Thursday, August 28, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 157

 Aerial view, Grand Coulee Dam, prior to 1978

 Aerial view, Grand Coulee Dam, ca 1983

The two postcards shown above are aerial views of Grand Coulee Dam located in eastern Washington State.  Coulee Dam is one of those places like Mount Rushmore (last week’s postcard) that is a “want to see” for many people.  It is the largest electric power producing facility in the United States.  The dam currently has three hydroelectric power plants but was originally designed and constructed with two.  The third plant was completed 1974-1978 to increase energy production.  

Grand Coulee is an ancient river bed once thought to have been carved out by retreating glaciers but later discovered to have been the result of massive floods from Lake Missoula.  As early as 1892 proposals were being made to build a dam across the Columbia River near Grand Coulee to irrigate eastern Washington for farming.  Concerns about the size of the man made lake this would create and lack of funding contributed to the dam not being built at that time.  Several other similar proposals were made and finally in 1933 work commenced on a low dam to provide power and irrigation.  The design was modified to a high dam (550 feet or 168 meters) in 1934 and completed in 1942.  

The 151-mile reservoir lake created by the dam is named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was the President of the United States who authorized and presided over the completion of the dam.  Creation of the huge lake meant that over 3,000 people living in the area had to be relocated and many trees removed.  Huge pumps lift the water into the reservoir.  Hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile land have been cultivated in eastern Washington because of the dam. 

The top postcard photograph was taken prior to the completion of the Third Powerhouse.  I am not sure how the photographer managed to achieve such a dramatic reddish color to the landscape but it is very beautiful in a stark way.  Both cards were distributed by Smith-Western Co. of Tacoma, Washington.  The second card was issued in 1983 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Columbia Basin Project and the Dedication of the Grand Coulee Third Powerplant.  There were two lakes created by the dam, FDR and the smaller Banks Lake both shown in the photograph from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 

I have visited Grand Coulee a couple of times and include some pictures below taken in 1985. Both of the postcards show the dam in full or almost full flood while this picture below has only a small amount of water flowing over the spillway. 

Grand Coulee Dam, June 1985

FDR Lake

Bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooking the lake

In 1952 the U.S. Postal Service issued a Grand Coulee Dam commemorative stamp and since I also like stamps as well as postcards I looked to see if it was possible to find one.  The answer was yes, and here it is below --

Grand Coulee also has a Visitor Center containing many historical photos, geological samples and dam models.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 156

The housecleaning project we are in the midst of netted a few forgotten postcards including this one from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.  Paul Niemann took the photograph and the Rushmore Photos & Gifts, Inc published it.

This massive granite mountainside sculpture is one of the best-known American symbols and is a popular destination for travelers in the United States with over 2 million visitors a year.  Represented are four former Presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.  The heads are 60 feet tall and took from 1927 to 1939 to complete.  Originally the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had wanted each figure to be depicted from head to waist but he died in March 1941 and although his son, Lincoln Borglum, who had helped with the project took over the remaining construction, lack of funding forced an end in October of that year.

Doanne Robinson, a South Dakota historian, conceived the idea of carving likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region as early as 1923 in order to promote tourism.  Borglum agreed to take on the project but rejected the site selected by Robinson, the Needles, because the granite there was a poor quality and there was opposition from Native American groups.  Mount Rushmore had better quality granite and was facing southeast for maximum sun exposure.  Robinson wanted western heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Red Cloud but Borglum wanted a more national focus therefore chose the presidents instead. 

The four chosen presidents were selected because Borglum felt they best represented preservation of the Republic and expanding the territory.   Plaster models of the monument are on display in the sculptor’s studio and show the hoped for head to waist design.  Trivia--the project cost almost 1 million dollars, was notable for its size, and there were no fatalities during the blasting and carving process.

Avenue of the flags

Views of Mount Rushmore from near the visitor center

In September 2000 we visited Mount Rushmore and took a few pictures.  There is a nice visitor center and several viewing areas.  Very near to the parking area is a rocky hillside that on that particular day was a grazing area to several mountain goats.  We could not believe that they were so close to the cars and people but they seemed not to mind and calmly continued to eat what greenery was available.

There is a 0.5 mile hiking trail that offers different views of Mount Rushmore.  It is mostly a boardwalk and labeled as an easy family friendly hike. 

The mountain has had several different names and was originally known as Six Grandfathers by the Lakota Sioux.  After a series of military campaigns (1876-1878) the United States took control of the area.  That claim is still disputed on the basis of a 1868 treaty. It was also variously called Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain and Keystone Cliffs by settlers coming into the area.  The mountain was officially renamed for Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Skookum Flats

After the Naches Peak Loop mosquito hike Bob decided to try and find a place without so many bugs hence a return to Skookum Flats near White River, in part of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.   The day was warm, as almost all the days have been this summer, but the trail was in a deep forest with plenty of shade making it comfortable.  And best of all—no bugs or so few we didn’t notice them.  Not one nasty mosquito bite by the end of the day.

