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Today is Syttende Mai, Norwegian Constitution Day. This is usually a big deal in Ballard, now considered a Seattle neighborhood that used to be (and still should be) its own entity. But thanks to the restrictions on free association and public gatherings, Syttende Mai is a silent affair this time around.

There’s no parade, no packed museum, none of the usual parties in the parking lots, yards, and bars around Ballard. After 130 years of proudly celebrating Norwegian heritage, this happy annual event is on hold. It was that long ago that my Norwegians came to the area. My great-grandmother, born soon after her parents arrived in this country, spoke Norwegian and I love honoring her family at Syttende Mai each year.

Per the National Nordic Museum, our local 17th of May Committee has still pulled off a virtual Syttende Mai. It starts within the hour… I hope that the museum and the committee are okay with me posting this information. I don’t see it on their websites; it came in email form. I’m assuming we still want as many people to participate as possible so am taking the chance of posting this part of the museum’s email online. If there are any objections please let me know.


From the museum:

Seattle’s 17th of May Committee has worked hard to bring several virtual ways to celebrate to our community! You can join them online for speeches, a concert, and a singalong on May 17th.
12pm—Speeches and Virtual Skål
With 17th of May Committee chair-person Anne-Lise Berger; Honorary Consul Viggo Forde; virtual grand marshal General Consul Jo Sletbak; His Majesty King Harald; Honorary Consul Viggo Ford, and more.
Link to join

1pm—Hardanger Concert
With The Norwegian American
Link to join

4pm—Syttende Mai Singalong
With Leif Erikson Lodge
Link to join 
(There is a meeting ID needed… I’m hesitant to publish this given the Zoom bombing going on. You might want to contact the lodge for log-in info.)

Share your at-home celebrations with Leif Erikson Lodge on Facebook!

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For years I have been fascinated with the story of a goldfish that survived the April 29th, 1965 Puget Sound earthquake. This was a strong quake that one of my parents remembers vividly. They were just kids when it happened, and as a kid I remember marveling over their description of the strong jolts, groceries toppling, and the pavement in the parking lot of a Pierce County grocery store rising and falling in waves.

HistoryLink’s Alan Stein wrote a piece on this nearly 20 years ago which is posted below (click to see the explanatory newspaper photo). Given the local connection to Juanita Beach, and the fact that Wednesday is the 55th anniversary of the earthquake and the goldfish’s improbable survival, I’ve wanted to make this into a local festival. I asked around. No bites. And that was before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

At minimum, I wanted to put this logo, with its upside down fish bowl, on t-shirts and bumper stickers. Kirkland needs to celebrate its history more as its high density development is swallowing up the past. We see cars with odes to Wall Drug, the world’s largest ball of string, and the Mystery Spot, so why not our Juanita Beach goldfish? Why not make this a thing? It’s especially salient with the renovations going on at the park right now. Much of the park is being completely redesigned.

If you live or work anywhere near Kirkland, raise a glass to the Pepple goldfish this Wednesday, April 29th, then turn it upside down quickly and see if you can get a seal. We really should celebrate something this memorable, this miraculous, this bizarre… especially at a time when we all need a really good party.


Goldfish survives bizarre earthquake experience on April 29, 1965.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 3/01/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3037

On April 29, 1965, a goldfish owned by Juanita resident Howard Pepple survives a strange experience. The glass bowl containing the fish flips off a 4-foot 8-inch bookcase, overturns, and lands on the floor upsidedown, forming a seal. When Mr. Pepple returns home, he finds the fish swimming complacently in its overturned domicile.

A Fish Story

Pepple, a caretaker at Juanita Beach Park, lived in an apartment above the park’s concession stand with his wife and fish. No one was home during the quake except the fish, so two hours after the temblor Mr. Pepple returned to assess any damage that may have occurred to their dwelling and possessions.

The object most out of place was the fishbowl. When the Pepples had left in the morning it had been sitting on a shelf, more than four feet above the floor. It was now lying upside down at ground level. Examining it further, Mr Pepple saw water inside. The fish swam within, oblivious to its current predicament.

Flipper

Investigators surmised that during the quake, the shelf swayed, and the bowl was knocked from its perch. It flipped end over end as it fell to the tiled floor. The soft tile, similar to lineoleum, softened the blow, and the mouth of the bowl landed perfectly flush with the floor. A seal formed which kept water (and fish) inside. Rocks which had been on the bottom of the glass domicile were on the floor, still within the fishbowl.

