Prehistoric Giants: The SeaTac Sloth
Let's kick things off with a trip back in time—way, way back, 12,700 years ago, to a time when giants roamed the earth, including a giant sloth that was found right here in Seattle Southside. We may think of sloths as rather cute, cuddly, and huggable creatures that climb trees, but the ground-dwelling Megalonyx that used to roam our region was about 10 feet long and weighed roughly 2,200 pounds.
How do we know this giant used to roam our neck of the woods? During the construction of an expansion at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 1961, workers uncovered an incredibly well-preserved fossilized skeleton of a megalonyx as they were working to put in a new runway. Today, the Fascinating Tours experience from the Highline Historical Museum will take you past the section of the airport where the sloth was found, and back at the museum you can see a replica of the fossil to get a real sense of just how huge this creature was!
One of the First European Settlements in the PNW was at Foster Links Golf Course
Joseph and Stephen Foster established one of the first European settlements along the Duwamish River in 1852; a site that would later become Foster Links Golf Course. After settling in the area, Joseph Foster later served as an early Washington Territorial legislator and the first superintendent of schools (hence Foster High School). You can still find a plaque commemorating the site of Foster’s original homestead at Tukwila’s oldest maple tree at Foster Golf Links.
Woman-Owned Businesses are Big in Seattle Southside
The Truth is Out There: The Origins of the Men In Black
In June of 1947, weeks before the infamous Roswell incident, Fred Crisman and Harold Dahl had a close encounter off the shores of Des Moines. Allegedly, a group of UFOs rained down a metallic substance on their boat, injuring one and killing Dahl’s beloved dog! In the days following the encounter, a mysterious man in black made contact with Dahl and threatened him not to tell anyone of the incident or “bad things would happen”. The shockwaves from these otherworldly events are still felt today.
Years later, local filmmakers would recreate the encounter in the 2014 short film The Maury Island Incident. Every year, two different celebrations mark our local connection to the out-of-this-world: in Burien, the local community gathers to celebrate the otherworldly and watch the short film at the Burien UFO Festival, and in Des Moines, the Men In Black Birthday Bash marks the anniversary of that first ever sighting of a mysterious man in black. Even outside of these annual events, there's a touch of the alien always present thanks to the Maury Island Incident Mural and the nearby sculpture "Raven Discovers Spaceship", but we'll talk more about outdoor art later.
Grandview Off-Leash Dog Park Used to be a NIKE Missile Launch Site
With all the happy dogs frolicking around at Grandview Off-Leash Dog Park nowadays, you’d never know that the location used to house a Cold War-era missile defense system. The Nike Project came about in the late 1940s as a defense system against hypothetical incoming Soviet bombers. Nearly a dozen Nike Missile sites were established in Washington state in the 40s and 50s, and one such site is just off Military Road. Since the Nike project fell out of use in the 60s and 70s, most of the sites fell into disrepair and were forgotten about. The launch magazine off Military Road was covered in soil and is now part of the Grandview Off-Leash Dog Park!
And speaking of Military Road, that stretch of roadway has a long and storied history of its own. Take a minute to think about the history of the site the next time you let Fido run wild at Grandview. This spot is a part of our Scenes program highlighting local history, culture, and art. Learn more about the history of this site and the other stops along the Scenes trail.
The Unsolved Mystery of D.B. Cooper
Local Legends: Bruce Bickford
Bruce Bickford is a legend among animation enthusiasts. Born in Seattle in 1947, Bickford has lived his life almost exclusively in SeaTac, Washington. He began his animation career as a teen, animating clay figures driving model cars, before graduating high school and enlisting in the Marines. After serving in the Marines for three years, including eleven months in Vietnam, Bruce returned home and got right back into animation, producing a few short films.
In 1973, Bickford was introduced to legendary musician, Frank Zappa. The two would eventually collaborate on multiple musical films, including: Baby Snakes and The Amazing Mister Bickford. Since that time, Bickford has continued to produce striking images in films and shorts, using claymation, stop-motion, and line animation, working mostly out of his garage in SeaTac. For more information on Bruce, please visit brettingram.org.
Foster High School is the Most Diverse in the Country
The Seattle Southside region is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse places in the world. This diversity is reflected in the red-hot international dining scene, but there’s likely no better example of the region’s diversity than at the local schools. Foster High School in Tukwila is one of the most diverse schools in the country with students from 50 countries who speak more than 80 different languages.
This beautiful diversity is celebrated with dozens of flags hanging in the cafeteria of Foster High. While Foster High School is in the Tukwila School District, the Highline School District, which covers a large portion of Seattle Southside, has 99 different languages spoken by students throughout its school. Such wonderful diversity helps make Seattle Southside the incredible place that it is.
The Area is Full of Unusual Art
Seattle Southside is home to lots of incredible sights, but one of the most unexpected things we have is a collection of unusual outdoor art. There's nowhere else in the world you can see a sculpture of a man kissing a fish that was supposedly once his girlfriend, a mural depicting that UFO incident we mentioned earlier, and a gigantic piece of art that was once nothing more than industrial waste. And there's so much more to find, from utility box art to sculptures scattered across the city of Des Moines all the way to beautiful installations celebrating native stories in our parks.
The Seattle Pet Cemetery: Final Resting Place of Beloved Animals
Pet Haven Cemetery, located in Seattle Southside along historic Military Road, might appear fairly mundane to those unfamiliar with its history. This little cemetery is a recent addition to the list of King County Historic Landmarks, thanks to its being the final resting place not just for beloved pets, but for decorated police K-9 units, and even celebrity animals. Little Tyke, a lioness who was a vegetarian, is buried here, as is a goat that served as a mascot in the 1960 presidential campaign. This unique site is also home to lots of interesting art and is definitely worth a visit.
George the Ghost: The Haunted Event Center
When you see the historic Landmark Event Center for the first time, the sprawling complex might just take your breath away. Built by the Freemasons in the 1920s as a retirement center, the building resembles the forever haunted mansion in Stephen King’s Rose Red, so it may not come as a surprise that the building is famously haunted. A rumored former Grand Master of the lodge named George haunts the historic hallways of the Landmark. George is typically seen roaming the halls in a full tuxedo. Although multiple Georges are pictured outside of the Grand Hall, it is unknown which George this ghost might be. The Landmark Event Center was vacant for years as it was on the market but it has been recently purchased by an area investment group. However, it’s unknown what they plan to do with the facility…or George.
Lightning Round: Did You Know...?
Finally, there's a ton of little factoids that are just fun about our region, for example did you know that: