Seattle Now & Then: The Big Stump

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Variously named the Giant Cedar Stump, the Big Arlington Stump, or just The Stump, this Snohomish Country roadside attraction was killed by a fire in 1893, reduced to stump size and tunneled in 1916, given a concrete base in 1922, and moved alongside the new Highway 99 in 1939, where it is shown here in 1940, long before its last move in 1971. (Courtesy Old Seattle Paperworks)
THEN: Variously named the Giant Cedar Stump, the Big Arlington Stump, or just The Stump, this Snohomish Country roadside attraction was killed by a fire in 1893, reduced to stump size and tunneled in 1916, given a concrete base in 1922, and moved alongside the new Highway 99 in 1939, where it is shown here in 1940, long before its last move in 1971. (Courtesy Old Seattle Paperworks)
NOW: Jean Sherrard’s opportune meeting with the stump late this summer was a lucky opening for one of Boyd Ellis’s early portraits of it to appear here.
NOW: Jean Sherrard’s opportune meeting with the stump late this summer was a lucky opening for one of Boyd Ellis’s early portraits of it to appear here.

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Surely some – maybe many – PacificNW readers will remember this magazine’s predecessor, The Seattle Sunday Times Rotogravure.  That weekend supplement covered regional stories that were illustrated – often lavishly – with sepia-toned photographs.  For instance, on June 18, 1939, the Rotogravure accompanied members of “A Seattle Camera Club … On a Picture Hunt” north on the then freshly-paved Pacific Coast Highway.  Their destination was Rosario Beach and anything picturesque along the way. This full-page feature was adorned with ten rotogravure illustrations, including one of the club members posing with their auto caravan beside this week’s subject, “the ancient, picturesque stump that has been preserved beside the highway near Arlington.”  

A page from The Seattle Times Rotogravure Magazine for June 16, 1939
A page from The Seattle Times Rotogravure Magazine for June 16, 1939.  DOUBLE CLICK TO ENLARGE

The camera club was following in the lustrous wake of Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha of Norway, who, a few days earlier, had driven through this often sideswiped artifact without hitting it. Here, approaching the estuary of the Stillaguamish River and about mid-way on their ten-week tour of America, the attentive Royal Couple surely read the interpretive text framed in a triangle above the entrance to the tunneled trunk.  It reads, “Relic of a Vanquished Forest / Western Red Cedar / (Thuja Plicata Don) /Age 1250 years / Preserved at Request of Snohomish Co. Pioneers /A.D. Arlington, Washington 1922.”  

A page from
A page borrowed from the webpage for the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum in Arlington, WA.   (Google it)

Soon after the royals and the clubbies visited the stump, Boyd Ellis, Arlington’s well-collected postcard purveyor, recorded the historical photo in 1940 and numbered it 51 at the print’s bottom-right corner.  In his decades of exploring the northwest for marketable snapshots of landmarks and other roadside attractions, Ellis snapped at least a dozen exposures of this Giant Cedar Stump.  Our featured “then” is one of at least two stump portraits he took, posing the same auto (perhaps his) and ascribing to it the same print number.  Ellis’s work is so bountiful that it has spawned experts among his many collectors.

Another early Ellis log of the Arlington Stump.
Above: Another early Ellis log of the Arlington Stump .  Below: Ellis again and a while later.

Another

Goodbye to Ellis - for a while.
Goodbye to Ellis – for a while.

Jean’s  late-summer visit to the Arlington stump was not intended for a feature but for a roadside pause at Interstate-5’s Smokey Point Rest Area.  The highway department has the stump at “milepost 207 about eight miles north of Marysville.”  More to the point of the Big Cedar Stump’s heritage, the thousand-plus-years-old artifact has been associated with Arlington since the late 19th century when that town was abuzz with mills.  The Big Arlington Stump is about three and one-half miles from Arlington as the crow flies, and there are ordinarily plenty of crows hanging around highway rest areas.  Jean, of course, knew about the stump from Ellis’s photographs, which date from before the highway department moved the stump to this, its last home in 1971.  I will brag some by noting that I first stumbled upon the stump, and without injury, in the late 1960s when it was still beside the highway, about one mile north of the Smokey Point Rest Area where Jean found it.  I was headed for Vancouver and pulled over.