The local newspaper was alerted to this bizarre event and photos were taken. Pepple then inverted the bowl, returned it and its resident back to the shelf, and things returned back to normal in the Pepple household. All was well again in Juanita.


Sources: “Juanita Goldfish Swims After Quake Flips Bowl,” East Side Journal May 6, 1965, p. 1.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com except HistoryLink article, which is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution.

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This is the cottage I call the Feriton Fairy House. Where is Feriton, you may ask? It’s on Google Maps… right smack where the Google campus is in Kirkland, Washington. KirklandHistory.org has a well-researched explanation of why this area is called Feriton. Most Kirklanders are unaware of its historic name.

Located just north of the walking and biking trail through the heart of the city known as the Cross Kirkland Corridor, you can pass by and completely miss this gem built in 1945. The area is dominated by commercial and industrial sites from the CKC southward, and larger, more modern residential buildings on the other sides.

This is what you might see as you travel towards Houghton (PCC, Met Market, Northwest University) on 6th Street South.

Here is what you might glance at while traveling northward.

You might think it’s just a shack on property worth most of a million waiting to be swallowed up by another condo building. But stop for a moment. Look closer.

The closer you get, the more idyllic this setting becomes. The busy road and the bike lanes start fading away. You become aware of the tinkling water of a creek. You begin to marvel at the lush grounds and old trees.

Linger longer. Who lived here? What was its purpose? I’ve met the owner and know that he still cares for the place. There is nothing worth stealing, yet this little island of calm on the edge of downtown is priceless.

The Feriton Fairy House has seen better days. Yet it’s that worn, down home feel that lends itself to the fairy tale realm. You can weave many stories centered around this house. You can imagine a World War II veteran having lived there since he came back from France. You could conjure up a tale of three raccoons that live inside and argue over how to make the best buckwheat pancakes for their woodland neighbors. Perhaps a wise gnome in a blue cap lives there and only comes out in the moonlight.

Even when you’re walking by across the street it doesn’t seem like much.

Just cross the street, though, and you seem to be staring at a little slice of the shire. Imagine this without the fence, without the adjacent busy trail, without the sidewalk and sign. It seems like another time and place.

You’re standing in the middle of a city near the campus of a major corporation yet here is this splash of country. Follow the creek under the roadway and you’ll find a friendly willow and magnificent magnolia soaking up the hydration on the other side.

We often take one glance and keep moving. There is value in stopping, looking, breathing in, tuning the distractions out. We can fail to see great beauty when we pass by too quickly or stand too far off. It’s when we pause and explore, when we get a little closer, that we can find an oasis in the arduous busyness of life.

There’s no two-car garage here. No upper stories or pretentious balconies. The beauty here is in its simplicity. Standing on the edge of this property, while you’re drawn into the pastoral setting, you cross a threshold into a timeless state in which you realize this is what Kirkland once was.

May this cottage continue to stand as a monument to a simpler time when we wanted less and were grateful more.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Today the middle section of the last Kirkland Parkplace building had fallen in by way of behemoth hydraulics. An excavator scraped the innards onto the ground and then into giant trucks which hauled them away to lands unknown.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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There are plenty of ruined buildings in the world but no ruined stones.

Hugh MacDiarmid

Where were these photographs taken? Sarajevo? Beirut? Chernobyl? That’s what I would guess if I hadn’t taken them. These were taken last Friday in Kirkland, Washington. The last of the Kirkland Parkplace buildings was coming down.

The group of brick buildings we knew as the Kirkland Parkplace shopping center have been replaced by a massive mixed residential-commercial development called Kirkland Urban. Its many stories and underground parking are more Bellevue or Seattle than Kirkland. Kirkland Urban contains a huge flagship grocery store and a much welcome pet supplies store. Many say it’s a vast improvement over the sometimes sleepy Parkplace. But its architecture falls into that Anywhere U.S.A. category, so there is nothing distinctively Northwest about it.

Here are the raw photos. The first five were taken on March 11th, 2020 when I noticed equipment near the building off 6th Street south of Central Way. The others were taken at two different times about four hours apart on Friday, March 20th. They speak for themselves, and I’ve left one of the quirkier photos in because of the interplay of a bright setting sun. I doubt there will be anything left standing if I drive by tomorrow.

