The Seattle Files

Chris Allen

On each episode, Chris Allen gets together with a local comedian and teaches them a story about our local history.
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Episode 57: The Ghoul of Grays Harbor

50:48 | Oct 31st, 2017

Deranged serial killer Billy Gohl might be the most prolific serial killer in US history.  Estimates of his death toll range as high as 200. Today’s Guests: Jekeva Phillips is a writer, performer, and producer of the arts. She is the editor-in-chief ...Show More
Episode 56: Louie Louie

34:45 | Oct 24th, 2017

Louie Louie is a sweet and simple love song, but because of an indecipherable recording by The Kingsmen in the 1960s it became the subject of a year long FBI investigation over indecency charges. Today’s Guests: Jordan Moeller is a Seattle-based sket...Show More
Episode 55: The Rajneeshpuram Cult

48:00 | Oct 17th, 2017

Before changing his name to Osho, spiritual leader Rajneesh led a cult in Oregon that was responsible for the largest bio-terrorist attack every committed on US soul. Today’s Guests: Samantha Demboski is an improv and sketch comedian, fringe theater ...Show More
Episode 54: The Ballard Locks

50:04 | Oct 10th, 2017

When it came to connecting Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound, engineering genius Hiram M. Chittenden developed a system of locks that is a modern marvel. Today’s Guests: Ben Lidgus is a cast member at ComedySportz in Fremont and a tutor fo...Show More
Episode 53: Bobo the Gorilla

54:14 | Oct 3rd, 2017

Can you raise a Gorilla to act like a human?  No you can’t, but that didn’t stop one Anacortes family from trying. Today’s Guests: Caitie Auld majored in Theatre at the University of Puget Sound and since graduating in 2010 she’s galavanted around Se...Show More
Episode 52: The Weyerhaeuser Kidnapping

39:46 | Sep 26th, 2017

In 1935 young George Weyerhaeuser was kidnapped walking home from school in Tacoma.  Over the following days the wealthy lumber family scrambled to meet the ransom demands and get him back safe. Today’s Guests: Jeffrey Nickels is a Seattle-based sket...Show More
Episode 51: Lavender Country

36:26 | Sep 19th, 2017

Gay country and western band Lavender Country released their first album in 1973.  Despite brilliant songwriting and musicianship the band never achieved mainstream success due to their defiant and “out” content. Today’s Guests: John Wachter is a loc...Show More
Episode 50: Mount St. Helens

42:14 | Sep 12th, 2017

In 1980 Mount St. Helens erupted, shooting ash all across the world.  While most panicked, one strong willed resident refused to leave. Today’s Guests: Emmett Montgomery is a comedian/storyteller who was made in Utah but has lived in Seattle for most...Show More
Episode 49: Doc Maynard

47:33 | Sep 5th, 2017

After his marriage fell apart in Ohio Dr. David Swinson Maynard headed west on the Oregon Trail to get a fresh start in California.  On the way he found love, changed course, and helped found the city of Seattle. Today’s Guests: Anthony is a Seattle ...Show More
Episode 48: Wild Man of the Wynoochee

39:44 | Aug 29th, 2017

John Tornow was an outcast from society who chose to live alone in the seclusion of the woods rather than in society.  After a family dispute turned deadly he became a hunted man in a wilderness he knew better than anyone. Today’s Guests: Mike Schube...Show More
Episode 47: Federal Way

42:21 | Aug 22nd, 2017

Between Seattle and Tacoma sits a town everyone has been through but no one knows anything about.  What is the history behind the worst named city in Washington? Today’s Guests: Greg Stackhouse is a regular with Unexpected Productions since 1994, and...Show More
Episode 46: Phoenix Jones

45:10 | Aug 15th, 2017

A costumed man patrols the streets of Seattle looking for crime to fight.  Some call him a hero and others call him delusional. Who is Phoenix Jones? Today’s Guests: Daniel Stoltenberg is a local actor, theatre educator, playwright, and lyricist, as ...Show More
Episode 45: Black Market Butter

39:34 | Aug 8th, 2017

A notoriously corrupt Spokane police department spent the Great Depression robbing creameries and selling the stolen butter on the black market.  A murder committed during one of these robberies went unsolved for over fifty years until a modern day i...Show More
Episode 44: The Cult of Ramtha

