The Streets of Fairhaven

Dynamite, Mud, Planking, and a Poem 
 
 
Since 1883, Harris Avenue has always been the main street of Fairhaven.  It was named after Fairhaven Founder, Daniel J. Harris.    Inexplicably, the grander and wider street platted in Fairhaven was named McKenzie Avenue,  after who knows who.  A Mystery.  Someone Harris knew by 1883.  
 
The intersections of Harris Avenue at 11th and 12th streets became the most sought after corners for businesses.  This is still true today.
 

 
   
11th and Harris Looking East
toward 12th and Harris and the Fairhaven Hotel
Photo:  Whatcom Museum Photo Archives
 In 1889, Daniel J. Harris sold his property to the Fairhaven Land Company and moved to Los Angeles.   
 
JJ. Donovan, engineer for the Land Company was charged with platting this new property.  He named the new streets after important members of the Land Company (including himself, although he was just an employee.)  
 
So that's why the City of Fairhaven had streets named Larrabee, Donovan, Cowgill and Wilson  The reason we might still stroll up and down Harris, Larrabee, and Donovan is due to protests of unhappy Southsiders in 1903.   Some protests came in the form of poetry. 
 
But let's go back to the 1890s, when everything was happening, quickly!
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 left,  gives a clear cut view when the trees were removed for lots and streets.    
 

Dynamite and Muddy Streets

Dr. W. R. Gray, first tenant in the Mason Block 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.
 
The trees have first to be cut down and burned.  Then the stumps are blown to pieces by giant powder and then they too are burned."
.
..."Great stumps all over the middle of the street."    "It is frequently costing $20 to blast out one stump."  
 
Photo:  Whatcom Museum Photo Archives
Soon the streets would be laid with two-by-twelve wood planking; seen in this 1890s photo of Donovan Avenue.

 


 
Continue Reading:  1903 Protests and a Poem
 
 
 EN 9/22/19



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