Local history hits the high schools


The Mirror

Students in Federal Way high schools next year will have the tools needed to learn more about the history of Federal Way.

At a school board meeting Dec. 11, Federal Way Historical Society president Diana Noble-Gulliford presented the board with five copies of a timeline detailing historical events of significance to Federal Way. The book includes events in Federal Way and the surrounding areas covered by the Federal Way School District.

Noble-Gulliford hopes the timelines, bound in spiral books more than an inch thick, will be used by history teachers and librarians in high schools next year. By 2009, the historical society aims to present the timelines to all schools in Federal Way.

The timeline project was completed after more than 300 hours of work by historical society members. The project began in 2001. Historical society board member Dick Caster compiled and wrote the book with the help of fellow board member Lynda Jenkins.

The timeline begins in May 1792, when Captain George Vancouver anchored off the northern shore of Vashon Island, in the Puget Sound area near Federal Way. It mentions Old Military Road being constructed in 1857 as the first dirt road through the area. The final entry is October 2005, when the Midway Drive-In Theater was completely demolished to make way for a Lowe’s Home Improvement store.

Presenting the timeline to Federal Way schools was part of the historical society’s mission to educate the people of Federal Way about local history, Noble-Gulliford said.

“We want to continue to have an open dialogue with the district and be here as a resource,” she said. “It’s our gift to them and it’s up to them how they want to use it.”

Barb Barney, a historical society board member, noted that the historical society office is also open for Federal Way area students to research local history and review relevant documents. There are rooms full of file cabinets brimming with information about Federal Way neighborhoods, people and events. Even current public figures, such as Barney’s husband, Ed Barney, a Federal Way School Board member, have files at the historical society.

“The data is here for people who want to look,” Barney said.

Federal Way School Board president Dave Larson said he was grateful for the donated historical timeline.

“I think this is a great thing because one of the things missing from Federal Way is a sense of historical identity. If people start studying our history, it gives us a better sense of what our historical identity is,” Larson said. “Seattle has its stories, Tacoma has its stories and Federal Way needs to develop its stories and its history.”

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

For more information about the Federal Way Historical Society and to view the timeline, visit

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