Thursday, August 13, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 464

The Mary D. [Duncan] Hume
[photo:  Steven Astillero]

This week’s postcard features a photo by Steven Astillero and shows the Mary D. Hume a commercial steamer built at Gold Beach, Oregon, in 1881 by R. D. Hume who was a pioneer and early businessman in the area.  The card was distributed by Nature’s Photography, Medford, Oregon (

In 1886 R.D. Hume of Astoria, Oregon, moved his commercial salmon fishing, processing and shipping business to the mouth of Rogue River.  Following the sinking of Mr. Hume's small steamer "Varuna" he salvaged the steam engine and began plans to replace his lost freighter.  A 141 ft. (42.9 m) tall White Cedar tree was harvested 13 miles (20 km) north and floated downstream to what is today the Port of Gold Beach.  Naturally curved White Cedar roots were used as the ribs and Myrtlewood dowels were used to join the ribs to the keel.  Mr. Hume named the boat in honor of his wife, Mary Duncan Hume.  [Information from:  the a placard at the site]

This ship had a remarkable 97-year career as an active commercial working vessel, the longest active sea service for any commercial vessel on the Pacific Coast.  .  Originally she hauled goods from Oregon to San Francisco for 8 years.  Later in 1889 she was purchased by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company and used to haul baleen from Arctic waters.  From 1890 to 1892 she was used as a whaler and caught 37 whales.   In the early 1900s she received a new steam engine and was used as cannery tender in Alaska for the Northwest Fisheries Company.  After sinking in the Nushagak River she came to Seattle and began working as a tugboat for the American Tug Boat Company of Everett, Washington towing logs and barges on Puget Sound.   Another new engine was installed in 1939 and in 1954 a diesel engine was installed and the superstructure was altered.  The Crowley Maritime Corporation bought the Mary D. Hume in 1973 and she was still being used as a tugboat.  In 1977 she was retired and was returned to Gold Beach in 1978.  In all her years of service and through changes in ownership she retained her name, unique in maritime history.

Some effort was made to preserve the Mary D. Hume but a mechanical failure occurred and she slipped off into the mud at Gold Beach where it is today and insufficient funds have hampered the effort.  Despite the condition the wreck is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be seen berthed on the Rogue River at Gold Beach, Oregon.

We visited the site in 2018 and Bob took the photo below.  Looking closely it is possible to see that not only is part of of ship collapsing, grass and other vegetation is now growing on the boat.

The Mary D. Hume, Gold Beach, Oregon, 2018

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 463

Oregon Myrtle tree

This unused Northwest Artmall postcard has a photograph by Gerry Deadmond.  The tree is identified as Oregon Myrtle.  At the lower right corner of the card is an information blurb about the tree. 

A true myrtle tree, myrtus, is native to the Mediterranean region in southern Europe and North Africa.  The tree, umbellularia californica, pictured on the card is a large hardwood tree native to the Sierra foothills of California and the costal forests extending into Oregon.  Called a myrtle in Oregon it is known as California bay laurel, California laurel or California bay in California.  It has also been called pepperwood, spicebush, cinnamon bush, peppernut tree, headache tree, mountain laurel, and balm of heaven.  The leaves have a pungent smell similar to bay leaves but stronger.  Native Americans made poultices of the leaves to treat rheumatism and neuralgias.  A tea was made from the leaves and used to treat stomachaches, colds, and sore throats.  The leaves were also used to relieve headaches.   Today the leaves are not recommended for cooking as they contain a toxic mucous irritant.  One or two leaves can be placed in flour or cornmeal as an insecticide to keep mealworms away. 

The wood is used for bowls, gift items, spoons, gunstocks, trim, cabinetry, paneling, veneer, and the backs and sides of acoustic guitars.  During a visit to the Oregon coastline we stopped in at The Rogue River Myrtlewood shop in Gold Beach, and purchased a bowl.  The owner was kind enough to explain the process of making the bowl and took us on a short tour of his workshop in the back room of his store.  He had samples of fresh wood and leaves that he suggested we smell to test the strength of the aroma.  It is pungent enough to cause sneezing!  Products made of myrtle wood provide a small but significant source of income for small mills and crafters in southwest Oregon and California.  He also told us that the Oregon myrtle tree is very slow growing and has been over logged therefore the wood is becoming somewhat scarce.  He was not sure how much longer shops like his would be able to continue to produce handmade items.  

