The team that would become the Huskies played its first game at Washington Field nearly a century ago.

Share story

NINETY-SEVEN YEARS have passed between these games? The game played “Then” was the first at Washington Field, the brand-new stadium at the end of the 1920 season, when the Dartmouth College Indians from Hanover, N.H., beat the University of Washington Sun Dodgers, 28-7 (they wouldn’t become the Huskies for another couple of years).

Besides a few points, the most important thing missing in 1920 was a bridge, a way for fans to get to the new stadium from the more-populated south side of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. For the Dartmouth game, UW graduate manager Dar Meisnest improvised a row of barges that fans could use to cross that would only temporarily block shipping.

Meisnest was a leading promoter for the Gothic Montlake Bridge, opened in 1925. It is the last of the bascules to span the canal.

Now Husky Stadium, the field also has hosted a few performances without footballs. In 1923, hundreds of local pastor-led Christian thespians staged a passion play before 40,000 on a stage that filled the west end zone.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh buzzed the stadium in his Spirit of St. Louis, and after landing at Sand Point Naval Air Station, took the short ride to the stadium in a yacht for a “visit” with about 30,000 admirers. He was introduced by Seattle Mayor Bertha Knight Landes.

For lifting spirits on the home front, and to demonstrate how to respond in the event of an enemy attack, civilian defense workers produced a mock “Bombing of Seattle” by a squadron of P-38 fighters firing blanks on faux but flammable homes and businesses built and ignited on the playing field (not by the fighters) for the spectacle of destruction. The fake but fiery bombing on June 13, 1943, was well-attended.

The “Now” photo is from the Huskies’ late-night 33-30 victory over Utah on Nov. 18. Jake Browning broke the UW record for career touchdown passes, and Myles Gaskin set the career mark for rushing touchdowns during the game.