Thursday, October 24, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 113

Big Four Mountain Inn & cabins, 1931

The Big Four Mountain Inn located on the Mountain Loop Highway was built in 1921 and burned to the ground in 1949.  It is now a picnic area.  

Since we had visited Big Four Mountain just a couple of weeks ago I thought it might be fun to share this postcard photo of the mountain and the inn taken by John A. Juleen (1874-1935) in 1931.  Juleen established a commercial photography studio in Everett, Washington in 1908.  Following his death his wife continued to operate the studio until 1954.  He took thousands of photos of Everett businesses and industry, portraits, and numerous views in the Snohomish area.  In the 1930s he published an extensive collection of postcards.  Juleen used a Kodak Cirkut panorama camera and was one of the first photographers to take aerial pictures of Everett and Snohomish County.  The Cirkut camera was designed as a rotating camera, patented by William J. Johnston in 1904 and first manufactured by Rochester Panoramic Camera Company in 1905.  The model number indicated the maximum width of the film, as an example, the model No. 16 took 18 feet of film corresponding to the width of the panorama.  Today the Everett public library has several of his photographs but only a few examples of the postcard collection.  The card above was reproduced by Smith-Western Inc. of Portland, Oregon and is available at the Verlot Ranger Station and visitor center.    

Besides the main inn there were cabins seen in the foreground at the lower left side of the card.   Big Four Mountain Inn was one of a few such resorts, one at Mt. Baker that burned, one at Ohanapecosh, demolished in 1967, another at Longmire, where the main inn burned in 1926.  Lodges still exist at Paradise and Sunrise on Mount Rainier. 

Big Four Mountain was a lavish resort with transport via a branch railroad that ran from Hartford near Lake Stevens to Monte Crisco.  This rail line was primarily used to transport timber for the logging industry but also provided passenger service for the settlements, lumber camps, mines and eventually to the resort.  The rail line was popular with tourists because it allowed access to mountain scenery.   The inn and cabins cost the developers, Wyatt and Bethel Rucker, $150,000 to build.  All the facilities had hot and cold running water; there was a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, and an artificial lake.  Buses or “gas cars” were used to bring guests to the inn over the rail line.  The resort had many visitors including some celebrities who signed their names on the lobby walls. 

When the fire broke out in the main building on 7 September 1949 the caretaker, Fay “40” Watts managed to avert a greater disaster by keeping the fire from spreading to the resort’s gas pump and tank.  The three story 53-room wooden inn was described as burning like kindling.  The inn and the smaller annex could not be saved.  The fire ended Big Four resort and within a few years the Forest Service required the owners to remove the remaining improvements leaving only the fireplace and some sidewalks. 

The fireplace remains from the Big Four Mountain Inn

This second card above shows a map of the Mountain Loop Highway and the various hiking sites.

For more about Big Four Mountain Inn, see:

For more about J.A. Juleen the photographer and/or the Cirkut camera, see:

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