The power of the hydraulic demolition equipment is startling. Those jaws rip chunks of concrete and rebar off of structures like a T-Rex shredding an afternoon snack. I was told that once this building was properly skeletonized, it would have to be pulled forward so the new building behind it wouldn’t be harmed. This demolition signals the end of Kirkland Parkplace; all evidence of the old movie theater, bookstore, bakery, seafood store, fountain, and other fixtures is now gone.


For those who can stand it, Rhine Demolition, the company handling the project above, was also tasked with dismantling the Kalakala. Video here.

You can find what remains of the Kalakala, which was built in Kirkland, here and here.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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As I said in yesterday’s post, being bored is impossible when you enjoy history and genealogy! You always have places to go, photos to take, research to complete, and stacks of paperwork to sort through. So hearing people say they’re bored during this time of social distancing sounds rather alien; some of us are finding more to do than ever.

After finally catching up on email in the wee hours of the morning, I realized just how many online learning opportunities there are right now. In particular, many museums and historical collections are putting the word out about the resources they have online. Here are just some of the many free gateways to personal enrichment available.

The Smithsonian Institution, Ten Museums You Can Virtually Visit. This article includes links to The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, The Anne Frank House, The Vatican Museums, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The London National Gallery, NASA Research Centers, The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, San Francisco’s De Young Museum, and The Louvre.

The National Nordic Museum here in Seattle has digitized Nordic American oral histories and an online collections portal that could keep you busy for days. I still miss the old building and the old name, but their relocation and relabeling has renewed their outreach power.

Our beloved local HistoryLink is an online encyclopedia of Washington State History. They have thousands of essays, fun slide shows, a roster of Washingtonians who gave their lives in service for our country, resources for schools, and how-tos for self-guided walking tours. Their weekly newsletter is a great way to get to know the area.

HistoryLink featured Washington State University’s Early Washington Maps collection this week (go Cougs!). From that page you can find your way down other rabbit holes, such as the amazing WSU Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections page, the United States Geological Survey Topos Index, and the University of Washington Digital Collections site.

D’Adamo Personalized Nutrition mentioned that Travel + Leisure posted Stuck at Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch. This article lists links to the British Museum in London, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the MASP in São Paulo, and the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

You can get lost in the British Library Medieval Manuscripts Blog. It’s not just the language but the art that draws you in. The Digital Collections of Trinity College Library in Dublin are also a gold mine of art and literature.

Seattle’s Burke Museum is promoting Burke from Home. There are activities for kids, virtual exhibits, and extensive information about local flora and fauna. I love their pages on animals and am thrilled to see that Rod Crawford has a Spider Myths page on there. People scream when they see spiders, blame them for all manner of skin blemishes, and kill them on sight. Crawford sets the record straight and encourages us to practice respect. As I tell the big gnarly spiders hanging out in the shower sometimes, “you don’t bug me and I won’t bug you.”

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution have more than 30,000 pre-1840 American objects in their collection and many are featured online. They have an online quilt index as well. Now would also be a good time to get in touch with your local Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution chapter to ask for help connecting the dots to your suspected patriots.

Universe Today featured Five Space and Astronomy Activities to do at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak. You can choose from Re-live Apollo 13 in Real Time, Citizen Science, Astronomy Outdoors, and Read and Listen. Slooh.com, Space.com, and NASA’s interactive Solar System Exploration are also excellent places to sharpen your space skills. There are also a great many space-related videos on YouTube (due to the classes and educational shows on YouTube alone, boredom should not exist). How ’bout some honey in zero-g or the Wired interview with Chris Hadfield that discusses if space smells like burnt steak.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society is offering free webinars for another 10 days or so. Some free genealogy courses are listed at Lisa Lisson’s site as well. Washington State has the nation’s best Digital Archives at a state level. Start clicking around and enjoy!

The American Battlefield Trust offers virtual tours of Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields. Seeing King’s Mountain on that site this morning was profound. My ancestor and his four young brothers fought in the Battle of King’s Mountain. One was killed, one was “shot through” but recovered, and my forebear was nearly killed but lived to a very old age.

The Battlefield Trust employs that fascinating 360-degree interactive technology that allows you to explore every nook and cranny of a site. Much closer to home, Seattle Now & Then often does that too. The articles, archives, photography, and other bonuses from Dorpat & Co. are engrossing. From their sidebar you can enter other portals such as the Globe Radio Repertory, where you can listen to dramatized versions of classic literature. That gem is parked on the Internet Archive, which could keep you busy until our sun burns out.

