Seattle Now & Then: The Yakima Canyon

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Hugh Paradise neither named nor dated his photograph looking down from a basalt cliff onto the Yakima River. (Courtesy, Byron Coney)
THEN: Hugh Paradise neither named nor dated his photograph looking down from a basalt cliff onto the Yakima River. (Courtesy, Byron Coney)
NOW: With some exploring, Jean Sherrard discovered that Paradise’s prospect was only a few feet off the Yakima Canyon Road, a State Scenic Highway.
NOW: With some exploring, Jean Sherrard discovered that Paradise’s prospect was only a few feet off the Yakima Canyon Road, a State Scenic Highway.
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The panoramic view from the same spot

I imagine that among PacificNW readers many have explored this magazine’s namesake surrounds via its many adventurous roads and highways.  And I’m confident that among these explorers, several will have driven to within a few feet of this week’s featured subject, but then missed it.  Jean Sherrard estimates that he has made about twenty visits to this basalt bluff above the Yakima River.  First, of course, he had to find it by studying the photographer-essayist Hugh Paradise’s featured photograph. At legal speed it takes about two-and-a-half hours from Seattle to reach the half-paved shoulder that Jean describes as “a little triangle squeezed between Washington State Route 821 and about a two-hundred-foot fall into the Yakima River.”  Sensibly, the Washington State Department of Transportation has set no “park here” signs marking Jean’s postage-stamp sized “parking lot.”  It can be by found following the ensuing instructions. 

Asahel Curtis' look south to the canyon curve and cut above the Yakima River. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)
Asahel Curtis’ look south to the canyon curve and cut above the Yakima River. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)
A Washington Dept of Highways snapshot taken somewhere along the canyon road, perhaps even from "our" cut.
A Washington Department of Highways snapshot taken somewhere along the canyon road, perhaps even of “our” cut.
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The cut next to the viewpoint

About four miles south of Ellensburg the now nearly century-old Yakima River Canyon Road, while keeping for the most part close to the river, follows the eroding trout stream’s serpentine cut through the Umtanum Ridge.  The Ridge takes up most of the skyline in the now-and-then photos.  The highway curves its way through about ten oxbows (that is twenty curves, some of them hairpins) on its way to the lower Yakima Valley. After about the eighth curve, the Canyon Highway reaches the landmark Red’s Fly Shop, which is actually a sumptuous lodge, and begins a half-mile climb to the unmarked Paradise/Sherrard petite parking place.  At the top if you suddenly enter a highway regrade that cuts through the bluff you were just ascending, you have gone a few feet too far.  Turn around and try again.

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The artist Hugh Paradise was born in 1912 in Montana and died in Seattle in 1979. His Post-Intelligencer obituary described him as a “retired free-lance writer and photographer, who resided in the Seattle area for over 40 years.”  I have studied and admired Paradise since a friend shared a few hundred of his negatives with me several years ago.  His name fits.  Paradise wrote short essays illustrated with his arcadian photographs for Sunset Magazine.  An

Hugh Paradise posing his wife Anne Marie Van Cleve at Grand Coulee.
Hugh Paradise posing his wife Anne Marie Van Cleve at Grand Coulee.

appreciative Sunset editor described him to me as “poetic.”  He married Anne Marie Van Cleve in 1942, whom he frequently posed in the middle-distance of the northwest landscapes that attracted him.  Paradise was also exceptionally smart.  He belonged both to Mensa and the Triple Nine Society, gregarious and inquiring societies for people with high intelligence scores.  His obituary describes his “major interest” as “the world about him.”

Scene in the Yakima River Canyon, photographed by Horace Sykes ca. 1947.
Scene in the Yakima River Canyon, photographed by Horace Sykes ca. 1947.

Hugh Paradise had a handicap, a breathing condition that prevented him from ranging far into the scenery he photographed. For this photo high above the Yakima, he was forced to stay near the side of the road. In the 1960s, this magazine’s predecessors, The Seattle Times “Charmed Land Magazine” and The Seattle Times “Color Rotogravure, the Sunday Pictorial Magazine,“ published several examples of Hugh Paradise’s intimate art.  While I never met him, I continue to collect him. 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?

Starting with you Jean.  First dear readers,  we have encouraged Jean to include some of the photos he has taken during his many visits to the Yakima Canyon.  They are grouped directly below the feature text, that is, between it and this answer to Jean’s by now conventional question about “extras.”

Hey, Paul – here are a few selections of the canyon from over the years. The first set repeat Paradise’s shot in different weathers and seasons. The second are a handful that I dug up at the last minute. Enjoy.

