When driving through Bellingham and entering the Cornwall Park neighborhood, the neat grids of Sunnyland, Columbia and the Lettered Streets are interrupted by a wavy array of roads and the long, skinny Broadway Park sandwiched between historic homes.
The sunken park and the roads follow the path of a now-hidden creek, which let out to the I & J Waterway of Bellingham Bay.
In the early 1900s, Everett Lyle from the Bellingham Bay Improvement Company (who donated the land to the city) designed the park around the creek’s wetland which included a lagoon at the western end of the park, Whatcom Museum historian Jeff Jewell said. In 1946, the lagoon was filled in.
“For years, I had old-timers coming and they’d say, ‘Oh, I don’t understand why they got rid of that lagoon. We used to get tadpoles there and skate on it in the winter,’” Jewell said about older locals who recalled childhood memories. “When you read contemporary accounts in the ’30s and ’40s of the lagoon, it was described as a trash hole because garbage would roll in.”
While the lagoon and its tadpoles are no more, the creek still runs through pipes beneath the ground, Jewell said. On rainy days, the stretch of grass still becomes boggy, leading to muddy shoes and paws.
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