Collective Evolution posted How Your Kids and You Can Learn and Explore the World for Free While Quarantined. This mentions museums, but includes virtual aquariums, opera, symphonies, and world landmarks that you can visit courtesy of the world wide web. I like how they are emphasizing music– today’s kids may think music is a snap track with a scantily clad auto-tuned 20 year-old wailing about her first world problems. There is a whole ocean of actual music out there.

There are undoubtedly many more opportunities to absorb beauty, wonder, and knowledge online. Know of a good website? Please a link in the comments section. With this bottomless pit of information at our fingertips, there’s no excuse for being bored. If we lose the power grid as well, there are these wonderful objects called books which also contain endless enlightenment. Books are easy on the eyes, don’t need batteries, and can go just about anywhere with you.

Now you can’t be bored! Sir Isaac Newton’s Self-Quarantine tells how Newton’s time alone led to some of his most world-changing discoveries. Perhaps you or your kid are the next Newton. There is much more to you than you know. What divinely deposited gifts lie within, veins of talent that have been waiting for a pause in your life to be discovered?

Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths.

Epictetus

3/23/20: The Smithsonian came out with this mega-list of extreme awesomeness, 68 Cultural, Historical and Scientific Collections You Can Explore Online: Tour world-class museums, read historic cookbooks, browse interactive maps and more.

3/24/20: Did you know this about Shakespeare? Shakespeare and the Plague


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Wow. Check out this powerful post from The Irish Aesthete, one of my all-time favorite blogs. Author Robert O’Byrne quotes an excerpt from the prayer known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, otherwise known as the Lúireach Phádraig or Faeth Fiada.

The photography and thoughts on The Irish Aesthete are impeccably researched and brilliant. O’Byrne has done his entire country a service by meticulously documenting the condition of countless historic properties, many of which lie in ruin. His zeal for heritage conservation has always inspired me. His attention to detail is phenomenal.

Because of his blog post, I looked up the full text of this prayer:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

Because I enjoy hearing hymns and prayers in my ancestors’ mother tongues, I wondered what this sounds like in Irish.

St. Patrick, by the way, was not Irish. His native language would have been Cornish, Breton, Welsh, or Cumbric as he was taken to Ireland from Brittania as a slave. He later returned to Ireland to spread Christianity. There is speculation that the patron saint of Ireland was a Welshman (Cymru am byth!). The original color associated with him is blue, but here in America, we unabashedly parade in all things green.

It seems quite unreal that the Seattle area won’t be able to gather at the usual spots for St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow as restaurants, bars, and most social gathering places are closed by order of the governor. Gatherings of more than 50 are prohibited. But by all means, celebrate wherever you find yourself. About 33 million Americans claim Irish heritage, yet we like to say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. The more the merrier.

Here’s a little something to get you started from a Celtic punk band from Sweden fronted by an Irishman (!). Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!

From the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Cabo Roig, Spain Facebook page

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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The National Archives and Records Administration building in Seattle is slated for closure, which could send countless invaluable records, including tribal records, out of state and far away.

To understand the purpose of this building and why it’s important to keep these records in our state, please see Seattle Now & Then: National Archives and Records Administration on Sand Point Way, 1960.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has an extensive page of news links and resources that include how to contact government officials. Wyman is also floating the idea of locating the NARA records next to the new Washington State Archives building in Olympia when it is built. Please feel free to contact her to express your support.

This is an important nonpartisan issue that needs the support of millions of Washingtonians. Please makes your voices heard.

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Safe indeed by land to journey,
But the way is rough and trying,
Long the road and full of turnings;
Lovely is the ship on ocean,
Beautiful to ride the billows,
Journey easy o’er the waters,
Sailing in a trusty vessel;
Should the West-wind cross our pathway,
Will the South-wind drive us northward…

The Kalevala, Rune XXXIX

If you are a regular here then you may recall last October’s post, The Second Most Photographed Object in the World. In that post I showed parts of what’s left of the ferry Kalakala, which in its heyday was the second most photographed object in the world behind the Eiffel Tower. It sat unwanted for years until it was carved up, its choice pieces now weathering on the shoulder of the Cross Kirkland Corridor and next to Salty’s at Alki Beach.

