Seattle Now & Then: The Blyth Barn on Squak Slough

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking north over Squak Slough (aka the Sammamish River) and the Blyth farm ca. 1900. The barn stood near what is now the tee for the 18th hole of the Wayne Golf Course.
NOW: Left-to-right, knowledgeable Squak Slough historians Dean Jowers, Margaret Turcott, and Sue Kienast, pose for Jean with their backs to the narrowed waterway. Pilings for the Waynita Way bridge appear on the right.

When first glimpsed, this week’s “then” charmed me with a classical restraint that is softly repeated, upside down, in Squak Slough.  Especially satisfying are the comely barn, the blooming fruit tree and the saw-tooth horizon strung with surviving fir trees that for reasons only known to sawyers were earlier rejected by the clear-cutting lumber jacks. We are also puzzled why the unnamed photographer chose to have the farmhouse roof rise above and seemingly out of the barn.  They seem to be attached, but, of course, are not.

Although minimal, the caption penned on the negative is, of course, most helpful.  It gives the indigenous name for the waterway we are now more likely to call the Sammamish River.  Wondering where on the slough/river and by whom this farm was built, Jean and I sought expert help by first printing this Sunday’s photo in our blog dorpatsherrardlomont.  Dean Jowers, a Redmond Historical Society volunteer, read the posting and took the challenge. With a print-out of this farm-scape in hand the retired operations manager, with a talent for details and spatial relations, hiked the fourteen miles that the slough courses between the two big lakes: Sammamish and Washington.  In the beginning of his search, Jowers confesses, “I started at the wrong end of the river and was first wrong three times.” But then with the help of a 1919 topographical map, he found the horizon line.  It registered the slight dent – or slump – above the farmhouse seen in the featured photograph at the top.

The Acme, one of the shallow steamers that moved passengers and goods on Slough. Note the familiar barn just above the two men on the steamer’s bow, and the familiar farmhouse on the left.

In Jean’s repeat, Dean Jowers poses for the “now” with, left-to-right, Margret Turcott and Sue Kienast, both energetic members of the Bothell Historical Society. They confirm Jowers’ research. This a little more than two miles above the Slough’s outflow into Lake Washington.  The “then” photo was taken years before Lake Washington was lowered nine feet in 1916 with the building of the ship canal. In spite of the drop, the slough is still slow moving.

This is John & Christina Blyth’s Farm.  At the urging of her brother Mattias Bargquist, the thirty-three year old Christina emigrated from Sweden in 1884. She soon met her future husband John Blyth, who was her brother’s friend and “next door” neighbor across the Slough. Perhaps there was some romantic maneuvering and conjugal conspiring involved in this meeting, for John accompanied Mattias on the lake steamer that first delivered Christina from Seattle to their farms facing across the Slough.  John soon married Christina in their family home on March 11, 1885.  Margaret Turcott tells this and other Blyth and Bothell stories well in her new book titled “Bothell” to be published this coming August.  Dean Jowers suggests that the bridge showing on the right was built by these intertwined families for their friendly visits.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, fellahs?  Yes Jean, we will not disappoint you.   Like candidates in a voters guide or totem figures on a pole we will stack below some features, old and older, that might lead one directly or eventually to the little river that runs between Bothell and Redmond.

montlake-f-roanoke

THEN: With great clouds overhead and a landscape 45 years shorter than now, one vehicle – a pickup heading east – gets this part of State Route 520 to itself on a weekday afternoon. (courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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.

https://sherrlock.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/xassoct-poultry-ext-then11.jpg?w=1080&h=795

THEN: This panorama could have used a tower (or drone) to better survey the size of the June 1, 191l, crowd gathered in Fremont/Ross to celebrate the beginning of construction on the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

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: 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: From studying both aerial and tax photos, Redmond historian Tom Hitzroth figures that the bell tower on the roof of Brown’s Garage was removed between 1936 and 1938. (Most likely it was used to alert the town’s volunteer fire department.) By then Mayor Bill Brown had sold his garage while keeping his mayoral chair. (Courtesy, Redmond Historical Society)

THEN: Redmond reaped its first bank in 1911 at the pioneer corner of Cleveland Avenue and Leary Way. (Courtesy, Kirkland Historical Society)

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