Its opium was once more popular than its salmon.Fairhaven’s Chinese ghetto was once one of its main attractions in the early 20th century and the source of opium dens and rampant prostitution. Sam Low’s Opium Den was a popular local spot and open to the public in Fairhaven’s “Chinatown.” As its salmon canning market grew, so did Fairhaven’s Chinese population in 1910, totaling 15% of the overall population at one point.
Many Spanish soldiers lost their lives (and possibly their gold) here.Legend refers to it as the “Spanish Massacre” when a three-day battle in the 1600s erupted between Spanish soldiers setting up a winter fort and a tribe of local Indians. Supposedly the battle ended with most of the Spanish soldiers’ lives lost. The fort perimeter mound was still visible into the late 1800s; however, the mound was destroyed during the building of a lumber mill. Several artifacts were uncovered from the site, including copper trading plates, a blunderbuss, and skeletons. Legend further incites the quest for long-lost Spanish gold in the area and local believers may occasionally be seen on the hunt with shovels or metal detectors near Padden Lagoon.
The dead were often identified through public exhibit. Aptly referred to as Dead Man’s Corner, the local livery barn in Fairhaven was once utilized by the town coroner for exhibiting the dead as a means to identify them before burial. It was a morbid gamble, but one that was deemed necessary in a town with more John Does than any town in the West according to the town marshall.