47:59 | Aug 1st, 2017

J.Z. Knight claims she can channel a 35,000 warrior spirit from the lost continent of Lemuria.  Along with her spirit guide she runs a cult out of the small Washington town of Yelm and has thousands of followers worldwide. Today’s Guests: Caitlin Obo...Show More
Episode 43: Mayor Bertha Knight Landes

40:28 | Jul 25th, 2017

Just a few years after women won the right to vote in Washington State, Seattle elected Bertha Knight Landes as it’s mayor.  A shrewd politician and dedicated public servant, she served as the first female mayor of a major American city. Today’s Gues...Show More
Episode 42: War on Monkey Island

49:30 | Jul 18th, 2017

Guy Phinney was a lumber baron who built a menagerie on his 200 acre tract of land east of Green Lake.  In the 1940s it became home to a bizarre spectacle as the monkeys in captivity went to war with each other. Today’s Guests: Amalia is a proud Seat...Show More
Episode 41: The Denny Regrade

59:59 | Sep 6th, 2016

The landscape of Seattle has been drastically altered by man.  At the site of present day Belltown there used to be a massive hill stretching from Pike Place Market to the Seattle Center.  What happened to this piece of land? Today’s Guests: John Kei...Show More
Episode 40: The Love Israel Cult

1:04:13 | Aug 2nd, 2016

Love Israel and his followers believed we are all one, love is the answer, and drugs got you closer to God.  They lived on Queen Anne Hill for years until cocaine and financial troubles tore them apart. Today’s Guest: Maddie Downes is a writer, comed...Show More
Episode 39: Henry Yesler

38:17 | Jul 26th, 2016

Henry Yesler’s sawmill transformed the young city of Seattle and brought jobs, money, and opportunity.  This two time mayor and captain of industry led a fascinating personal life with an open marriage and attempts to communicate with the dead. Today...Show More
Episode 38: Bigfoot

1:02:18 | Jul 19th, 2016

The mythological creature of Bigfoot has origins in Coast Salish legends and has been a staple of the Northwest for years.  While there have been thousands of sightings, there is no clear evidence that the beast actually exists. Today’s Guests: Nancy...Show More
Episode 37: The Seattle Pilots

41:50 | Jul 12th, 2016

Before Seattle had the Mariners it had the Pilots.  Seattle’s first major league baseball team was a disaster, the stadium was a wreck, they lasted one season and finished in last place. Today’s Guest: Justin Sund is a Seattle based (former) improv c...Show More
Episode 36: The Mercer Girls

40:00 | Jul 5th, 2016

The Mercers were one of the first families to homestead in Seattle.  On the frontier there was a severe shortage of women, and young Asa Mercer decided to take matters into his own hands and solve the problem personally.  It did not go well. Today’s ...Show More
Episode 35: The Chinese Riots

38:19 | Jun 28th, 2016

America has a history of institutionalized racism and the Northwest is no exception.  After the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 a large portion of the white population of Seattle decided to take matters into their own hands and drive Chinese immigrants...Show More
Episode 34: Chief Seattle

43:00 | Jun 21st, 2016

Chief Seattle was a young boy when white explorers made first contact with the natives on Puget Sound.  Over the course of his life he saw the complete transformation of his ancestral homeland and displacement of his people to small reservations. Tod...Show More
Episode 33: Women’s Suffrage

40:45 | Jun 14th, 2016

The fight for women’s suffrage in Washington was always one step forward, two steps back.  In the 1880s the right was granted, only to be taken away of few years later. Today’s Guest: Laura Turner is a local improviser who performs regularly with Jet...Show More
Episode 32: Vic Meyers

49:42 | Jun 7th, 2016

Vic Meyers was a successful band leader and vaudeville entertainer.  His joke candidacy for Seattle mayor led to a career in politics and a five time stint as Lieutenant Governor. Today’s Guest: Jim Stewart Allen is a stand up who found his comedic g...Show More
Episode 31: Dave Beck

47:00 | May 31st, 2016

Dave Beck worked his way up from abject poverty to become president of the most powerful union in the country.  He shaped the city the way he wanted it to be, until he abused his power and lost it all. Today’s Guest: David Gordon was raised on Vashon...Show More
Episode 30: Alexander Pantages

41:03 | May 24th, 2016

Alexander Pantages ran away from his home in the Greek Isles at age 9.  He wandered the world, worked hard, and became one of the most powerful men in the history of show business. Today’s Guest: Brandon Felker is a local Seattle actor and improviser...Show More
Episode 29: Marion Zioncheck

