Military Road Project

Coming up – the Military Road Telegraph Sesquicentennial Project

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In October of 1864, a group of workers was working its way steadily north along Military Road, installing the poles and telegraph wires that would connect Seattle at last to the rest of the world.  Back then, they called it “tied by lightning!” — and everyone was thrilled with the prospect of being able to stay in closer touch with relatives or business associates back East.

In October 2014, we’ll be celebrating 150 years of the arrival of the telegraph with a series of events along Military Road in South King County. Kevin Saville, president of the Seattle-Tacoma chapter of the Morse Telegraph Club, will be installing hands-on telegraph demonstration stations in Federal Way, Kent, SeaTac and Tukwila that will be hosted by the local historical societies.  Here are the dates:

In Federal Way
September 30 – October 9 (Tuesday – Thursday, 10 AM – 2 PM; also Saturday, October 4, 12-4 PM) at the Historical Society of Federal Way, 2645 S 312th Street, Federal Way, with additional displays from the era.

In Kent
October 1-11 (Wednesday – Saturday, 12-4 PM) at the Greater Kent Historical Society, 855 E Smith Street, Kent, with additional displays from the era.

In SeaTac
October 2-3 (9 AM – 5 PM) at SeaTac City Hall, 4800 S 188th Street, SeaTac
In conjunction with this demo, the Highline Historical Society is hosting a special telegraph exhibit at SeaTac City Hall through the month of October.

In Tukwila
October 5 (12:30-5 PM) at Church by the Side of the Road, 3455 S 148th Street, Tukwila. Hosted by the Tukwila Historical Society.

Please plan to stop by any one of these free, hands-on demonstrations. Recommended for school classes and youth groups (with appropriate number of adult chaperones), as well as for adults.  This series of site-specific telegraph demonstrations was made possible with the support of 4Culture.  For more information about this project, contact

Also, Tied by Lightning Community Conversations…

In addition, there will be two “Tied by Lightning” Community Conversations that will be held along the Road in October.  This is an informal chance to learn a little more about Military Road’s fascinating history, and to share your own stories of life along Military Road.

October 15, 6:30-8:30 PM – at Mike’s Community Cup, 16260 Military Road S, SeaTac – facilitated by author Michael Schein.

October 28, 7-8:30 PM – at Iglesia Rey de Reyes (the old Star Lake School), 3212 S 272nd Street, Kent – facilitated by Green River College history professor David Norberg.

The Tied by Lightning conversations are being funded by Humanities Washington.

Before the “Charge” – Pickett and Military Road

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One of the most heavily-used routes through South King County today is also one of the very oldest roads in Washington State, and it was built by men who achieved the pinnacle of national prominence in their day. Four historical societies in South King County to draw attention to the historical significance of Military Road.

In April 2013, the Highline Historical Society hosted a presentation of “General George Pickett, His Life & Times” featuring National Park Service interpretive ranger Michael Vouri, who gave a lively, one-man performance of Pickett’s life.

Jefferson Davis and the making of Military Road














The Pacific Northwest played an often-overlooked role in the Civil War and its continuing legacy through to the Civil Rights Movement.  South King County historian Karen Meador has made several appearances to speak on the topic “An Unlikely Champion: Jefferson Davis and the Pacific Northwest.” She relates the future Confederate President’s considerable role in the settlement of the Pacific Northwest, including the construction of Military Road, right here in South King County.

Thanks to editor Mark Klaas and the Kent Reporter for this great story about a program that Karen presented at the Kent Senior Activity Center (under the auspices of the Greater Kent Historical Society) in February, 2013. Click here:


The Civil War in Washington Territory

We’re very excited to announce the first program coming out of the Military Road/Civil War Sesquicentennial Project, a joint undertaking of four local historical societies.

On Saturday, October 27, at 11:30 AM, the Historical Society of Federal Way is proud to present Dr. Lorraine McConaghy who will speak on “The Civil War in Washington Territory.” Her talk will take place at the Federal Way Library, 34200 1st Way S, Federal Way.

The Civil War was not just about battles, it was about issues, too — and the people of Washington Territory fully participated in the debate. Now, during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, you can learn more about the hot topics of that era — territorial attitudes regarding race and slavery, agitation for northwest secession, and federal suppression of freedom of the press.

McConaghy, public instructor for the Museum of History & Industry as well as an instructor at the University of Washington, gives a lively presentation. In addition, Civil War re-enactor Carl Hicks will be on hand, dressed in uniform and displaying items that a Civil War era soldier would have used.

Please join us for this free program, which has been generously funded by the Friends of the Federal Way Libraries and the Historical Society of Federal Way.

Military Road – at the crossroads of history

Four local historical societies are collaborating on a project to draw attention to the remarkable history of a road that is often traveled by many of us who live in South King County.  Did you know that Military Road is one of the very oldest roads in the State of Washington?  And that it was built by some of the people who went on to make names for themselves in the Civil War?

Learn more about the work being undertaken by the Historical Society of Federal Way, the Greater Kent Historical Society, the Highline Historical Society and the Tukwila Historical Society to make sure that the significance of this road is not forgotten.

Take a peek at the brochure that we are beginning to circulate:

That is why, in conjunction with the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War, we are planning programs, exhibits, and other events along the road, and we welcome individuals or businesses who want to sponsor any of these activities.  Contact