Special Reports

Dirty Dan Harris

Daniel Jefferson Harris, one of the early white settlers of what would become Whatcom County, left a legacy by platting Fairhaven in 1883.

From the time he first rowed into Bellingham Bay in 1853, Harris made a name for himself by his slovenly appearance and hygiene. That name was "Dirty Dan" or "Dirty Shirt Dan."

He was also known for his good nature telling jokes and telling stories, both real and fanciful.

Harris lived alone most of his time in the county in a cabin at the mouth of Padden Creek. He later earned a sizable fortune selling lots in Fairhaven, and spent much of it building a classy hotel.

After getting married, he sold most of his property here and bought a palatial home in Los Angeles. He died there in 1890 practically penniless, the victim of a couple who befriended him and squandered his money