35:19 | May 17th, 2016

Marion Zioncheck grew up as a dirt poor Polish immigrant in Seattle’s Skid Road district.  He pulled himself up by his bootstraps, became a lawyer, and was elected to congress from Washington’s first district.  The future looked bright, but an undiag...Show More
Episode 28: The City of Ballard

33:31 | May 10th, 2016

William Ballard was Captain of a small ship in Puget Sound’s mosquito fleet.  A losing coin toss left him in possession of 160 acres of land north of Seattle which came to bear his name.  A contentious battle over water left the young city of Ballard...Show More
Episode 27: Mother Ryther

31:59 | May 3rd, 2016

Olive Ryther was a housewife and mother who made a simple pledge in 1884 to never turn away a child she could help.  Over the next 50 years she took in over 3,000 needy children and family members.  Her legacy lives on to this day with the Ryther Org...Show More
Episode 26: The Reverend Mark Matthews

32:37 | Apr 26th, 2016

The Reverend Mark Matthews believed that faith and politics should intertwined, which made him one of the most powerful and controversial pastors in the country.  He was a complex figure, straddling two very different times in history. Today’s Guest:...Show More
Episode 25: The 1962 World’s Fair

38:03 | Apr 19th, 2016

Ten million people visited the Century 21 Exposition, better known as the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.  It started as the idea of a man whose life was touched by a similar event years earlier, and gave us the Space Needle, the Seattle Center campus, an...Show More
Episode 24: Anna Louise Strong

36:16 | Apr 12th, 2016

Anna Louise Strong was one of the most influential socialist writers of her generation.  Her politics took her all over the world, but she is most remembered for the work she did in Seattle. Today’s Guest: Glenn Bristol is a Seattle native who has be...Show More
Episode 23: Harry Allen

40:24 | Apr 5th, 2016

Harry Allen was born Nell Pickerell in 1882.  The life of a trans man at the turn of the century wasn’t easy, and his life was fraught with violence, heartbreak, and trouble with the law. Today’s Guest: Nick Edwards is an actor of both scripted and i...Show More
Episode 22: Strike!

42:24 | Mar 29th, 2016

A small dispute over shipbuilder’s pay in 1919 escalated into the first general strike in the United States.  Around 100,000 workers, a third of Seattle’s population, walked off the job, shutting down the city. Today’s Guest: Originally from Los Ange...Show More
Episode 21: The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

34:18 | Mar 22nd, 2016

In 1909 Seattle hosted its first world’s fair, a raucous and wild event that resembled a turn of the century Burning Man and left us with the University of Washington campus.  The expo was hailed for its efforts to highlight our city to the world, bu...Show More
Episode 20: Hiram Gill

31:26 | Mar 15th, 2016

Hiram Gill was a notoriously corrupt politician who served as mayor of Seattle.  His time in office was a disaster and his legacy is one of the strangest of any mayor before or since. Today’s Guest: Clayton Weller has been performing, producing, and ...Show More
Episode 19: George Vancouver

34:09 | Mar 8th, 2016

George Vancouver was a British captain who “discovered” Puget Sound and proceeded to name everything in sight after himself and his colleagues. Today’s Guest: Joshua Chambers is a Standup comedian, half of the critically acclaimed comedy duo “The Bal...Show More
Episode 18: The Everett Massacre

33:14 | Mar 1st, 2016

The Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the Wobblies were a powerful union who fought for worker’s rights.  An armed conflict between the union and authorities in 1916 was the bloodiest labor conflict in Northwest history. Today’s Guest: ...Show More
Episode 17: Gay and Lesbian History

36:14 | Feb 23rd, 2016

Today’s episode is a brief overview of gay and lesbian history in Seattle from 1893 to the present. Today’s Guest: Stephani Thompson has been performing improv comedy for over 10 years in Seattle at Unexpected Productions and Jet City Improv respecti...Show More
Episode 16: George Bartell

43:56 | Feb 16th, 2016

Trusted around here since 1890.  George Bartell began training as a pharmacist at age 14.  He sought adventure first on the American frontier, then in the Klondike gold rush, before building a drug store empire that thrives to this day. Today’s Guest...Show More
Episode 15: Frances Farmer

40:44 | Feb 9th, 2016

Frances Farmer was bright and talented, but somewhat troubled young actress who had the misfortune of entering the mental health care system of the 1940s and 50s. Today’s Guest: Elena Martinez is a sketch artist in Seattle, currently writing and perf...Show More
Episode 14: The Seattle Metropolitans

