Ballard & Its Locks from the GNRR Bridge – An "Edge Extra"


(click to Enlarge)

This “Edge Extra” was supplied – again – by Ron Edge. It is surely one of the earliest views of the completed Chittenden Locks. The grounds are still being prepared for the lavish garden that would follow. It was taken from the then new Great Northern Railway’s bascule bridge. Beyond the locks the Ballard waterfront clutters the north shore of Salmon Bay, with the “Ballard skyscrapers” at the Seattle Cedar Mill top-center. The long north-south line of the Ballard Bridge on 15th Ave. N.W. extends to the right of Seattle Cedar’s stacks. The bridge was completed in time for the formal opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal on July 4, 1917, so it is here still a work-in-progress.

Near the center of this “real photo postcard” are all the buildings noted or “implied” in the historical scene included directy below this one, which is dated “1916.” That view looks in the opposite direction as this and includes a glimpse of the GN Bridge from which this scene was recorded. Fresh water is falling from the spillway far right, consequently this view was photographed sometime after July 25th 1916. The gates were closed to the locks on July 12 and it took thirteen days for the water level of Salmon Bay behind them to reach that of Lake Union. It required another three months to lower Lake Washington about 9 feet to the level of Lake Union. The big lake was slowly released through a temporary lock at the east end of the Montlake Cut.

This view to the east was photographed earlier than the one directly below, the one that looks to the west. Here the little grove of evergreens planted on the grounds mid-way between the Lock’s principal structures and the chief engineer’s home is not yet in place. A different grove, one of pioneer farmer Ole Shillestad’s apple trees, can be seen far right on the south shore. It is directly below the largest of the structures on that shore. The trunks of some of these trees are submerged in the rising waters, and you can see their shadows on the water. The last apple crop – the one of 1916 – was picked from a rowboat.

(Someday, perhaps, Jean, who has no fear of heights, will venture out on to the Great Northern bascule bridge to repeat the historic postcard scene above.  It will be tricky.  Ordinarily the bridge is up to allow ships first right-of-way.  The bridge is closed for trains only when needed.   Consequently, with the bridge down, Jean will need to watch for trains.  He may feel differently about those, I mean differently than his attitude to heights.)

One thought on “Ballard & Its Locks from the GNRR Bridge – An "Edge Extra"”

  1. In the above article, it states that “This view to the east was photographed earlier than the one directly below, the one that looks to the west.” Is the photo “below” missing. I am interested in early photos of the Magnolia side of the locks while under construction or shortly after.

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