Category Archives: SEATTLE SNOWS

BIG SNOWS – of 1916 & 1968 – A Blogaddendum

Here – at last – we can compare two “big snows” on the Queen Anne Counterbalance, that unique stretch of hill climb that reaches from Lower Queen Anne to Upper.   For a few decades these blocks were fitted with an underground trolley counterbalance.  It featured a tunnel running beneath and in line with Queen Anne Avenue – but only  here where it climbs the hill.   Running on tracks within the tunnels was a peculiar “box car” made of concrete, which when hooked by cable to the bottom of the trolley helped pull it to the top of the hill – while the box car descended in the tunnel – and also helped brake it by climbing the hill when the trolley came back down it.   And none were left on top.   This unique device would not have been bothered by snow, unless it was a really big snow.  The 1916 Snow was such a pile that even the counterbalance  cars here on Queen Anne Hill were stopped – like the one we see stalled in the middle of the Avenue between Mercer Street (behind the photographer) and Roy Street, behind the car.  Perhaps the motorcar is also stuck – but not the horses.

Jean is away to Chicago this weekend to see his son perform in a play.  When he returns he will link this little blogaddendum directly to the blog’s history of Seattle snows. [Jean's note: it can be done, Paul; yea, even from the city of big shoulders - or thereabouts]

The Queen Anne Avenue Counterbalance seen from Queen Anne Avenue, twixt Mercer and Roy streets, during the stall of the "Big Snow of 1916."
The Queen Anne Avenue Counterbalance seen from Queen Anne Avenue, twixt Mercer and Roy streets, during the stall of the "Big Snow of 1916."
The snow of 1968-69 while not so deep as that of 1916 we still one of the most impressive of our "modern snows."  I might have put this up in January 2009 when I worked on our Pictorial History of Seattle Snows, except that I had to wait patiently for this slide to rise again to the surface of the light table, which is did earlier today.  Queen Anne resident Lawton Gowey took this photo on the last day of 1968.
The snow of 1968-69 while not so deep as that of 1916 was still one of the most impressive of our "modern snows." This view looks north from the southeast corner of Queen Anne Avenue and Roy Street. The Counterbalance Hill has been barricaded to traffic. I wanted to put this up in January 2009 when I worked on this blog's Pictorial History of Seattle Snows, but I had to wait patiently for this slide to rise again to the surface of the light table, which is did earlier today. Queen Anne resident Lawton Gowey took this photo on the last day of 1968. The Bayview Retirement Community on the hill was then but one decade old.

WE INTERRUPT WITH THIS  BLOGADDENDUM

A good look up the Queen Anne Counterbalance, sans snow.
A good look up the Queen Anne Counterbalance, sans snow.
The tunnel and tracks of the Queen Anne Counterbalance.
The tunnel and tracks of the Queen Anne Counterbalance.

Blogaddendum – Snow of Feb.1, 1937

Feb. 1, 1937 clipping from unidentified Seattle paper - Times, P-I, or Star.
Feb. 1, 1937 clipping from unidentified Seattle paper – Times, P-I, or Star.
Flip side of the same clipping - 2/1/37
Flip side of the same clipping – 2/1/37

This found fragment may be a reminder that February has typically been our cruelest month, and it is yet a week away, and looked to now from the warm days that have some camellias opening their red blooms early.   A reading of the preserved part of the story above reveals that Olympia had 19 inches, Lake Union had a sheet of ice on it although nothing one could walk upon, Portland was stuck in every way, the farmers in the vicinity of Spokane continued to be isolated from supplies and markets, that Seattle’s birds needed some food thrown their way in such a way that it is not buried by the snow, and that – showing at the bottom of the left column – something has happened to 53-year-old W.M. Littleton.  But what?  Perhaps some reader will get to the U.W. Library or the Seattle Public Library and search through microfilm for  the Feb. 1 1937 issues for The Seattle Star, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times and share with us Littleton’s predicament or fate.  It might be wise to start with The Seattle Times, then still an afternoon paper.

(We will insert this into our History of Seattle Snows,  Part 6.)

A Wallingford Camellia from Jan. 20 last.
A Wallingford Camellia from Jan. 20.

Another rare treat from 1916

Here’s a contribution from reader Nancy Johnson: a gorgeous photo of the 1916 Big Skate at Greenlake.

Nancy writes:

This [photo] was taken  on Jan 16th 1916 at Greenlake by my great grandfather Theodore Ramm; they lived on Greenwood Ave near 60th.  I think it was taken near the area that is now the rowing center.

Fascinating shot, filled with action and relationships. Note the threesome at lower left, also, the exuberant skaters lower center and right, narrowly avoiding the parents and child on a sled. A small mystery…just what elevated structure was the photo taken from? Nancy’s guess: a lifeguard tower. The elongated shadows suggest the photo was snapped late in the afternoon. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing this marvel with us!

(please click on photo to enlarge)

greenlake-1916-by-theo-ramm
Photo by Theodore Ramm, Green Lake 1916

A HISTORY OF SEATTLE SNOWS EXPOSED

[This updated and expanded history was written by Paul Dorpat & edited by Sally Anderson]

Can We Really Believe What We Read About Snowfall?

1880 Big Snow, looking east on Cherry Street from Front Street (First Ave.
1880 Big Snow, looking east on Cherry Street from Front Street (First Ave.)

Some of us do not trust snow reporting.  Many of us do not trust snow.  When even a merciful snow is dropped upon us, persons and performances we looked forward to meeting or attending are missed.  But a snowfall that stays put brings opportunities.  For instance, while missing events, especially those we were not particularly keen for or even dreaded, we can clean our room or attend to other neglected projects, like relationships at home. Most often we feel fortunate to live beside our comfortable Puget Sound.  But the unexpected — a brimming snow like this Big Snow of 2008 — may enliven us.

Here at DorpatSherrardLomont we are are pepped up to write a history of all our big snows.  Frankly, there have not been that many.  So we will also add some other oddities that have appeared out of the sky or merely rolled in and then out again since that “night of shock” when Seattle founder Arthur Denny discovered that the barrel of pork he purchased and stored high on the waterfront disappeared into the freezing dark of the settlers’ first really “big weather” – the winter of 1852-53….

(For more of this fascinating story, click here)