Fremont Historical Society members quickly identified the location of a photo taken before 1911. Other details were harder to pin down.

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MEMBERS OF THE Fremont Historical Society stand for a photo in the southbound lanes of the Fremont Bridge, having just adjourned from a monthly meeting at the Fremont Public Library.

The historians met, in part, to consider where to stand for the “Now” photo and to study the inviting jumble of meanings in the older photograph. The leading goals were to discover the “where” and “when,” which, judging from the shadows, was around noon. Although the photo came with no caption, the members easily knew, and in unison, that this was Fremont Avenue. They were less secure regarding its uncertain elevation. That will take more time.

Someone noticed the sign exhibited, upper-left, in the second-floor corner window of the clapboard business block. It reads, “Mabel Canney, Piano.” Searches of city directories revealed that Mabel, and probably her piano, was located here in 1908 and 1909, and followed in 1910 by her younger sister, Ella Mae. This, of course, strongly suggests that the Canneys were a musical family, but also that this subject looking north on Fremont Avenue was photographed sometime when one, or both, of the sisters was in residence there.

Through the years of building the Lake Washington Ship Canal, 1911-17, there were big grade changes here.

In this first block south of the intersection of Fremont Avenue and Ewing Street, now 34th Street, Fremont was cut off and dropped below a retaining wall. In the process, both the mercantile building with the Canney piano sign on the left and the mill warehouse on the far right were settled to rest below the deck of the short-lived Fremont Bridge constructed in 1911-12.

That was not the bascule bridge, which opened in 1917, but the span that reached North 34th Street and the Fremont business district at the new and still-holding elevation.

The investigating society also discovered that the railroad track, which curves across the bottom of the “Then” photo, was kept to pass below the new Fremont Bridge. It was the Seattle and International Railroad spur that reached Fremont’s main employer, the Bryant Lumber Mill, to the right and behind the unnamed photographer.