Category Archives: Northwest Nuggets

Butler Cove, Washington for Sale: January 13, 1893

Most Olympians don’t know the name Butler Cove. If they know the area at all, it’s usually as “that spot over by golf course” or “that neat little neighborhood off Cooper Point Road.”

Butler Cove, Olympia, at sunset
Butler Cove, Olympia, Washington, at sunset.

Historical Hotspot

Butler Cove, however, has quite a bit of history packed into its small space. It’s a beautiful place that emanates calm, contemplative energy.

In 1854 it was the site of the murder of a Queen Charlotte Islands Indian and the probably revenge-murder of Colonel Ebey that resulted. For a time it was also an important center of commerce. In the 1870s it was the site of a long wharf constructed on the properties of the French and Brown families. The road leading to Butler Cove, by the way, is French Road.

Well, that wharf got people going to Butler Cove (then called Butler's Cove), and those people quickly decided that it was a great spot for some picnicking and clambaking (clambakes were apparently a very big thing in early Olympia). That made Butler Cove, for a time, one of the favorite recreation spots in Olympia. 

Not Top Dog Anymore

According to the Olympia Historical Society, the spot fell out of favor after automobiles became readily available and the steam ships became less popular. After that, it became a neighborhood, as it remains today.

Recently I found an interesting news article related to that transformation from recreational spot to residential.

Clipping of 1893 newspaper announcing the sale of Butler's Cove, Washington
The Washington Standard Olympia, Washington January 13, 1893. Retrieved from Newspapers.com.

The article announces that the Butler Cove Land Company will be selling properties at Butler Cove for $125 each, which could optionally be paid with just $10 down and then $5 a month until paid in full. $125 would be about $3,700 in 2021 dollars.

The sales were to be done in rooms 13 and 14 at "Woodruff Block," which I assume to be the Labor Temple where the Brotherhood now is. 

For me, it’s kind of surreal finding this. 1893, in my mind, is ancient history. For whatever reason, I never imagine it having newspapers. I especially never would have guessed that the papers would have survived to be digitally today.

So, there’s your Historical Northwest News Nugget for you.

Happy nomaddig, friends.

Northwest Nuggets: Nirvana Becomes Nirvana at the Tacoma Community World Theater

On March 19, 1988, Nirvana played under the name Nirvana for the very first time. This historic moment didn’t happen in Seattle, nor even in Aberdeen—it went down at the Community World Theater in Tacoma.

Before going by their new name, Nirvana went by Ted Ed Fred, Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, and Bliss (which is intriguingly similar to the term “nirvana”). You can see all these names listed on the poster promoting the event.

Thankfully, the Community World Theater event was recorded—a feat that wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous in 1988 as it is today. You can hear the whole show on the Youtube video below.

For a whopping five dollars, people were given the privilege of participating in music history—even if they didn’t realize it at the time. Who could have known that grunge was about to explode out of the then-remote Pacific Northwest?

The Community World Theater recording has the best “Big Cheese” version I’ve ever heard—EVER. In these pre-Grohl days, the band sounded fantastic. It may be my imagination, but in some ways they sound tighter in this early show than they did after they went Big Time.

The band they opened for was named Lush (if anyone out there has more info on this band, I would LOVE to hear it). There were also other “special guests to be announced.”

The Community World Theater was located at 5441 South “M” Street, from 1987 to 1988. I’m working on finding people who were there. If any of you happen upon this blog, please do contact me.

I’ve found good coverage of the Community World Theater at Nirvana Legacy. The best resource I know of, though, is at Mike Ziegler’s site.

I’m a freelance music journalist, and I would be sincerely grateful and interested to talk to anyone who was at this particular show or even just the Community World Theater in general. So, if you, dear reader, happen to be such a person, please do let me know.

Thanks, friends. Keep Northwesting.

Nomad

Northwest Nuggets: Fred Crisman’s Murder of a City, Tacoma

Fred Crisman, UFOs, and the Murder of a City

The Maury Island Incident is a well-known (though perhaps not as well-known as it should be) Washington state UFO event. Whether you consider the event to be a legitimate UFO contact or just a hoax, it’s a story that lives on to this day, and Fred Crisman played an important role in it.

Less well-known than the “Incident” is that Crisman was also involved in a weird aspect of the John F. Kennedy assassination, being fingered as one of the “Three Tramps.”

Even LESS well-known than that is that Crisman spent years raising hell around the city of Tacoma under the pseudonym “Jon Gold.”

As “Jon Gold,” Crisman ran a radio show spreading what some call “conspiracy theory” and others call “investigative journalism.” Much like the UFO stuff, it really depends on which side of the aisle you choose to stand.

Out of those Gold radio shows was spawned a book titled Murder of a City, Tacoma, published in 1970. The Northwest Nomad recently got his hands on a copy of that fascinating slice of weird history.

Murder of a City, Tacoma was written off in its day as a “rant” and basically a bunch of paranoid conspiratorial lunacy. I’m partway through the book, and it doesn’t seem that way to me.

I need to research and verify the stuff he’s saying, of course, but so far, the book reads more like an expose of the political corruption Crisman says afflicted Tacoma in that time.

Whether there was any meat to Crisman’s claims remains to be seen, but we do know that Tacoma was a city in dire straits in the 1970s and all the way up to the 2000s, when the city’s famously successful revitalization effort began to take hold. It doesn’t seem (to me, anyway) to be a major stretch that there may indeed have been a lot of corruption in the city at that time.

The Northwest Nuggets series is designed for little slices of Northwest history and travel, so I’ll be doing a full examination of the book in another post. Here, I just wanted to bring The Murder of a City, Tacoma to light.

(UPDATE: I’ve started covering Murder of a City, Tacoma in earnest here.)