Bay was experiencing a period of rapid growth and significant development due in large part to the efforts of promoters eagerly anticipating that Fairhaven would be selected as the western terminus of the Great Northern Railroad. These promoters, led by Nelson Bennett and joined by C.X. Larrabee, Edgar Cowgill, E.M. Wilson, Alexander McKenzie and J.J. Donovan formed the Fairhaven Land Company.  They actively advertised opportunities in a land of rich natural resources, a mild climate and limitless possibilities for wealth and prosperity. Indeed, the population leaped from around 150 in 1889 to 8,000 in 1890 according to the Fairhaven Herald of December 29, 1890.

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