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Feb. 13: A noteworthy date in WA history

by Brian Zylstra | February 13th, 2014

HoodCanal1979

The Hood Canal Bridge after half of it collapsed in a windstorm in 1979. (Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Tucked between President Lincoln’s birthday and Valentine’s Day, Feb. 13 might not seem all that remarkable. But two noteworthy events in Washington history occurred on this date within a two-year span.

The first happened in 1979 when half of the Hood Canal Bridge on State Route 104 connecting the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas sank during a windstorm. The rebuilt bridge opened to traffic on Oct. 3, 1982.

AR-senate-1981-01-22_05

Senate Majority Leader Jeannette Hayner with Gov. John Spellman and Sen. George Sellar in 1981.

In 1981, exactly two years after the bridge fell, Republican Sen. Jeannette Hayner rose to become the first female majority leader in Washington State Senate history. Hayner was elevated from Republican leader to majority leader when state Sen. Peter von Reichbauer announced earlier that day that he was leaving the Democratic Caucus to become a Republican. At the time, the Democrats held a razor-thin 25-24 majority, so his switch gave Republicans control of the Senate for the rest of the 1981 session.

In honor of these two memorable events, the State Archives retrieved these photos of the bridge and Hayner.

One Response to “Feb. 13: A noteworthy date in WA history”

  1. I was out on the water with my dad in a 16 foot aluminum rowboat on Feb 12, 1979. We were fishing, but the winds kept rising, and although we were catching fish, eventually we decided to flee. It was a wild ride, but we made it home safe, and then the next day, heard the bridge had gone down. It was one of the scariest moments in my memory of being out of Puget Sound.

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