[Click TWICE to Enlarge] Horace Sykes’ visits to the southwest are mostly inscrutable to me. Aside for one trip through the national parks of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and California with the family when I was thirteen I am not familiar with it. That trip and the magazine Arizona Highways, to which my dad had a subscription are my sources. At least some of Sykes’ southwest looks like it is out of that highly saturated and sunset-prone publication. And so and again we will be most pleased if someone recognizes these unidentified Horace Sykes landscapes or asks someone whom they think may have insight. Would that Horace had penciled the name places on the cardboard of his slides, and yet that would have surely spoiled most of the hide-and-seek of it all.
Even more familiar than yesterday’s Steptoe Butte, today’s Crater Lake is an exception to the Sykes “rule” of unidentified subjects. Of course, all of his landscapes are familiar to someone and this is one of the anticipated or hoped-for pleasures of showing them, that persons will come forward and locate the ones for which we are nearly clueless. This Crater Lake subject is also unique for Sykes in that it includes people. Most of his landscapes are without them. We would not mind it if someone could also name names for these few tourists. Their tableau is so perfect that we might wonder if they have been posed – but probably not. [Click to Enlarge]
Two of these Sykes’ Steptoes were taken from the top of the Butte, where the road that winds about the Butte reaches it. Horace Sykes visited Steptoe several times. Getting to the top was easier after the coiling road was completed in 1946 – if memory serves. Before that it was switchbacks all the way. In our book Washington Then and Now Jean and I include one of these Sykes shots from the top and also describe the part Cashup Davis played both below Steptoe were he and his large family serviced stage coaches and on top where he built a Hotel. It was a Quixotic labor for all water had to be carted to the top and there were not a lot of tourists in the Palouse in the 1890s. The shaped stones that show in both views from the top are remnants of the hotel’s foundation. It was also in the late 1940s that my dad drove me up that road. I was so thrilled that I still own a childish (or childlike) enthusiasm for Steptoe Butte. [Click the images to enlarge them.]
The barn of this ruined farm seems to have held up so well that we might imagine restoring the grand old home – except that this is another unidentified Sykes view from the 1940s. But where? Such architecture in such a setting must be remembered by someone. [To enlarge click and then click again, if you like.]
We know that these are the wheat fields of the Palouse and that Steptoe Butte, its topographical oddity, rises above it all on the distant horizon. But what horizon? Given the profile of the Butte, and the helpful guide of Google Earth, we think it most likely that Horace Sykes took this surreal view of it from the east – in the direction of Idaho, or rather away from Idaho with that state behind his back. From the evidence of his collection Sykes visited the Palouse often and drove to the top of the Butte at least three times. We shall follow him there with an upcoming “Daily Sykes” but not tomorrow, not yet. [Click to enlarge and then click again.]
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We here at DorpatSherrardLomont are pleased to announce the first installment of our newest feature ‘Our Daily Sykes’.
Photographer Horace Sykes (a member of the Seattle Photography Club) wandered the northwest for decades seeking the picturesque and the profound, snapping shots of flowers, snowstorms, mountains, valleys, and plains. Paul has a large collection of these marvels and has used a number of them in Seattle Now & Then – and several in his and Jean’s recent book Washington Then and Now. Sykes’ keen eye captured visual treasures during the 40s and 50s, but most of his photos are without annotation, which often leaves us guessing at location.
Hence, we propose a kind of collaboration with our readers. We will, as the title suggests, offer a daily Sykes photo; some will be well-known locations, others obscure or unfamiliar. If you know where a photo was taken, please let us know; and if the urge takes you, perhaps even attempt your own repeat.
Above is Jean’s beloved Yakima River Valley. There you can see Mt. Adams off in the distance and even through the summer haze some of Mt. Rainier on the far right horizon. But where this is in the valley, and how close to Sunnyside, Jean’s frequent destination, we do not know. We would ask any reader who does know and can identify the location of the bluff on the left to step forward.
Paul will provide the cookies.