Keeping History Alive on Mercer Island  


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Mercer Island Historical Society

Founded 1954

Keeping History Alive on Mercer Island

A Washington State Non-profit Charitable organization with 501(c)(3) status.

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"Dawn on the Island"

A Video of Interviews about early Mercer Island

Don't forget Our Book*

Available at Island Books
For details on our book click here

*Top 20 seller at Island Books once again in 2019!

An Insider’s Look at Seattle Times’

NOW & THEN Column

Tuesday, November 10th, 7 PM

On line with ZOOM and the Mercer Island Library

The Latest Now & Then Book

“Now & Then” is a popular photo-history column in the Sunday Seattle Times’ PacificNW Magazine and available online. An old “then” photo of Seattle is compared side-by-side to a modern “now” photo accompanied by a well-researched article showcasing Seattle’s fascinating history.

The current columnists Clay Eals and Jean Sherrard (image at right) will share a behind the scenes look at their popular photo-history column, originated by Paul Dorpat who retired in 2019. They will discuss research methods and innovative touches included in ‘web extras’ they provide for each column. They’ll also pay homage to Paul Dorpat’s signature warmth and humor in his columns, which they will strive to carry on.

“Now & Then” can be seen at:, or

Please register at
You will receive the Zoom link within 24 hours of the program.
If you have trouble registering or need help, contact Vicki Heck, Librarian at

In 1940, Tunnel Vision Created a Connection to the Eastside

By Clay Eals

As spooky as it is ethereal, our “Then” photo (above) suggests Seattle barreling through a spacey cylinder to meet the future. The scene typifies our city’s bent for transforming its topography to satisfy urban dreams.

Eighty years ago, on July 2, 1940, an audacious dream — twin tunnels drilled through Mount Baker Ridge to connect Seattle to Mercer Island and the greater Eastside via an innovative bridge with floating concrete pontoons that crossed Lake Washington — became a reality that countless motorists take for granted today.

From the outset, the inextricably linked tunnels and bridge personified popularity, drawing 11,611 vehicles in the first 10-1/2 hours alone. To sustain this full-to-bursting stretch of what became an interstate artery, a companion tunnel and span were added a half-century later while, astonishingly, the original bridge sank and was quickly rebuilt.

Time was, Seattleites traveled east only by ferrying across or circumnavigating the elongated next-door lake. Some, including James Wood, Seattle Times associate editor, wanted to keep it that way. ...more

Ahead of the Curve-Washington Women, 1910-2020
John C. Hughes and Bob Young

Presented Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Now Available on Video (below)

Washington has been Ahead of the Curve since it first granted women the right to vote in 1883. In 1910, our state became the fifth to include women's suffrage in its constitution — a decade ahead of the nation. And Washington women keep blazing trails in fields from science to bridge building. Discover the pioneering spirit of some larger-than-life women and little-known stories with big impacts on Washington, the nation and beyond.

Ahead of the Curve, by John Hughes and Bob Young spotlights Washington women who have led the way -- from the schoolroom to the courts, from science to bridge building, from philanthropy to technology. Many of their stories are little-known, yet these women have made indelible impacts on Washington, our nation and the whole world.

John C. Hughes is the chief historian for the Office of the Secretary of State. He retired as editor and publisher of The Daily World in Aberdeen in 2008 after a 42-year career in journalism. He has won awards for reporting, photography, historical features, editorials and columns.

The Mercer Island Historical Society was pleased to partner with the Friends of the Mercer Island Library and the King County Library System for this presentation.

"History at your fingertips!"

Thanks to community donations, we have digitized 24 years' worth of the Mercer Island Reporter, accessible for free on-line -- at The years currently digitized--and key-work searchable--are: 1968-1983, 1994, 1995, 1997-2000, 2004, and 2005.

A special thank you to the donors who've contributed to our digitization project thus far: Cyclemates Bike, the Kiwanis Club of Mercer Island, the Mercer Island Rotary Club and the Mercer Island Community Fund. We welcome individuals' donations on our "Donate" page.