Visitors to the Bellingham area especially enjoy strolling through the historic Fairhaven district, where there are plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Unique shops, locally owned restaurants, green spaces, and beautiful views of the bay and the San Juan Islands are some of the attractions to the district. The brick buildings and roads and the charming Victorian homes dotting the hillside above Fairhaven all tell the story of the neighborhood that was the first of three towns that later combined to become modern day Bellingham.
Before the first European settlers came to the region in the mid-19th century, the only inhabitants were the Salish coastal tribes that made their homes along the shoreline and on all the islands dotting the Puget Sound. In 1858 the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush attracted thousands of miners to the area from California. Unfortunately, due to mining permit regulations, the boom quickly went bust, and the population dropped almost as quickly as it had grown. In the early 1890’s three railroad lines arrived, which connected Fairhaven to the rest of the nation. Due to the ease of transport out of the area, the lumber industry exploded in the region, again bringing large numbers of laborers and their families. The lush and plentiful forests surrounding the township supported thousands of workers, who eventually formed the three towns of Whatcom, Sehome, and Fairhaven. Fairhaven was officially incorporated in 1890. In addition to the success of the lumber industry, the water front in 1890’s Fairhaven was home to several salmon canneries, the evidence of which you can still see in the bricks, concrete, and debris visible along the shoreline of Bellingham Bay. There are a lot more stories to hear about the historic Fairhaven district and its inhabitants. You can use this map to take a self-guided tour of Fairhaven and hear some of the stories for yourself.