Exiting the West Seattle Bridge at Harbor Avenue, I remembered the giddiness of decades past when friends and I would cruise this strip, feeling so adult in our newly acquired vehicles. I had a sharp reality check as I passed derelict RV after derelict RV along the roadside.

Arriving at Salty’s, where scuba divers were simultaneously suiting up and stripping next to their vehicles, I realized how long it had been since I’d actually stopped here.

As on the Cross Kirkland Corridor north of 7th Avenue, you have the distinct impression that you’ve stumbled upon the remains of a first generation mother ship. This part of the Kalakala occupies the northwest corner of the Salty’s parking lot.

This part of the wheelhouse faces east towards downtown Seattle and Harbor Island. At first glance it looks like you might be able to put a quarter in it and go for a quick cruise. But it, too, is rusting away, perched on terra firma instead of plowing through the Sound.

I’m not sure what is in the foreground. If my source is correct, the owners of Salty’s had to move some of their “urban reef,” pieces of the old Spokane Street Bridge, to accommodate the Kalakala when it moved there in 2015.

Inside of the wheelhouse, you feel as if you’re gazing out of an oversized Corinthian battle helmet made for Henry J. Waternoose III (Monsters, Inc.).

The views from here are entrancing. This is certainly a spot where shadowy superheroes come to brood over the Emerald City at night, capes flapping in the brackish breeze.

The voluminous clouds on this Sunday afternoon reminded me just how small this big city is in the grand scheme of things.

And yet the city just keeps going up, up, up…

Hmm. This does look like a defeated tripod from War of the Worlds, still ready to fire upon humanity…

Das Kurbelwelle. A relative just made a beautiful table using a crankshaft as the base. This crankshaft would be more appropriate for a table for Paul Bunyan. It’s massive.

It may look like Medusa saw her own reflection and shattered, but I think this is probably more of the old bridge.

This does quite good on its own as a modern art statement.

Those clouds…

Das Ruder. This rudder steered a dead weight of about 750 tons.

This shot reminds me of a tugboat. Or like the Kalakala is looking east, telepathically reaching out to its other half that is languishing on the side of a trail 15 miles away.

Thankfully you can turn the camera so it still seems like the Space Needle dominates the Seattle skyline.

Another view from the helmet…

Oddly, I didn’t find any signs telling people what these relics are. At this point a couple was standing in here with me and I explained the Kalakala’s story. I thought the owner was going to do more with these, but five years on, here they remain.

Three cormorants, three towers… every time I see the towers on Queen Anne I’m reminded that my dad would climb them to do maintenance.

The patina in here, where it hasn’t been vandalized, is gorgeous.

Unk, standing at a porthole, wept quietly. He was weeping for love, for family, for friendship, for truth, for civilization. The things he wept for were all abstractions, since his memory could furnish few faces or artifacts with which his imagination might fashion a passion play.

Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Thank you to the Seattle history titan who reminded me of the whereabouts of the Kalakala’s other half. For a treasure trove of Kalakala facts and photos by the real experts, click here.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.

A.A. Milne

How many bridges do you see in the above photo? This is the bridge across the Sammamish Slough in Kenmore, Washington, known simply as the slough in localese.

As you drive to or from Kenmore on 68th Avenue NE, which is called Juanita Drive NE just a bit farther south, you pass over a mundane looking concrete structure at the slough. Unless you’re stuck in traffic and thinking about the Cascadia Subduction Zone, you might not give much thought to the fact that you’re on a bridge.

There are three bridges in the above photo. You can’t really tell this from above. But you can from down below.

It is not very safe to go under the north end of the bridges. But you can access their underbellies from the boat launch on the south side of the slough. At least for a few more days. The West Sammamish River Bridge Project begins next week.

The bridge that carries southbound traffic is being replaced. This will affect traffic on this route, which is commonly used by those avoiding tolls on the SR 520 bridge, for two years. It is being replaced because the structure was built in the 1930s. It’s old.

This is the southbound bridge, the one that had weight restrictions placed on it a few years ago. The northbound bridge was built in the 1970s, and it’s been deemed suitable to stay for a while.

Didn’t I say three bridges though? You’re looking at the third in this photo. As the Depression-era southbound bridge is torn out, what remains of the original 1917 bridge will be destroyed as well.

The 1930s bridge was built in the footprints of the 1917 bridge. I’ve asked around to find out if there are plans to preserve any of this for posterity and I do not believe there are. I was told that the 103 year-old pilings will probably fall apart when they’re pulled out. (Have you tried kicking one? You’ll shatter your phlanges.)

