Before Military Road

Today, Military Road on West Hill provides an expansive view of the Cascades and Mount Rainier and an alternative to Interstate 5. However, nearly 150 years ago when it was built, a heavily forested Military Road linked the first pioneers of Seattle with the Army forts to the south. The route ran through the Duwamish Valley and what would eventually become cities in their own right: the cities of Tukwila; SeaTac; Des Moines; Kent and Federal Way.

This week, Foster High School drama students will be performing their original play, "Before Military Road”. It's the early story of Military Road. The story starts with the wedding of Dr. Samuel Grow and Eveline Avery on Feb. 7, 1855, early Seattle pioneers. There's talk of this new road that reports indicated was laid out by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. With a new road, pioneers could transport their goods, connect the homesteads with each other and provide quick military protection for settlers from Indian tribes. The homesteaders celebrate the Fourth of July; but the harvest in the fall of 1855 is interrupted by hostilities between settlers and the Native Americans. The homesteaders flee to Seattle, not returning until Thanksgiving 1856, the play's final scene.

The play is 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, May 22 and 23, at the Foster High School Performing Arts Center, 4242 S. 144th St. Tickets are $5 for adults and students without ASB cards, $4 for Students with ASB Card.

Foster's drama students did the original research on Military Road for the play and worked with the Tukwila Historical Society on authenticity. "They came up with the basic plot structure and initial dialogue," said Cynthia Chesak, Foster's drama teacher. They then worked with playwright Rachel Atkins to refine the story. Atkins added characters, based on feedback from the historical society, and worked on the dialogue to make it more historically accurate.

Twenty students act in the play and there are two adult cameos. On Thursday evening, Andy Giron, a social studies teacher, plays territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens. On Friday Pat Brodin, past president of the Tukwila Historical Society and the City of Tukwila's operations manager, will play Stevens. Matt Leonard, Foster's football coach and junior varsity baseball coach, will play the justice of the peace both nights.

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