It was Ron Edge, a friend and collector and guide for our sometimes feature here of “Edge Clippings,” who gently pulled this week’s subject from a short stack of historical prints and asked, “Do you know where this is?” I did and my heart leaped because of it. The sheds were easily referenced to two other surviving glimpses into parts of the Belltown Ravine. (See below for one of them.) Ron’s third view is the most recent and the most direct.
The ravine was unique for there were only two breaks in the embankment or bluff that once rose abruptly from the beach to varying heights for the mile between Columbia and Broad Streets. A small ravine near Seneca Street was used for a tribal graveyard. This much larger ravine between Bell and Blanchard Streets cut nearly three blocks into the northwest slope of Denny Hill before reaching grade near Bell, between First and Second Avenues.
The sheds, some of them built for squatting, were removed when the Great Northern cut into the bank to dig its tunnel beneath the business district. The ravine was filled by fits between the 1880s and 1920s and then forgotten. I found its topography on a map when asked to figure out the source of human bones that were found in what I soon determined to be landfill brought from another place. Since the lost ravine had no name, I took the “explorer’s right” and named it the “Belltown Ravine” for the neighborhood it penetrates.
It was another old friend, the yachtsman, wit and author Scott Rohrer who’s heart also leapt when first shown this photograph. But Scott’s stir was more for the 32’ sloop Evelyn May here held steady in her cradle at the mouth to the ravine. Scott identifies Seattle Yacht Club Commodore C.D. Stimson as the one who ordered the Evelyn May and naval architect Leigh Coolidge as the sloop’s designer. In an essay he wrote on this subject for the Binnacle, fittingly the Yacht club’s periodical, Scott notes, “We have no record of her builder who may have made his home in this little pocket and worked for a larger yard.” And the maritime historian adds, “She won a number of races, some in heavy weather.”