July 26, 2023
Whatcom Museum Opens New Historical Exhibit at Old City Hall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 27, 2023—The Whatcom Museum is excited to open a new exhibit at Old City Hall highlighting The Mount Baker Marathon. On Thursday, August 9, 1911, as the hour of 10:00pm fast approached, twenty-thousand spectators swarmed the streets of Bellingham to witness fourteen contestants embark on the first recorded mountain adventure race in American history. Competitors raced from the bay city at outrageous speeds aboard stripped-down automobiles and an old Iron Horse toward two competing trailheads at the foot of Mount Baker. Disembarking from their contrivances, they ran in darkness through dense forest, on snow and ice fields, over glaciers and crevasses, against savage storms and whiteout conditions to the 10,781-foot summit and back again. All for a cash prize in gold.

No one could have predicted a year earlier that the opening of the Mount Baker wilderness to tourism, development, and potential national park status would depend in part, on the outcome of a race involving loggers, laborers, coal miners and packers, a student, a timber-cruiser, a wrestler, a poultry breeder, and a bedspring maker.

The Whatcom Museum celebrates both the 110th anniversary of the last Mount Baker Marathon race (1911-1913) and the 50th anniversary of the present Ski to Sea race (1973-2023). On exhibition are numerous images spanning the marathon and Ski to Sea years, as well as film, sound recordings, and memorabilia.

Watch the movie The Mountain Runners, at the Pickford Film Center on Wed., May 24, 6pm. The film tells the story of the Mount Baker Marathon, America’s first mountain endurance/adventure foot race. More info at https://pickfordfilmcenter.org/movie/mountain-runners.

Mountain Runners will be on exhibit May 27 – September 10, 2023 at the Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., Wed. – Sun., Noon – 5 p.m. For more information visit www.whatcommuseum.org.

The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours and activities about art, nature and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is in the heart of Bellingham’s downtown Arts District.