Then & Now

I published this photograph of the Lower Crab Creek Valley as viewed from the Taunton townsite in “Another Flood.” On a recent visit to the same spot I took the following photograph.

This summer I took a hurried trip through Eastern Washington, photographing sites I have written about. In this article I try to post old photographs alongside more recent ones. In some cases I have also provided views of places previously mentioned in my posts, although no older photographs are available to compare them to.

A view of the Lower Crab Creek Valley in 2012, more than fifty years after the previous photograph was taken, reveals the changing ecology of the formerly arid landscape. Irrigation and invasive species have radically altered the local habitat.

There is definitely an article to be written concerning the environmental changes that have taken place in the Lower Crab Creek Valley over the past seventy years. I wish I had the qualifications to write it. But pictures can reveal many changes.

This photograph of the distinctive peak north of Snoqualmie Pass was probably taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s, before there was a freeway through the pass. I remember long hours on the two-lane highway behind long lines of traffic in those days.

This photograph of the same peak was taken from the parking lot behind the restrooms and store in the old state rest area.

My recent trip to the Crab Creek Valley afforded me the opportunity to revisit some places my articles have explored. I tried to relocate places my father or his family members photographed decades ago, or places my articles pictured.

Army Air Force photograph shows the remains of Lt. Pickerall’s P-39Q in 1944. Wahatis Peak and the Smyrna Bench on Saddle Mountain are visible in the distance.

The location of Pickerall’s fatal crash has become a half-circle hay field at the intersection of Highway 26 and the Corfu Road.

Corfu was the center of the pioneer community when my father was growing up. The schoolhouse was where widely scattered families met. The students who attended Corfu’s school continued to gather decades later at the Corfu Pioneer Picnic which was usually held at a park in North Bend in the early 1960s.

The entire faculty and staff of the two-room brick schoolhouse at Corfu pose for an informal portrait on the steps of the building, in a photograph taken in the 1930s or 1940s. My dad’s report cards were signed by a G. W. Faulkner…one of these teachers, no doubt.

The rest of the Corfu school has disappeared, burned to the ground in the late 1960s, but the steps remain.

Schools provided a community and entertainment for settlers along Lower Crab Creek. The following photographs are of actors in a school play at Taunton in the early 1930s.

Lawrence Danielson, right, runs herd on a group of younger boys who appeared as farmers a Taunton school production in the 1930s.

Another troup of school actors includes Herman Danielson, second from left in the second row, and Luke (Earl Arthur) Danielson, third from left in the front row.

Leader actors in the Taunton School production pose on the steps of the school. This building stood on a small clay terrace north of the railroad tracks. The only hint of its existence today are some small garden spaces lined in smooth rocks. The building itself, minus brick and concrete work, was moved into Othello where it continues to serve as a duplex rental unit.

Overgrown by invasive weeds and sagebrush, the site of the Taunton schoolhouse overlooked the Lower Crab Creek valley. The building sat on this terrace north of and below the Milwaukee tracks.

I didn’t post a photograph of the Ellensburg Army Air Field in my article about the training plane crashes across Eastern Washington in the summer of 1944. The base lasted only a few months, but during that time several crashes occurred, including those of three P-38s in November and December of 1943.

The former location of Ellensburg AAF (1943) is on private property today near the location of this photograph. Rows of power-generating wind turbines line the horizon beyond the former runways. A month after I took this photograph the Taylor Bridge Fire swept through this area, destroying homes and disrupting lives.

The Army Air Field at Ephrata is still in business. The hangar was used as a location in the Richard Dreyfuss film, Always.

In The Parting of the Waters I mentioned clay banks behind Taunton where we often found fossil bones and fish vertebrae. This photograph of the site dates from the early 1980s.

Clay deposits where Ice Age Floods must have virtually stilled, allowing fine sediments and ground up remains of animals to precipitate, near Taunton. As children, we often collected what we called fish fossils here, wondering why they could be found in the middle of this desert.

The rounded hills and vegetation disguise heavily stratified layers of clay. In some areas railroad construction revealed a thick layer of white volcanic ash from Mount Mazama (Crater Lake). Here a softer gray layer provides a perfect place for mud dauber wasps and other insects to dig their burrows. Burrowing owls favor nearby cliffs.

The hills we used to wander were miles from the nearest dwellings in the days when we hiked them. Today homes are located very nearby, and the owners of the property discourage hikers. I’m sure the land must have belonged to someone when we were children, but at that time nobody had any complaints about us playing there.

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One response to “Then & Now

  1. a old school mate, really enjoyed-Dorothy Robinson Hanen

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