Made in WA

Washington's Travel Innovations

Rides, in many forms.

Edited by Benjamin Cassidy By Benjamin Cassidy and Allison Williams August 23, 2022 Published in the Fall 2022 issue of Seattle Met

Four Boeing 747s in production at a plant in Everett, Washington

About 50,000 Boeing employees in four different plants worked on the 747 in the late 1960s, including here in Everett.

Commercial Air Travel

The jet age itself can be considered a product of Boeing—first when the company released the remarkable 707 in 1957, then with the launch of the larger, longer-range 747 in 1968. The quieter and less turbulent vehicles provided enough efficiency to make commercial air travel feasible, according to Boeing archivist Michael Lombardi. “Their airplane made it possible for everyone on planet Earth to get on a jet and fly anywhere in the world.”

The company Bill Boeing launched in 1916 would perform North America’s first international airmail service in 1919, then snag a San Francisco-to-Chicago government airmail route in 1927. It assigned the first female flight attendants, all registered nurses, to the trips. Later the airline was spun off as United Air Lines.

Boeing’s turbine work led to what the company calls the world’s first wind farm in Goldendale, Washington, though the claim is disputed. By the time the first primarily composite jet, the 787, was developed, Boeing had shifted far beyond its Seattle roots. —Allison Williams

Automatic Car Wash

The first totally hands-off car cleaning biz opened in SoDo in 1951. Eldon and Virginia Anderson’s Five Minute Car Wash deployed a new pulley system, sprinklers, nozzles, and dryers to rinse and scrub hoods.


When the Slo-Mo-Shun IV roared down Lake Washington at 160 miles per hour in 1950, it solidified a new standard in racing boat design: a propeller only partially underwater and a three-point shape perfected by Boeing engineer Ted Jones.

The Slo-Mo-Shun IV hydroplane lifted by a crane from Lake Washington at a Gold Cup in the early 1950s.

Aluminum Frame Bicycle

Gary Klein wasn’t the first person to construct bikes from aluminum instead of steel. But in his Chehalis shop during the early ’80s, the MIT grad’s technique reduced their weight by around 20 percent. His welding introduced customization and shape variation in the two-wheeled world.

Salmon Cannon

Fish can soar over dams thanks to a contraption created by Seattle’s Whooshh Innovations in 2014. A video of the pneumatic tube sucking up salmon from one body of water and depositing them in another captivated the internet a handful of years later.

Hoverboard and Solowheel

Shane Chen’s been busy.

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