Sue Karren, director of the National Archives in Seattle, shows KUOW listener Ethan Merritt historical photos of the downtown viaduct. June 13, 2019. 
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Sue Karren, director of the National Archives in Seattle, shows KUOW listener Ethan Merritt historical photos of the downtown viaduct. June 13, 2019.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

What's in that giant government warehouse near Sand Point?

It's a giant, block-long building surrounded by a chain-link fence. To the neighbors in this leafy Seattle neighborhood, the place is an enigma.

So what's inside this giant U.S. government warehouse? Is this where documents just go to die?

Listener Ethan Morris lives nearby. He says he hardly ever sees people going in or out of the building. He knows it’s some kind of government archive, but he’s not sure what that means.

“I sort of have this image of bureaucrats all over the country filing things, and when the file cabinet gets full, they say, 'Oh, we don't need that any more, send it off to the archives, and that's the end of it,'" he said.

So his question is, what’s in there? Is there anything in there that's ever looked at by anybody after it arrives?

We'll take you inside to see what's in there (and no, we didn't find the Ark of the Covenant).

Listen to the episode by clicking the play button above or on your favorite podcast app. SoundQs is a weekly podcast where our KUOW reporters tackle questions submitted by our listeners.

Correction 7/11/19 3:23 p.m. PST: A previous version of the audio mistated that the Chinese Exclusion Act files being held in the Archives are naturalization records. In fact they are immigration records.

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