The Oregon Champion myrtle tree is about 88 ft tall and almost 5 ft in diameter making it significantly larger than a typical Oregon myrtle.  The tree has evergreen leaves and clusters of yellow flowers as well as yellow-green fruit.  It can be used as an ornamental planting.

Oregon Myrtlewood bowl

The warm color and the grain of the wood make it extremely attractive.  This bowl was handcrafted with the skill and love of an artisan for the wood.  It is so finely finished it feels like silk to the touch and is very easy to clean.

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 462

Aurland, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway, looking south, the agricultural and horticultural school

Dick Thompson had a cousin who owned a farm in this general area of Aurland, Norway.  This used postcard was pasted on the same page of his scrapbook with others from 1951 when he made a trip to Norway to visit his sister and other relatives.  The black & white Normann photograph shows the view looking south at the valley with the agricultural and horticultural school in the background.  Carl and Arne Normann, father and son, were among Norway’s most prolific producers of postcards in Norway.  From 1946 to 1990 Arne traveled all over Norway taking photos for postcards.  The project resulted in over 300,000 pictures of Norwegian scenes.  The identifying number is printed at the lower left:  12-8-35.

The school shown in the photo was the idea of Jens Lunde, a county agronomist, who in 1915 wrote and submitted a plan proposing the establishment of a private agricultural and horticultural school in Nordre Bergenhus a county that was divided and renamed in 1952 to become Sogn og Fjordane and Hordaland that have now this year, 2020, been re-merged and called Vestland.  The school, established in 1917, was designed to provide practical and theoretical training plus additional practical work on the land attached to the school.  The two-year program was open to young men and women age 18 and older and covered a variety of topics including but not limited to bookkeeping, surveying, chemistry, physics, plant science, forestry, and animal studies.  Today, at a little more than 100 years old, the school is still active with the training primarily in organic farming.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Old Sauk River, 2020

Information near trailhead

The Old Sauk River trail is one we have done a couple of times.  Most hikers want more of a challenge than this trail offers but it allowed us to get into the woods and avoid crowds.  It is an easy; short hike that is usually not crowded making social distancing much easier.  We took our bandana style masks again but used them only once.  We were the only people on the river walk.

There are two parking lots, one at each end of the river walk but only one lot has an outhouse.  This trip the only people we encountered were a mother with two children on the first section of the trail.  No dogs.  Part way along the trail splits and provides an option for the shorter accessible interpretive loop that follows an old railroad grade, the river trail, or a slightly longer trail through the woods.  The accessible route is supposed to be wheelchair friendly but there are places where it would be an effort to push one.  A battery powered wheelchair would work okay.  Parents with children in strollers could also manage the accessible trail.  We have always gone on the river walk that has the advantage of river viewpoints, and the pleasant sound of the water all along the way.  

Where the river view trail splits from the forest trail and the accessible route

One of the viewpoints along the river trail

The trail surface up to where it divides is crushed gravel the river walk and the forest path are packed dirt with needles a few rocks and roots as expected.  Other times we have gone trailhead to trailhead or from one end to the other and back, this time we opted to use the clock and went for about 1.5 hours before turning around.  Total distance for us was approximately 3 miles with a minor elevation gain of not more than 100 ft.  Bob tells me that this trail was once an Indian path along the river.  It is still sort of a path and needs “brushing” (brush removal or trimming) as the vegetation is crowding the narrow way.  There is stinging nettle in places.

Look at all those red huckleberries!  

Picking huckleberries amid the tall ferns

 Here's a good one


The bracken ferns were huge and dwarfed us in some places, thimbleberry that were also large and had leaves 6 to 8 inches across.   Tons of ripe red huckleberries, some blue ones too, and a few of the trailing blackberries were ripening but not quite ready yet. 

Bob is standing by a stump left from the logging days.  There is a springboard notch just under the branches of the new tree using the old stump as a nurse log.  Old time loggers made notches in the trunks, and placed boards to stand on while using a big long two man saw called a misery whip to cut down the tree.

Lots of mossy trees along the trail

Surprises and delights for the day included finding patches of Indian Pipe, two tiny voles, one dashed into the burrow and the other froze in place under some foliage, and a Douglas squirrel.  We also saw some wildflowers.  There were minimal bugs, mostly non-biting gnats that were pesky but didn’t require repellent.


