Arbor Day 1896:  Bringing Trees Back to Fairhaven
 
Looking East on Harris Avenue
Courtesy Whatcom Museum
The December 1890 Holiday Edition of the Fairhaven Herald described the clear-cutting of Fairhaven at the time as if "a giant's scythe cut everything in sight."  The 1889 painting gives confirms this was not an exaggeration.  Most of Fairhaven and South Hill had been logged to make room for homes and businesses.  

Dr. W. R. Gray, first tenant in the Mason Block (now Sycamore Square) gives us a account of what the streets of Fairhaven looked like when he arrived on June 13, 1890.   
 
"Arrived in Fairhaven a little after seven o'clock.  It is a struggling town, built on the stumps of trees cut down to make way for the town site.”
 
On April 26, 1896, the City of Fairhaven used Arbor Day
as a time to bring the trees back with a planting campaign
that would plant 300 trees.   Each street would get a specific tree:
 
Donovan:      Birch                            11th:     Cork Bark Elm
Larrabee:      Horse Chestnut          12th:     Catalpa
McKenzie:     Cork Bark Elm             13th:     Maple
Harris:             Catalpa                      14th:     White Ash
Mill:                 Birch                            15th:     English Elm
Knox:              Maple
 
(In 1896, 11th street continued into what is now State street.  
Today, 35 of the original 117 cork bark elms planted along the street
above Boulevard Park still remain.)


Brian Griffin, Bellingham historian believes the Arbor Day saplings were surrounded by slatted wooden guards, possibly, to protect the young trees from cows, which were allowed to roam freely in Fairhaven, provided they wore a cowbell.
 
The Arbor Day schedule of 1896, solves a mystery of the date the large horse chestnut was planted in front of the home on 1312 Larrabee Avenue.    The large tree takes over the entire front yard of the former 1890 Fairhaven Herald newspaper office.  The Herald would occupy that address until 1902.  It would become Sacred Heart Catholic Church from 1905 to 1913.
 
Another Arbor Day campaign would occur in 1904, when Fairhaven became part of the City of Bellingham. 



 
 
 







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