Category Archives: Duwamish River
Above photo is of me in 1955 and the lower image is of my grandson, Adam. Same river, 61 years apart.
I took this image with my Pentax K-x, which has 12mp as opposed to the Nikon D610 DSLR I usually use. This image almost looks like a film image, maybe due to less pixels as compared to newer DSLR models.
The Port of Seattle owns a stretch of land that was once private residences. It’s referred to Pier 117, but there is no pier and the small green space they created was mainly for a large rain garden to keep street runoff out of the Duwamish River. The black and white image, in the foreground, was where two, ramshackle, abandoned houses were located. I have a photo of them somewhere in my archives. They ( the Port) left the two cement pads that the houses were sitting on, for some reason. There is a walking path the length of this ‘park’.
Across the river is I think an abandoned factory, perhaps the old Kenworth plant. Not totally sure. Again, this is the oldest EPA Superfund site in the US.
Across the street from the park is Coffee Umbria, a coffee roaster, etc. Apparently razor wire is needed to protect the business. This particular section of South Park is pretty sketchy, so I understand. I am always on guard and don’t stay in the area very long when I shoot there.
Recently spent a little time around the Duwamish River in South Park, Seattle. This day the river was really high due to runoff in the mountains. The barge looked like an ocean going type, although I’m no barge expert. There are a couple of more steps, in the image, that are usually visible even during high tide.
Note: I used an old, Vivitar wide angle lens on the barge photo.
Aug. 1955. Me fishing on the Duwamsh River.
I’ve been exploring the South Park area of Seattle on Sundays for 10+ years. It’s a unique mix of light industry and residential that hugs the Duwamish River on the East and the hills, that lead to White Center, on the West. It’s a gritty step back in time. Slowly most of the scrap metal businesses have been shut down, closed or the land sold. In time this area will probably look like many other gentrified neighborhoods, but it will be a slower transition here so it is fun to explore and document what is there now.
When I was four years old I actually lived in South Park for about a year before my parents moved. We lived very close to the river. I have a photo of myself at that age ‘fishing’ on the Duwamish River near our apartment. I think I have posted it, but if not I can do that. One of the few photos of me from my childhood ( see above -I found the image). For some reason I keep coming back to this area of Seattle.
After getting past a No Trespassing sign and fence I was able to get a closer look at this closed pedestrian pier and dock. In the background of one of the images you can see the West Seattle high-rise bridge. This bridge was a replacement for a drawbridge that was hit by a ship back in the 1980’s, I believe.
Rippling water wake of large barge. What appeared to me as abandoned piers. One of them was a pedestrian pier that is now barricaded. To access the abandoned piers I had to ‘overlook’ a No Trespassing sign :-). Trespassing is pretty common to get into abandoned places or ones of high risk. My next post will take a closer look at the abandoned pier in the “No Trespassing” Zone.
Two large barges being moved both up and down river by tugs. A lot of containerized freight is staged up river for transport to Alaska. I know of two large operations, one either side of the river, that specialize in collecting and forwarding freight to Alaska ( one of which I actually did a job interview for about 30 years ago-fortunately I didn’t get the job). It’s not unusual to see vehicles of all types perched on top of a stack of containers heading north. What I found fascinating is that these barges draw little water and leave hardly a noticeable wake in the path. A small speedboat, on the other hand, will create all sorts of noise and a wake that sends the ducks scurrying and bobbing about :-).
The image with the bridge is a northwestern view. The bridge is the West Seattle High Rise. The image with the most clouds is a southern view.
The Duwamish River is a working river as well as one used for transit out into Elliott Bay by fisherman and recreational use. The next posting will highlight some of those activities.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a spot on the east side Duwamish River that I didn’t know existed. Much of what I have posted, regarding the Duwamish River over the years, has been taken from the west side at various locations. The Port of Seattle owns this access point, adjacent to the new Federal Building above ( something else I had no idea existed as it is set quite a ways back from East Marginal Way).
This area, like many along the Duwamish River, used to be inhabited by indigenous peoples. Rich in history that is almost totally overlooked by Seattleites today. I know the signs are not readable in the photos, but if you can zoom in and maybe find a few keywords to Google, you might be able to dive deeper into the history of this area. The Duwamish River used to snake its way down to Elliott Bay, but in the past ( probably for reasons of commerce) the river’s curvy path was straightened out to what it is today.
The Duwamish River, which I find fascinating, is the first EPA Superfund Site in the US and is still a work in progress 47 years on. This says something about the scope of cleaning a river estuary. Although the area is much cleaner and less polluted today, it still has a way to go. Many of the heavy polluting businesses that were located along the river have since moved or closed down. I think dredging the river bottom is not a possibility as it would stir up much of the heavy metals, etc. Similarly, in Brooklyn, NYC, I have been following the efforts to clean up the Gowanus Canal, which was declared a superfund site a few years ago. This past Fall, a Portland, Oregon company was awarded the first contract to do a superficial dredging to remove debris that was sitting on the bottom of one small section of the canal, without disturbing the sediment. I was there the week this was being done. It was just a pilot project, but was fascinating to watch. A rep from the Portland company was on site to both watch over the pilot dredging, but to be available to answer questions from the public ( such as me, who pestered her for about 30 minutes, till it started to rain). The Portland company actually contracted with the company that dredged the Love Canal decades ago, as they had the expertise and equipment to perform this sensitive work. With the new administration coming in last January, all work on the Gowanus Canal is up in the air, even though monies were allocated to get the project going.
If interested, there is a lot of info online. If you dig back in my posts to around last November ( 11th and 13th) I think I posted a few photos of the initial dredging of the small section of the Gowanus Canal. I also did a couple of Facebook check-in type postings showing the barge and crane at work.
Will be posting more from this site on the Duwamish River over the next couple of weeks. My apologies for getting a bit sidetracked. There are similarities between the two sites that I find fascinating.