A view from spaceof the Smokey Point rest area along I-5 used courtesy of Google Earth.
A view from space of the Smokey Point rest area along I-5 used courtesy of Google Earth.

Not Boyd Ellis - but perhaps the oldest of the surviving portraits of the family car in the embrace of the Arlington Stump.
Not Boyd Ellis – but earlier and perhaps the oldest of the surviving portraits of a family car in the embrace of the Arlington Stump.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, guys?  Yes Jean with examples of suburban life, mostly.   We chose these, again, from past features that we have scanned.  Most of them are from after 2008 when we started blogging and scanning.  Since the Sunday Now and Then column began in the winter of 1982 there are many features relevant for whatever generalizations might be made for any given Sunday, we have, however not found the time to scan them all.   As for stumps and, for that matter, logs too, we have gathered a few, which we hope to include here with an addendum along the way (aka down the line.)

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THEN: Snoqualmie Falls appears in full force, probably during a spring runoff.

THEN: With his or her back to the east shore of Lake Sammamish an unidentified photographer recorded this Monohon scene in about 1909, the date suggested by the Eastside Heritage Center, by whose courtesy we use this historical record.

THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.

THEN: Looking east from the roof of the still standing testing lab, the Lock’s Administration Building (from which this photograph was borrowed) appears on the left, and the district engineer’s home, the Cavanaugh House (still standing) on the center horizon. (Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers at Chittenden Locks)

THEN:

THEN: Far-left, Playland’s Acroplane, a carni’ flight-simulator, stands admired by future pilots in 1932. Behind them sprawls the amusement park’s fated Fun House. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: Julia and Richard Ballinger owned a “gas-powered” rowboat to reach their summer home on their namesake Lake Ballinger. This 1911 view looks east from near the tracks of the Seattle-Everett Interurban. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: An Emergency Relief Administration wood pile took temporary quarters on the southeast corner of S. Alaska Street and 32nd Ave. S. in 1934. (Courtesy, Northwest Collection, University of Washington Libraries.)

THEN: A circa 1908 look northeast through the terminus of the Loyal Electric Street Railway line at the corner of now Northwest 85th Street, 32nd Ave. Northwest, and Loyal Way Northwest. (Courtesy, the Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Totem Place, at 1750 Palm Ave. S.W., was home for Joseph Standley proprietor of Ye Old Curiosity Shop on Colman Dock. His death notice in The Seattle Times for Oct. 25, 1940 described the 86-year-old “Daddy” Standley as “almost as much a part of Seattle’s waterfront as the waves that dash again the seaweall.”

THEN: Looking southeast from above Alki Avenue, the Schmitz Park horizon is serrated by the oldest trees in the city. The five duplexes clustered on the right were built 1919-1921 by Ernest and Alberta Conklin. Ernest died in 1924, but Alberta continued to live there until well past 1932, the year this photograph was recorded. (Seattle Municipal Archives.)

THEN: Darius Kinsey’s ca. 1914 panorama of the King County town of Cedar Falls (aka Moncton) set beside the unstable shore of Rattlesnake Lake. (Courtesy, Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society)

THEN: This look west from the West Woodland neighborhood toward Ballard comes by way of the Museum of History and Industry, with some help from both Ron Edge and West Woodland historian Susan Pierce.

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Above: Joined kaleidoscopes from my Wallingford Walks of 2006-10. Below: a Wallingfordian fall setting.
Above: Joined kaleidoscopes from my Wallingford Walks of 2006-10. Below: a Wallingfordian fall setting.

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