39:11 | Feb 2nd, 2016

Seattle got its first hockey team in 1916.  The following year the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup. Today’s Guest: Nathan Cox is a local improviser, actor and teacher. You can see him often at Jet C...Show More
Episode 13: D.B. Cooper

36:08 | Jan 26th, 2016

In 1971 D.B. Cooper hijacked an airplane, collected a $200,000 ransom then disappeared without a trace.  It is to date the only unsolved skyjacking in American history. Today’s Guest: Kesan is a comedian and producer from Milwaukee, WI. For over 13 y...Show More
Episode 12: Ivar Haglund

37:40 | Jan 19th, 2016

Restauranteur.  Folk singer.  Entertainer.  King of the publicity stunt.  Ivar Haglund led a colorful life and is often cited as the person who most exemplifies Seattle. Today’s Guest: Graham Downing was born and raised in Seattle, WA. He’s an ensemb...Show More
Episode 11: Shanghaied

44:42 | Jan 12th, 2016

Forcing sailors to work on ships against their will was big money in the old Northwest, and no one took advantage of men better than Maxwell Levy, king of the Port Townsend crimpers. Today’s Guest: Molly Arkin is a Seattle based actor and improviser....Show More
Episode 10: Linda Hazzard

46:31 | Jan 5th, 2016

Seattle’s first female serial killer, Linda Hazzard was a quack doctor who starved her patients to death and helped herself to their valuables.    Today’s Guest: Phill Arensberg is an improvisor, actor and writer. He’s an ensemble member with Jet Cit...Show More
Episode 9: The Holy Rollers Sex Cult

46:34 | Dec 29th, 2015

Franz Edmund Creffield was a charismatic madman who charmed a group of Oregonians into his cult at the turn of the century.   Today’s Guest: Mandy Price is an actor and teaching artist with Jet City Improv. She likes milk chocolate Flipz, the movie C...Show More
Episode 8: John Considine

37:02 | Dec 22nd, 2015

John Considine was king of the box houses and one of the most powerful men on Skid Row.  He was able to shoot down the chief of police in broad daylight and walk away a free man.   Today’s Guest: John Boyle is a local Seattle comedy writer and improv...Show More
Episode 7: John Nordstrom

36:43 | Dec 15th, 2015

John Nordstrom was a young Swedish immigrant with five dollars in his pocket.  He went on an adventure looking for Klondike gold and became one of the most successful businessmen in Seattle history. Today’s Guest: Douglas Willott is a Seattle based p...Show More
Episode 6: Goodspaceguy

35:41 | Dec 8th, 2015

Goodspaceguy (born Michael Nelson) has run for office in Washington State 16 times.  Who is this strange candidate and what does he stand for?   Today’s Guest: Mike Murphy has been improvising since 1998 and is a current ensemble member at Jet City I...Show More
Episode 5: Roy Olmstead

42:41 | Dec 1st, 2015

Roy Olmstead was a police lieutenant turned bootlegger.  He detested violence yet was able to run one of the most successful bootlegging operations in all of American prohibition. Today’s Guest: Alex Grindeland has been a comedian, improviser, actor,...Show More
Episode 4: Shelly’s Leg

33:38 | Nov 24th, 2015

On July 14, Bastille Day, 1970, a wet wad of confetti was shot out of a cannon and struck Shelly Bauman directly in the torso. She lost her leg, but gained ownership of a Gay Disco club. Today’s Guest: Kate Jaeger is very active in the Seattle theatr...Show More
Episode 3: Frederick Trump

36:14 | Nov 17th, 2015

Donald Trump’s grandfather was a German immigrant who moved to Seattle in 1891.  The seed money for his family’s later real estate ventures came largely from his ownership of several houses of prostitution right here in the Northwest.   Today’s Guest...Show More
Episode 2: The Pig War

51:52 | Nov 10th, 2015

The United States and Great Britain almost went to war in 1859 after a small skirmish between civilians on a remote piece of disputed territory in the San Juan Islands.  When all was said and done, the only victim of the lengthy standoff was a pig. ...Show More
Episode 1: The Great Fire

38:15 | Nov 3rd, 2015

On June 6, 1889 a fire broke out in a cabinet maker’s shop downtown.  The fire spread quickly and by the following morning the entire business district had burned to the ground. Today’s Guest: Ian Schempp is a local improviser, teacher, and director...Show More