2008-07-13 Snoqualmie Falls

Whidbey Island resident Teresa Pate sent this abundant view of Snoqualmie Falls to Jean Sherrard in response to Jean’s handling of other photos of this 270-foot cataract that appear in Sherrard’s and my book, “Washington Then and Now.” Pate explains, “The picture has probably been in the family 75 to 100 years.” Embossed directly on the photograph is the name “Evans,” perhaps the studio signature of David and Francis Evans who, in the early 20th century, ran Evans Photo and Art Shop in downtown Seattle.

Of the falls’ many thousand recordings this view is wonderfully appealing for putting the cascade “in full force” behind the delicate profiles of a fallen forest snag and two men, we imagine, in the grip of the sublime. To repeat this mildly telescopic effect, Jean used his 80mm lens for the “now.”

Above the roar of the falls Jean got the attention of his subjects by waving his arms. (His subjects, by the way, are also his students at Bellevue’s Hillside Student Community, a private school founded by Sherrard’s parents in 1969.

Readers will note that on the right of both views the same rock shows in the pool below the falls. Sherrard explains: “After triangulating the iron-shaped boulder evident in both photos, I surmised that the original photographer was standing well out into the river, probably on a log, as there’s no structure today that would bring me near that perspective. Usually the rocks below the falls are slick from the misting water, but on this day the wind blew up the canyon toward the falls, leaving the approach safe and dry.”

THEN: Snoqualmie Falls appears in full force, probably during a spring runoff.
THEN: Snoqualmie Falls appears in full force, probably during a spring runoff.
NOW: From the north side of the river it takes about 15 minutes to reach the pool below the falls. With this year's late runoff, Snoqualmie Falls was still in full force in early June.
NOW: From the north side of the river it takes about 15 minutes to reach the pool below the falls. With this year's late runoff, Snoqualmie Falls was still in full force in early June.

Several more remarkable older photos from the archive:

An early view of the falls with "Seattle Rock" at the top between the falls and the fallen tree caught behind the rock.  The rock was blasted away in order to create the pool behind the falls for development of the power plant above and beneath it.   Photo by Davidson from the 1890s.
An early view of the falls with "Seattle Rock" at the top between the falls and the fallen tree caught behind the rock. The rock was blasted away in order to create the pool behind the falls for development of the power plant above and beneath it. Photo by Davidson from the 1890s.
An example of the signature side of F. La Roche's typical commercial print has him promoting his studio as "Rainier Photographic and Art Studios."
An example of the signature side of F. La Roche's typical commercial print has him promoting his studio as "Rainier Photographic and Art Studios."
On the flip side is what was then considered the other principal natural wonder of Puget Sound: Snoqualmie Falls.  One of Seattle's more active photographers in the late 1880s and early 1890s, LaRoche records the Falls with Seattle Rock still in place.  Photo dates from ca. 1889.
On the flip side is what was then considered the other principal natural wonder of Puget Sound: Snoqualmie Falls. One of Seattle's more active photographers in the late 1880s and early 1890s, LaRoche records the Falls with Seattle Rock still in place. Photo dates from ca. 1889.
Hand-colored print of Snoqualmie Falls by Price.
Hand-colored print of Snoqualmie Falls by Price.

And a few more NOW pix to illustrate our trip down to the river:

Students peer down from the platform at the raging falls
Students peer down from the platform at the raging falls
The view from the platform
The view from the platform
After taking the photo, a bit of a clamber up from the beach
After taking the photo, a bit of a clamber up from the beach
Great bunch of kids at the river end of the trail
At the river end of the trail. What a great bunch of kids!

One thought on “2008-07-13 Snoqualmie Falls”

  1. wow this has changed so much since those pix were posted…and will be changing so much again 2012 onward!
    no longer a viewing ‘platform’ and no longer able to walk down to the bottom, let alone climb onto the rocks, tho i do remember doing this with my kids not so long ago!
    it will be interesting to see what the new trail system/park brings! cant wait

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