An understanding of what created the Dry Falls in the Grand Coulee Canyon was first revealed about 13000 years after the event. And it was not yet known when tourists first started to visit the site in the early 20th Century. The 1890 completion of the Northern Pacific branch line between Spokane and Coulee City made visits to both the Dry Falls and Soap Lake possible for persons willing to trek or take a wagon the last few miles to those destinations from the rail head. The opening of the trans-state highway over Stevens Pass in 1925 substantially increased the volume of puzzled visitors. Many by them brought cameras and the fenced prospect constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression has been the platform from which most of the snapshots have been made depicting the effects the late ice age’s great floods as ice dams broke releasing walls of water sometimes 1,000 feet high. Believe it or not.
Now we will nudge Jean to put up at least one more historic shot of the Dry Falls – the one (or perhaps two) we used in our book “Washington Then and Now” – and examples of his own repeats in 2006. (Readers may want to visit our website to see more of Jean’s state-wide repeats pulled from the book.)
(click to enlarge photos)
Horace Sykes wide-angle look at Dry Falls ca. 1950.
Jean writes: the following photos are from two visits to Dry Falls. I’ll begin with the Then & Now photos we featured in our book. A couple from Seattle graciously posed for me to help repeat the original. The boy in the red shirt darted into the photo at the last second, giving it a little impromptu oomph.
Two poplars but where? Horace Sykes does not tell us. To me one looks Okanogan and the other Palouse, or vice versa. Are they poplars? My best evidence is based only on “family resemblance.” Anyone in our family would have called these stately trees poplars.
This, among other things, is, I believe, Mt. Baker from the somewhere south at sunset. Someone who knows the hills and lower mountains between Arlington and the Canadian border may recognize one or another of those several ridges. Again, like most of Horace Sykes’ slides this one is neither dated nor named. “]
The rich farmland of the Palouse is covered with such deep silt loam that it may be a rare day when the Palouse River does not run at least mildly muddy. The top of two Horace Sykes recordings of these falling waters may be extraordinarily rich with silt even for the state ranger who watches over Palouse Falls. The other Sykes catches a rainbow, which is common in that corner of the state with the most sun and the spray generated by the lower falls. Depending upon water levels, it is an about 180 foot drop. Wet side Washingtonians may have memorized the 270 foot drop at Snoqualmie Falls. Greater differences between these east-west cataracts are the volume of water that is suddenly and for a few second exposed and the yearly number of visitors. The official Snoqualmie Falls website claims 1.5 million – believe it or not. Jean (our Sherrard) was among the somewhat fewer visitor to the Palouse Falls in 2006. We thought to include the plummeting Palouse in our book “Washington Then and Now” but the frugal publisher dropped a few pages and so for us stopped the river. Now we expect that Jean will let it flow and post his nows to Sykes thens. He has promised. The publisher did, however, keep Snoqualmie Falls in the book, most likely calculating the number of book buyers that were in its neighborhood. [Click TWICE to Enlarge]
Here, Paul, is the photo we never used. You’ll note the Falls on that day was mostly covered by shadow from the surrounding hills. I believe we reckoned that it would emerge seasonally from the darkness.
We found the location of Sykes first pictograph included below with a little browsing on Google Earth. At some point in our highly speculative “Sykes Kodachrome Period” – ca. 1945-53 – Horace Sykes visited this central Utah panel, an example of what the experts call a Barrier Canyon Style of rock art. The name for this site is Buckhorn Draw. It is a tributary to the San Rafael River if you wish to go exploring for it. It will not take long. We have called the top panel “How the West Was Won” – an obvious, we hope, reference to the graffiti that marks the easier to reach lower parts of the rock art. Take some time to read the contributions. Some are dated and proudly note the homes of the scribblers. I found on line another rendering of this Sykes panel, which is included below it. There much of the defacing has been retouched in a 1996 effort at restoration – but not all of it. The remaining pattern may be in same group. Can’t say for I’ve not found it as of yet. With its rock face it is certainly a joy forever, and perhaps it is also harder to reach. [Click twice – sometimes – to Enlarge]
Driving through or along the edge of summer storms Horace Sykes caught many rainbows ordinarily from his car window or the side of the road. Typically we do not know where any of these were recorded, only that like most of the hundreds of his surviving Kodachrome slides, they were photographed somewhere in the American West in the 1940s and early 1950s. Here the rainbow with the pine tree seems to be reaching for paradise and we might too if we could find a way across the water. The one with the highway I’d chance as somewhere in Eastern Washington. The “psychedelic” one is pushed from an underexposed slide, again we do not know where. [Click – sometimes twice – to Enlarge]