 Stinging nettle

 We found several large patches of Indian Pipe

 Looking at the top of the Indian Pipe


 Foxglove too heavy with blossoms to stand up tall

Pearly everlasting

Look close and you might find a tiny vole hiding in the leaves . . .

Count for the day:  1 adult, 1 baby being carried, and one child, no dogs.  Two cars at the smaller lot, our car was the only car in the larger lot.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 461

Strandgaten, Bergen, Norway, 1916 fire

Today's postcards are a good argument for never using magnetic photo album pages and/or tape on postcards or photos. These remarkable, but in far less than perfect condition, photo postcards show the devastation from the 1916 fire in Bergen, Norway.  This first unused Eneret & M (Mittet) & Co. postcard is of Strandgaten and has the number 50 at the lower left corner on the reverse.

Torvet, Bergen, Norway, 1916 fire

The second card shows Torvet and has the number 55 on the reverse.  It seems to capture a feeling of woe with the rain, umbrellas, lingering smoke and people walking around. 

The card below shows Strandgaten from a different angle is number 51.  Dick Thompson’s scrapbook collection has a series of a dozen or so cards of the fire all in similar condition.  A few of the cards are shared this week.

Strandgaten, Bergen, Norway, fire 1916

There are have been at least 15 major fires in Bergen.  During the 10 hours of the fire on the 15th and 16th of January 1916, 380 buildings housing 388 shops, 242 workshops, 42 factories, 219 offices, 612 apartments, and 219 storage rooms burned down in the city center and 2700 people were displaced.  Also affected were 3 newspaper companies, 4 hotels, 6 insurance companies, and two schools. 

Wooden buildings along the waterfront area in Bergen, Norway ca 1930s or 1940s

Many of the buildings along the waterfront area in Bergen are wooden but as the pictures from 1916 show, many others were stone or brick.  The postcard above looks to have been taken probably in the 1930s or 1940s and does not have the publishing or distributing company named or an identifying number on the reverse.

 The 1916 fire started when a workman accidentally set fire to a ball of black oakum made of tarred fiber and used to seal joints in wooden vessels and deck planking on iron and steel ships.  It was an extremely windy day and when he tossed the lit piece of oakum out of the work shed instead of going into the sea as intended it was blown back to the shed where soon the entire structure was a blaze.  The wind spread the fire along Strandgaten, shown in the top card photo, and towards the Market Square and the wooden warehouse buildings that “burned like tinder.”  Soon it was evident that Strandgaten could not be saved and fire-fighting efforts moved to stop the fire at Torgallmenningen or the Market Commons area.  The worst of the fire was to the west; however, with help from the military the fire was stopped at the art museum.  The destroyed area was fenced off and ruins that posed a threat were later dynamited. 

 Markeveien, Bergen, Norway, 1916 fire

The fire burned upward along Markevein toward the Engen district.  This card has the number 52 at the lower left corner on the reverse.

 The burned out remains of the Holdts Hotel, Bergen, Norway, 1916 fire.

This card is identified as number 54 at the lower left corner on the reverse and shows people looking at the ruins of the fire.

Torgallmenningen (Market Commons), Bergen, Norway, 1916 fire

This card has the identifying number 53 at the lower left on the reverse.  Efforts were made to control and stop the fire here at Torgallmenningen.  Spraying water on the Stock Exchange Building and the Bank Building making it possible to rescue them and to stop the fire from spreading.  The entire area between Torgallmenningen and where the fire started on Murallmenningen, including the fire station that was built following the 1855 fire, was destroyed.  In one night the city center, with some buildings dating from the Middle Ages, was reduced to ashes. 

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Friday, July 17, 2020

Oxbow Loop, 2020

Trail sign at the start of the loop around the lake

Due to possible COVID-19 exposure concerns we have not been doing much hiking this year; however, since we wanted to get out we decided to start earlier to try and avoid most people.  Oxbow Loop on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River was only the second time we have been out in the forest this season.  Unlike our last adventure to Trout Lake, this hike had zero other people and was a no dog day.  We took our bandana-type face masks but didn’t need them since the trip was an easy to social distance and no risk day.  Oxbow Loop is a newer trail with crushed gravel surface, lots of nice second growth forest and some wild flowers.  There are two parking areas, a small one right where the loop trail begins, and a larger lot by the outhouse that is a short distance through the woods to the beginning of the loop trail.  Discover Pass required.

