Bothell and Redmond historical-society volunteers team to tell a Squak Slough tale.
WHEN FIRST GLIMPSED, this week’s “Then” photo charmed me with a classical restraint that is softly repeated, upside down, in Squak Slough. Especially satisfying are the comely barn, the blooming fruit tree and the saw-tooth horizon strung with surviving fir trees that for reasons known only to sawyers were earlier rejected by the clear-cutting lumberjacks. I am puzzled why the unnamed photographer chose to have the farmhouse roof rise above and seemingly out of the barn. They seem to be attached but, of course, are not.
Although minimal, the caption penned on the negative is most helpful. It gives the indigenous name for the waterway we now are more likely to call the Sammamish River. Wondering where on the slough/river and by whom this farm was built, Jean Sherrard and I sought expert help by first printing this photo in our blog.
Dean Jowers, a Redmond Historical Society volunteer, read the post and took the challenge. With a printout of this farmscape in hand, the retired operations manager with a talent for details and spatial relations hiked the 14 miles the slough courses between the two big lakes: Sammamish and Washington. In the beginning of his search, Jowers confesses, “I started at the wrong end of the river and was first wrong three times.” But then, with the help of a 1919 topographical map, he found the horizon line. It registered the slight dent — or slump — above the farmhouse seen here.
In the “Now” photo, Jowers poses with, from left, Margaret Turcott and Sue Kienast, both energetic members of the Bothell Historical Society. They confirm Jowers’ research. The new photo is a little more than 2 miles above the slough’s outflow into Lake Washington.
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The “Then” photo was taken years before Lake Washington was lowered 9 feet, in 1916, with the building of the Ship Canal. (Despite the drop, the slough is still slow-moving.) This is John and Christina Blyth’s farm. At the urging of her brother, 33-year-old Christina emigrated from Sweden in 1884. She soon met her future husband, John Blyth, who was her brother’s friend and “next-door” neighbor across the slough. John accompanied Christina’s brother on the lake steamer that first delivered her from Seattle to their farms across the slough. John soon married Christina in their family home on March 11, 1885. Jowers suggests that the bridge showing on the right was built by these intertwined families for their friendly visits.
Turcott tells other Blyth and Bothell stories in her new book, “Bothell,” to be published in August.