A royal couple, a Seattle Camera Club and an admired photographer all have visited the Giant Cedar Stump near Arlington.

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SURELY SOME — maybe many — Pacific NW readers will remember this magazine’s predecessor, The Seattle Sunday Times Rotogravure. That weekend supplement covered regional stories that were illustrated — often lavishly — with sepia-toned photographs.

Pacific NW Magazine: Oct. 30 edition

International Stunt School student Vincent Johnsson practices a fire-burn exercise — ISS instructors kept reminding the students to look more dramatically agonized while on fire. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
International Stunt School student Vincent Johnsson practices a fire-burn exercise — ISS instructors kept reminding the students to look more dramatically agonized while on fire. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

For instance, on June 18, 1939, the Rotogravure accompanied members of “A Seattle Camera Club … On a Picture Hunt” north on the then-freshly paved Pacific Coast Highway. Their destination was Rosario Beach, and anything picturesque along the way. This full-page feature was adorned with 10 illustrations, including one of the club members posing with the auto caravan beside this week’s subject, “the ancient, picturesque stump that has been preserved beside the highway near Arlington.”

The camera club was following in the lustrous wake of Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha of Norway, who, a few days earlier, had driven through this often-sideswiped artifact without hitting it. Here, approaching the estuary of the Stillaguamish River and about midway on their 10-week tour of America, the attentive royal couple surely read the interpretive text framed in a triangle above the entrance to the tunneled trunk. It reads: “Relic of a Vanquished Forest / Western Red Cedar / (Thuja Plicata Don) /Age 1250 years / Preserved at Request of Snohomish Co. Pioneers /A.D. Arlington, Washington 1922.”

Soon after the royals and the clubbies visited the stump, Boyd Ellis, Arlington’s popular postcard purveyor, recorded the historical photo in 1940. In his decades of exploring the Northwest for marketable snapshots of landmarks and other roadside attractions, Ellis snapped at least a dozen exposures of this Giant Cedar Stump. Our “then” photo is one of at least two stump portraits he took, posing the same auto (perhaps his).

Jean Sherrard’s late-summer visit to the stump was not intended for a feature but for a roadside pause at Interstate 5’s Smokey Point Rest Area. The highway department has the stump at “milepost 207, about eight miles north of Marysville.”

More to the point of the Giant Cedar Stump’s heritage, the 1,000-plus-year-old artifact has been associated with Arlington since the late 19th century, when that town was abuzz with mills. The stump is about 3½ miles from Arlington as the crow flies.

The highway department moved the stump here, its last home, in 1971. I will brag some by noting that I first stumbled upon the stump, and without injury, in the late 1960s, when it was still beside the highway, about one mile north of the Smokey Point Rest Area. I was headed for Vancouver and pulled over.