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Ah but we have very little in the way of our own Times features that cover the state’s “dry side” subjects.  Choosing to pull neither text nor photos from “Building Washington,” the History of Washington State Public Works that we published years ago, which is filled with images from every corner of the state, we have played it convenient and  linked first a feature on the dedication of what we popularly call the Mercer Island Floating Bridge.  We do it for the sufficient reason that our featured photo looks to the east in the direction of Yakima, as do the second, third and fourth links below. For the last of these, this week, eleven links we shall pivot far north to the wet side of Alaska with the feature built on Jean’s recent visit to Juneau.  Following those we will sprinkle a few of the east side (of Washington State) subjects that we pulled three years ago for the “Our Daily Sykes” feature, which printed here a few hundred photographs taken by Horace Sykes, mostly in the 1940s, of his trips around Washington – and the West too – as a sensitive fire insurance adjuster with a good camera and eye for picturesque compositions.   And we will likely find a few other images that touch on Yakima, the river or the city too.

THEN: The Volunteer Park water tower was completed in 1907 on Capitol Hill’s highest point in aid the water pressure of its service to the often grand homes of its many nearly new neighbors. The jogging corner of E. Prospect Street and 15th Avenue E. is near the bottom of the Oakes postcard. (Historical Photo courtesy Mike Fairley)

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 Caption: Amateur photographer George Brown most likely took this view of Portland’s 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition from the north porch of the Washington State Building. Brown also played clarinet in Wagner’s popular concert and marching band, which was probably performing at the Expo. (pic courtesy of Bill Greer)

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THEN:Carolyn Marr, Museum of History and Industry librarian and Anders Wilse expert, answers the joking caption on Councilman Reinhard’s pant leg with another example. “Wilse had a wry sense of humor. In one photo he took during the Great Northern Railroad construction project, a group of 4 men sit around a table playing cards with revolvers and glasses of liquid. He wrote on the photo ‘A Merry Christmas.’” (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

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: Photographer Frank LaRoche arrived in Seattle a few weeks after its Great Fire of 1889. Through the 1890s he made scores of round-trips to the Klondike, including this visit to the Juneau intersection of Seward Avenue and Front Street. (Museum of History and Industry)

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HORACE SYKES NEARBY THE RIVER

 First will show a few photos of Horace.  His home was above the beach in Magnolia.

Horace is on the far-right of this probably timed photo of his family gathered for a Christmas of uncertain date.
Horace is on the far-right of this probably timed photo of his family gathered for a Christmas of uncertain date.
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Horace , on the right, with a friend.  Both wear Washington Athletic Club stickers.
Somewhere on the Yakima River below the canyon.
Somewhere on the Yakima River below the canyon.
Somewhere on the Yakima
Somewhere on the Yakima
The Yakima Valley - farming with irrigation
The Yakima Valley – farming with irrigation
In the Yakima River Canyon
In the Yakima River Canyon
A Yakima Valley setting with Mt. Adams on the horizon.
A Yakima Valley setting with Mt. Adams on the horizon.
Thru his years of traveling the West, Horace Sykes came upon many spectacles.
Thru his years of traveling the West, Horace Sykes came upon many spectacles.
Somewhere on the dry side of the Cascades
Somewhere on the dry side of the Cascades
Nearby beside the Columbia River
Nearby beside the Columbia River
Where sheep may safely graze
Where sheep may safely graze
Another of the Yakima Canyon
Another of the Yakima Canyon
Horace visited Steptoe Butte several times.
Horace visited Steptoe Butte several times.
Steptoe Butte
Steptoe Butte
Mt. Adams on the horizon
Mt. Adams on the horizon
Horace's 1951 Chevy.
Horace’s 1951 Chevy in the state’s scablands – it seems..

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Red road moving thru a green landscape.
Red road moving thru a green landscape.

 

Moonlight somewhere in the valley
Moonlight somewhere in the valley
Horace with his camera in a canyon, but more likely the Snake River that the Yakima.
Horace keeping limber with his camera in a canyon, but more likely the Snake River that the Yakima.

2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Yakima Canyon”

  1. Paul, it brought me great pleasure to see that one Hugh’s photos made it to the Now and Then section this Sunday (11/13/16) in the Seattle Times. It was my mother and me that brought you those photos, my mother was the court appointed guardian for Anne, and on her passing was in charge of all of the arrangements of her estate, which included us bring you those photos. I recall being somewhat apologetic that most of the photos were of nature and the outdoors, and not of more identifiable buildings or other more recognizable items. It is fantastic you and your team was able to correlate the Then scene with the Now. It would be nice if you would correct the “courtesy of” acknowledgement to her, Thelma Coney.

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