Seattle Urban Myths: The Dead Horse Of Ballard


Once upon a time, Ballard wasn't just another neighborhood in Seattle. It was actually it's own city separate from Seattle. It was the pushback against annexation that lies at the heard of this popular myth.

Before Ballard was incorporated into Seattle in 1890, the city's population was exploding. As a result, the water supply couldn't keep up with the influx of new residents. Annexation was proposed since Seattle had plenty of water, but many Ballardites were against this idea and remained fiercely independent.

Then the rumor started: if someone contaminated Ballard's water supply with a dead horse, maybe some Ballard residents would think twice against rejecting annexation. Local news reporters covered the wild story, but city records from the time revealed no mention of the animal, according to KUOW.

In fact, there may not have been a reservoir. Historical records said there were plans for one, but it was never built. So if there's no reservoir, chances are there wasn't a dead horse.

"So who perpetuated the dead horse story?" Jeannie Yandel wrote. "Well, several people mentioned the same name off the record, but we won’t say it here. We wouldn’t want to start any rumors."

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