The Vintage King County Facebook page has a photo of the Kenmore bridge construction from way back. They actually have many fascinating photos of bridges. This site is so rich in local history that I need to issue a strong warning to anyone who likes to peek into the past– exercise self-control. You can become so enraptured by browsing the photos at Vintage King County that you’ll stay up all night eating Cheetos while your eyeballs bleed.

All of these photos were taken from the south side looking north. Last time I was under the north side we called the King County Sheriff because of a body sticking out from under a wadded-up tarp. I assumed the person was asleep or unconscious, but we didn’t know if they were dead or lying in wait either. There was zero movement and the upper half of their body was covered. There have been encampments and questionable activity under there for some time.

This is still embedded in the ground and probably has been for over a century. But it too will go the way of the dodo. By the way, if you really want to geek out about bridges, Bridgehunter.com is like the Spatula City of bridge websites. Here are some examples of other 1930s bridges.

This is what I tell myself in antiques stores: look up! You often find the most intriguing relics when you elevate your eyes. In this case we can see where the 1970s bridge and the 1930s bridge meet. From above, this isn’t nearly as noticeable.

Standing here felt somewhat sci fi, like a factory fight scene in Highlander, so I had to tweak it a little for effect.

Here again are the Disconnect of Diplomatic Ties to Germany era bridge, the Depression era bridge, and the Disco era bridge. The middle bridge, the one that will start to disappear just days from now, has the most character.

The vandals with their spray paint have decorated the north side many times. Funny part is, no one knows what the heck they’re trying to say.

The ’70s side is really just a big slab. It is the very definition of utilitarian. Perhaps it felt modern and exciting when it was constructed.

The anchors and cables and such on the ’30s side are intriguing. I couldn’t quite figure out why everything was placed where it was. I’m not an expert on seismic retrofits either.

I am intrigued by this coffee can on a shelf feature. If you know what it is, please leave a comment below.

Yep, I know. I can’t stop taking these past, present, future pictures. But can you name another place– anywhere– where you get to see parts of bridges from three different time periods at once?

Any civil engineers reading this? I’d love to have you break this down for me. Trusses, caps, …? I have many questions about how things are joined together at this point. The picture doesn’t quite capture my conundrum. You’d really have to be standing there looking at it. And you only have a few more days to do so.

Hmm… how this takes the weight it does is amazing.

This is exactly why I need to take the tripod along with my point & shoot. I was standing on the metal walkway over the river… not exactly a stable platform. The river has been full and muddy because of the recent deluge.

I kept returning to this spot. It was like the structural incarnation of Gary Numan’s The End of Things:

Are you the end of things come calling?
Are you the answer that I’ve wished for?

Everything’s so cold, the air is so still
And there is nothing here but me
If I belong here, and this is mercy
Then there is no place I’d rather be

Sammamish Slough ducks are the friendliest I’ve ever met. These three followed me all over as I was taking the photos. They’d get out and walk around me, probably hoping I had some people snacks. I learned too late in life that bread isn’t good for them; there are better options. I wonder how many cases of duck diabetes I caused in my childhood.

Say goodbye to the tufted totems, the mud that undoubtedly contains all manner of treasures… The only way I would have been allowed to poke around in it was to get a prohibitively expensive right-of-way permit from the city.

Bridges don’t just carry people. They carry other pieces of our infrastructure. This contributes to why modifying or replacing them is so complicated. Many agencies are involved.

Looking west. Just around the bend is Lake Washington. This is a busy place in the summer. Today it was me, a local, and the ducks.

Teds or Feed or whoever you are, no one knows what you mean or cares.

Let me take a long last look…

If you are between 9’0″ and 9’4″, it doesn’t matter. Duck.

It’s just metal. But I couldn’t help but notice its resemblance to a broken Paleo-Hebrew mem, which meant water.

How many people walk by and don’t even know what this is?

This too shall pass. A few more.

Besides the ducks, cormorants like to hang out on the slough as well. Once again, shoulda brought the tripod… I was guilty of talking while attempting a zoomed in shot as well.

Good bye, old bridges. I hope I can grab a piece of you before they haul you away for good.

He stood upon the bridge alone
and Fire and Shadow both defied;
his staff was broken on the stone,
in Khazad-dûm his wisdom died.

Tolkien

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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