Whatcom Creek in Whatcom Falls Park
|Main source||Lake Whatcom, Bellingham, Washington
328 ft (100 m)
|River mouth||Whatcom Creek Waterway, Bellingham Bay
16 ft (4.9 m)
|Progression||Whatcom Creek → Whatcom Creek Waterway → Bellingham Bay|
Approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) long, it drains Lake Whatcom through Whatcom Falls Park and through the city of Bellingham to Bellingham Bay. It starts at the dam near the fish hatchery in Whatcom Falls Park where the creek goes over many falls, (hence the name) from about 350 feet (110 m) to about 80 feet above sea level. It flows across a short plain to downtown Bellingham and over the falls where the first lumber mill that was powered by the falls was built back in 1854.
When two men, Henry Roeder and Mr. Peabody went looking for a falls to power a sawmill back in the early 1850s, he learned of a creek up north that the Indians called Whatcom. In the local lingo this meant "noisy waters" by some accounts. The men canoed to Bellingham Bay and found a fairly large creek tumbling over a 35-foot fall and founded their mill. This was the start of the city of Bellingham.
The creek has a small fishery, with trout and salmon, but only minors are allowed to fish above the falls. During the fall a large group of people fish below the falls, and large salmon can be spotted jumping the falls.
On June 10, 1999, a gasoline pipeline operated by Olympic Pipeline that passes over Whatcom Creek split a seam and dumped about 277,000 gallons into the creek, which then exploded. Before the explosion, an 18-year-old who was fly fishing on the creek was overcome with the noxious fumes and drowned. Minutes after the young man drowned, two 10-year-olds died when the fumes ignited from fireworks they played with. Both boys died from severe burns the following day. After the fire the Olympic pipeline company provided millions of dollars to restore the creek and its surroundings.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Whatcom Creek
- Daryl C. McClary (June 11, 2003). "Olympic Pipe Line accident in Bellingham kills three youths on June 10, 1999.". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
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