History of Bellingham, WA
The City of Subdued Excitement


Native History of Bellingham, WA

Long before the first Euro-settlers came to this area, Bellingham, WA was home to several Coast Salish Native Tribes. The Lummis of Lummi Peninsula and the Nooksack tribe that lived up river. They lived off the fish and shellfish of this area. The first European settlers were led to the bay in canoes by Lummis who also helped clear the land and build the first buildings here, providing food and helping them survive their first winter here.

The City Was Named

Bellingham, WA was named in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver, an English explorer, sailed into Bellingham Bay and named it after Sir William Bellingham, a controller in the British Navy. Not long after, settlers came into the area and four different towns were formed.

Whatcom was founded in 1852, Fairhaven was founded in 1853, New Whatcom, (Sehome & Fairhaven), were founded in 1854, and Bellingham was founded in 1853. Each town had its' own interests and their own personality, but they came together to form one city. Bellingham was incorporated in 1903 and consolidated the four cities together along Bellingham Bay.

History of Bellinghams Economy

Coal mining was big business in the mid 1800's to the mid 1900's. In the 1890's, three railroad lines arrived as well and accommodated lumber to aide in the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Bellingham, WA was home to the world's largest salmon cannery at one time.

Bellingham and Whatcom County's economic base was dependent on agriculture, fishing, forestry, and mining up until the mid 1950's. Then the economy shifted towards manufacturing, trade, and services.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau Bellingham's population is a little over 75,000 as of 2006. With such the city has been "home" to many noteable citizens. Some with "grammy awards" and some with "national rewards!"

Bellingham, WA is an eclectic little town and also notable for its' weekly anti-war movement, in a world-wide quest for peace.

The town is pre-dominately liberal, but mixes well with the conservative population which has deeply expressed its' beauty of diversity.

Bragging Rights!

Bellingham has been written up in many magazines, recognized with many "feather-in-your-cap" compliments nationwide! Click here for more about Bellingham's recoginitions!

History of Bellingham-Nickname

Bellingham, WA is nicknamed, "The City of Subdued Excitement!" Perfectly named by a man named Steve Stimpson, a genuine "Hamster" who, once in a while, likes to walk around town wearing a peanut costume and waves to everyone! Makes getting out quite interesting...



How he came up with such a brilliant name for this city is beyond me. I've often entertained the thought of getting a "hampster" outfit and putting it on and see if I couldn't chase him down and talk to him...I'm serious! But...I don't have a hampster outfit...

With Seattle only 90 miles south, the Canadian border 30 miles north, Mount Baker an hour or so away to the east, the city on the edge of the bay on the west, and so much beauty and things to do in between, the "City of Subdued Excitement" is the perfect nickname for Bellingham, WA.

After moving up here, my husband called it "A little masterpiece of low-keyed eloquence." That is why I put that on some of my pages of this site and my footers. It, too, is quite fitting for Bellingham.

Thanks for viewing my History of Bellingham, WA page!

You can check out my About Me page and this website at Bellingham-Subdued-Excitement.com! About me is just that! (My 15 minutes of fame) Just to let readers know what I am all about and that there really is a real person behind this website!

However, I think Bellingham's Notable Citizens are much more worthy of your time.....

I credit the top right picture of Bellingham, WA to Josh Perrish from Flickr.com and "Mr. Peanut" from a local here in town who knows Steve who happened to have a picture of him. Thanks guys!

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