 Crushed gravel trail surface

Lots of tall trees, some with moss

Map of the loop trail at the trailhead

The area was logged about 100 years ago, therefore many of the existing trees are about that age.  Interesting nurse logs and stumps are found here and there along the way.  Lots of birds but no squirrels the day we were there.  

Large stump left from the logging days, now a nurse log with about 6 new trees growing on it

 Fun benches and log chairs found in a couple of places along the trail

Aside from the birds we didn’t see much in the way of wildlife unless you count the two banana slugs creeping along the edge of the trail.  Bugs? Oh yes, so if you are susceptible to bug bites you will want to use repellent.  My skin seems to be extra sensitive and I don’t like to use Deet products; however, I have found that some of the herbal bug repellents work almost as well at keeping the bugs away but they need more frequent applications.

View of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River from the trail

Close up to the river from the short spur trail

This would be a good hike for young children since the loop is relatively short, 2 miles, and mostly level with just one hill.  We took the short spur trail to the river that added approximately 1/8th of a mile.  The river was moderately high and flowing extremely fast.  It looked a bit dangerous even for a good swimmer.  If I were taking kids I would leave out the river walk section and go clockwise on the loop to let them go down the hill at the beginning of the hike making the end of the walk easier.  We went counterclockwise and that is fine for adults but I would not want to be carrying a tired child up the hill and back to the trailhead. 

Views of Oxbow Lake

Still lake water with reflections

There are peek-a-boo views of the river along the route and the trail goes around pretty Oxbow Lake with views of the lake from all sides.  The lake was formed when the river changed course and gets its name from its shape.  Birdsong and water music can be heard and on a warm day the shady trail was cool and comfortable.  Some of the flowers . . .



 Bleeding heart

 Fox glove  (digitalis)


Ocean spray

Aster family

Count for the day:  0 cars other than ours at the trailhead, 0 people, and 0 dogs

Thursday, July 16, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 460

Logo, Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo, 1909
[found on the reverse of the postcards]

Here are five postcards with night views of the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition grounds.  Frank H. Nowell was the official fair photographer.  The cards were published by the Portland Post Card Co. of Portland, Oregon and made in Germany.  These postcards were in the scrapbook collection of Dick Thompson.  Unfortunately Dick had trimmed the cards to fit the pages of his book but the pictures still provide a glimpse of what the buildings looked like all lit up at night. 

The fair grounds may have been one of the first places in the city to have outside lights at night.  Beginning in 1898 The Seattle Electric Company held the contract for the streetcar lines and controlled the electrical grid in the city.  Seattle City Light was formed in 1910.  

One mishap at the fair occurred on opening night during a concert featuring the noted Russian baritone, Albert Janpolski.  When the first song ended all the lights went out.  The audience waited 15 minutes until it was announced that the concert would be rescheduled for later in the week.  It was pouring rain outside and fair attendees faced a bottleneck at the turnstiles and then at the streetcar terminals.  The Seattle Electric Company had scheduled the cars to arrive at regular intervals but that could not accommodate the tens of thousands of people to leaving en masse.  The power blackout was the result of a grounded power wire that caused the current to flow through the soaked earth and effectively electrified the grass.  The power to all the buildings was shut off so the defective wire could be found.  Over 20,000 lights were used to illuminate and decorate the buildings on the fair grounds.  

Washington State Building, Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo, 1909

The Washington State Building was lavishly furnished and was used as a host building for various ceremonies.  There were no Washington State displays or exhibits within its walls, those were found in the Forestry Building and other places.  After the fair the building was used as the University of Washington Library until 1927 when it became the home of the Washington State Museum.  

Oregon State Building, Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo, 1909

David Chambers Lewis, a Portland, Oregon architect, designed the Oregon Building.  It resembled Monticello and featured paired columns.  This building housed exhibits during the fair but was demolished in 1917.

Agriculture Building, Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo, 1909

The Agriculture Building and the Manufacturers Buildings bracketed the Cascade Basin and were mirror images.  Another mishap happened on opening day when a 3 year girl dropped her rubber ball in the basin and fell into the water trying to retrieve it.  A man from Walla Walla jumped in and rescued her.  Today the basin is Frosh Pond on the University of Washington campus.

Manufacturers Building and Cascade Basin, Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo, 1909

U.S. Government Building, Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo, 1909

Even though the Government Building had exterior lights, this view shows the interior of the building illuminated but not the outside lights that were similar to the other buildings on the fair grounds. 

All these cards are unused, have the official logo and were numbered.

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