Highway Map of Washington, Record Series, Map Records, General Map Collection, 1851-2005, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
Much has changed since the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which created the interstate highway system. Before then, drivers made do with smaller roads, many of which still exist today with different names. Highways, exploding in size following the decline of passenger train travel, had the ability to make or break towns and cities. The above image shows the highways of Washington c. 1927. Note the lack of the now ubiquitous I-5 and I-90 corridors. It is hard to imagine Washington today without them. Yet this snapshot is preserved in the digital archives. The Washington State Archives has a large collection of highway maps. Search “highways” on the Digital Archives main page to find more.
Flood Waters Rising in Residential Area of Walla Walla, Walla Walla Flood Control Commission Photographs, 1931, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
For three harrowing days in 1931, Walla Walla’s streets turned into rivers, alleys into streams, and curbs into waterfalls. The image above is one of a series of photos taken by the Walla Walla Flood Control Commission and collected by the Washington State Archives. The flood began on March 31st and was caused by nearby Mill Creek overflowing into the city. It damaged roads, bridges and many automobiles. Damage was estimated at around one million dollars. Mercifully, only one fatality was reported. Following the disaster, the Army Corps of Engineers dammed Mill Creek, preventing future flooding. The Walla Walla Flood Control Commission Collection is a testament to the power of nature and a reminder to always be vigilant.