Bellingham was incorporated in 1903 by combining Bellingham, Whatcom, Fairhaven, and Sehome into one city. Whatcom Falls was settled in 1852 when Captain Henry Roeder built a sawmill there. Coal mining began in 1854, and the bay served as a staging area for the ill-fated Fraser River gold rush (1857–58). The “Old Town” area of Whatcom was founded in 1852 with Roeder’s Mill. A coal mine founded in 1854 led to the creation of Sehome, a place of downtown. Dan Harris founded Fairhaven in 1883, and it was a large commercial district and harbor located around his homestead on Padden Creek.
Railway connections and improved harbor facilities in the early 20th Century led to the development of Bellingham’s timber-pulp operations, fish canneries, and pleasure boat building industries. Mountain Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is near Bellingham, which is also a gateway to the San Juan Islands. Whatcom Community College was founded in 1967 and Western Washington University in 1893. The Whatcom Museum of History and Art contains documents and artifacts on local history in four buildings.
Below are some stunning historical photos of Bellingham from the late 19th and 20th Centuries