Archive for July, 2010

Sunday, August 22
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
“Pushing Up the Sky”

A program of audience participation plays for children based on Snohomish tribal legend and folktales from around the world, followed by a naturalist guided nature walk, will be presented by Friends of Yesler Swamp, UW Botanic Gardens and the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) at the museum, 2700 24th Avenue East, Seattle.

Snohomish costumes for “Pushing Up the Sky” provided by Stonington Gallery, Seattle, Barry Herem, northwest artist and Joan Golston private collection.

The afternoon program will begin with a brief slide presentation and talk about Yesler Swamp and the work being done by Friends of Yesler Swamp to preserve and protect this unique piece of nature in the heart of Seattle. Following the presentation, children in the audience will be invited to help the actors bring three classic folk tales to life on the stage.

Pushing Up the Sky – Traditional Tale of the Snohomish Tribe
The Three Billy Goats Gruff — Classic Norwegian Folk Tale
The House That Was Too Small — Jewish Folk Tale from Eastern Europe

Plays produced and directed by Art Feinglass, sets by Gerry Gettel, slide show Jean Colley, nature walk led by Kern Ewing.

Live music provided by The Dead Sea Squirrels.

After the plays, children and adults will be invited on a nature walk led by a naturalist guide. They will learn about the importance of restoration, which enhances native plants and wildlife habitat.

The program is recommended for ages 3 and up. Suggested donation $10 per

Proceeds go to the restoration and preservation of Yesler Swamp, a unique piece of nature in the heart of Seattle.

Directions to MOHAI can be found at


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Hike Historic Yesler Creek

The Saturday morning Hike from the Headwaters of Yesler Creek — led by Kern Ewing of UW Botanic Gardens — was enjoyed by all. We were even joined by two kids in a double-wide stroller and two dogs!

Here’s what you might have seen looking at Yesler Swamp more than a hundred years ago:

To learn more about the historic Yesler Creek Waterway, you can check out the following sites:

Yesler Creek:

Restoration of Yesler Creek:

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Yesler’s Mill and Town of Yesler:

Historic photo showing area of Yesler Swamp:

History of Union Bay Natural Area:

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We’re offering a very cool event this coming Saturday to further delve into the human and plant history of Yesler Swamp.

What: An urban hike, from the “headwaters” of Yesler Creek to Yesler Swamp.

When: Saturday, July 10, from 9-11 a.m.

Where: We’ll meet at 9 a.m. at the Yesler Creek headwaters (actually, more the head trickle—do not come expecting a gusher!), just south of the Sand Point Metropolitan Market on the Burke-Gilman Trail. We’ll then start out, trooping as a group on a paved path through a lovely leafy ravine, eventually crossing Sand Point Way and wending our way to Yesler Swamp, next to the Center for Urban Horticulture at 3501 NE 41st Street.  The last 200 feet of the hike will be into Yesler Swamp itself. If you went on the January Swamp Walk, you’ll have the chance to see how the season and higher water levels have transformed the swamp. And you’ll be walking on the handiwork of our stellar volunteers who have chipped the trail.

Parking: Park on the street near NE 55th Street and 40th Ave NE. We’ll have signs there to direct you to our meeting spot.

Tour leader: Kern Ewing, UW native plant ecologist extraordinaire. He knows more about restoration of native areas–that’s what we’re doing in Yesler Swamp–than the rest of us put together!

Length of hike: The hike, one way, is 8/10 of a mile. If you prefer to walk only one way, we’ll be able to give you a ride back to your car.

Special equipment: None. Wear what you’d wear to walk around Greenlake.

Reward at end: Cool drinks + cookies.

Background on the area we’ll be traversing:

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Memories of Yesler Swamp

Friends of Yesler Creek are looking for memories of Yesler Creek from the 1920s and later.

Here’s one wonderful recollection from Jim Thompson, who remembers the days when he was a “little shaver” and Yesler Swamp was the Yesler Mill log run.

Do you have memories of Yesler Swamp? How about your neighbors? Share your memories at

Jim Thompson remembers Yesler Creek – he calls it “Big Rock Creek” – like this:
The creek flows from Big Rock in Wedgewood down past the Ravenna School; piped under the 2 lane brick Sand Point road ; then past Jimmie the Jap’s truck garden on the East side (now Laurelon Terrace which was owned by the Shibyamas); and a large home on the west side, which home was purchased in 1950s by Dr. John and Jane Thompson – of which the basement become the first Laurelhurst Medical Clinic and the forerunner of Children’s Hospital; into the swamp at the foot of NE 41st, (now Bruce McCaw’s children’s enterprise) where we had trap lines along with the trap lines in now University Village, and then piped under NE 41st into the Yesler Mill mill run — which is alongside of now Surber Drive.. The Yesler’ mill run was still stuffed with logs. The Yesler mill was vacated and it burned in the late 1920s. The smoke from the sawdust piles was prevalent for many years after. And don’t forget the railroad to the Yesler mill and the cedar shake mill on Portage Bay – now the U of W police department building.

The Horticulture Center now occupies much of the Yesler Mill Property and one can dig down through old sawdust for many feet to bare hard ground. Accompanying all of this was the City garbage dump to the west which was a haven to shoot Norwegian water rats with a 22 caliber rifle. As you know, the U of W Athletic facility now occupies this property

Our trap lines produced, muskrats, rats, beavers, and an occasional mink, and other critters which were sold to Professor Kincaid at the U of W Zoological Department for the unheard of sum of $0.50. if still alive. If dead, no value, We utilized bicycles as our transportation. The road was the “2 lane fill in” which is now NE 45 past 5 corners and the village. There, of course, was no viaduct up the hill but instead access to the U and the top of the hill was a winding road through a tunnel under the railroad which was located approximately where the IMA Building now exists.

Surber Drive was a fill and put in as a short cut to Webster point as opposed to 42nd NE.. It was motivated by DE Skinner to facilitate his guests – a waste of money and strongly opposed!!! When built there were very few homes in this area — Probably Austin Thayers and one other on Union Bay waterfront plus Dean Guthrey’s and Stevenson Smith’s which were at the top of the rise with entrances from NE 41st The hill was still primarily an orchard running to the lake; all from the hunting days of the meat provider hunter for Laurelhurst and Ravenna..

The only homes were those facing 42nd NE starting at NE 41st with the Blanchard home and children (Norm, Eunice, and Carlyse) – later owned by Al Hundorf,CPA – At the other end south was the Terry and Lucile home at 3803 – 42nd NE Terry and Lou lived on their property for 74 years starting in 1932. This home was originally owned by Terrel of dog food fame. Up the Hill, at the northwest corner of 43rd NE and NE 38th was Hec Edmundson’s home. The little brick home mid block north on NE 38th was built by May Everett for her sister, Hettie Renshaw – my grandmother.

Lake Washington, Portage Bay, and Lake Union were lowered several feet to accommodate building a much smaller Hiram Chitenden Locks thus saving several millions of dollars. The mill run was dug deep enough to accomodate a tug and thus still exists even with the lowering of the lake. We kept an old very small sailboat – the tar baby – in the mill run

Be certain that you know how the logs were towed from the log boom where the apartments are now on the North side of Madison and then positioned in the mill run for the recut at the mill. These were 4-5 feet diameter and or larger and sometimes 100 ft ++ long thus they were very difficult to manuever

Also there are 60- 80 lb carp in Union Bay and the mill run being dumped into Union Bay after the Alaska Yukon Expo. I have caught and speared them as a little shaver.

Anymore lies, let me know, I have a million of them.

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