We did not expect to find many wildflowers but were pleasantly surprised to find a few really special plants after all.  One of the most startling things was the color of the river.  Now I think I know why it is called White River.  During the spring the water is clear, blue, normal colored but in summer it changes to a white gray because instead of snow run off it is now fed almost entirely from melting glaciers and bringing with the water ground rocks, sand, pumice, dirt and silt.

The trees are beautiful, some huge, a mostly conifer forest comprised of cedar, hemlock and fir but also some deciduous trees like maple and alder. 

Here are a few of the flowers we saw . . .

Indian Pipe

We saw Indian Pipe last year and I thought it was such a strange interesting plant.  It is part of the Heath family and likes to grow in shady forests.  Quite often we have found this plant growing in bunches.  So if we discovered one clump like this one above it was likely another clump would be nearby.

Rattlesnake Plantain

Rattlesnake Plantain is an orchid with very tiny green-white flowers.  Once we noticed this plant we looked about to see if there were others and there were.  I had not seen it in bloom before. 

Western Coralroot

Another first, this Western Coralroot looks a lot like the Spotted Coralroot we have come across before but it does not have the little red and white spots on the flowers.  It is another belonging to the Orchid family.

Bull Thistle

Bull Thistles are weeds but the flowers are so pretty and showy I couldn’t resist adding it to the list. 

We did not expect to find this Penstemon growing at the lower elevation but here it was.  Part of the Figwort family there are several different kinds of Penstemon.


One of the few Bunchberry plants we saw this one had already set its bright red berries.

There was one place along the trail where these brilliant scarlet mushrooms (or toadstools) were growing.  So far I have not found an exact match so I don’t really know what they are but since they are red they are probably not edible and choice.  They are tiny and rather cute though.

This was a 4.5 mile hike round trip with a 300 foot elevation gain.  The trail is mostly dirt with one rocky section mid-way.  We saw a handful of other hikers and one mountain biker who was traveling with a couple of dogs.  We usually hear more birds and only saw one chipmunk scamper across the trail. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 155

Hellbrunn Palace, ca 1916

Looking from the Palace toward the Pavilion

 In the Pavilion facing the Palace. The table and chairs have trick fountains.

We spent almost two weeks in Salzburg, Austria and took some day trips to notable sites such as Hellbrunn Palace with its trick water fountains.  The Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus von Hohenems named it for the clear spring that supplied the water.  He had lived in Italy and seen similar places, had enough money so had the Palace and gardens built in 1615-1619. Hellbrunn was used as an entertainment venue during the summer.  An interesting trivia fact, since the Archbishop returned to Salzburg in the evening the palace was only used during the day and there are no bedrooms in Hellbrunn.

The inside of the palace has a self-guided tour with an audio headset device but a tour of the extensive gardens with all the waterworks requires a tour guide.  We did both.   The garden tour was fun and we had ample warning therefore got minimally wet when the guide turned on the trick fountains.  It seemed she was more interested in our ability to keep cameras dry rather than to keep us dry but it was raining part of the time hence a little more water was not a big deal.  As can be seen in one of the photos above the water spouts up from behind the seats and also in the middle of the seat thoroughly drenching the occupants.  All the mechanical devices in the garden were water powered including the fantastic village scene shown below where the people moved when it was turned on.

 Village with tiny people

When the switch was turned on the little people moved, danced and worked

 A little stream ran through the gardens with small grottoes here and there that housed moving figures like the potter below.

Larger grottoes big enough to hold a group of people had other displays inside.  We soon became wary and wise enough to look for the tiny brass nozzles hidden in the pavement and ran to avoid getting too wet when the water was turned on. 

 There were statues of animals, Mythological gods, dwarves and people as symbols in stone from power to foolishness all through the gardens.  The gardens were meant to delight the senses. Some of the figures were water spouts like the goat below.

The inside of Neptune’s grotto was fanciful and included shells and other adornments but had a watery exit lane.

A “golden hat” or crown rides on a fountain of water going up and down symbolizing the ever-changing political climate. 

There are several large ponds filled with fish and decorated with statues and we took a leisurely stroll before entering the palace itself.  I don’t remember if there were signs forbidding the use of cameras but the audio device had to be held so using a camera was not an option, instead I purchased a small booklet with a few pictures in it of the gardens and the inside of the palace.  The interior was divided into several different rooms, one had been painted with Chinese designs very popular for that time period and also extremely costly, a ballroom had street scenes and people painted on the walls and even fake windows had been painted on the walls.  

The Prince-Archbishop collected rare animals and fish so there is a section with paintings depicting some of the more memorable curiosities from his collection such as the horse with two extra legs and the giant sturgeons that swam in the outdoor pools.  The collecting of oddities was also popular among the wealthy aristocrats of this time.

 The palace and grounds are vast and I am not sure these photos will adequately demonstrate the size but here below is the front entrance.   The second picture is looking out from the front toward the roadway.

Here is a “Where’s Waldo” picture—we are here, can you find us?

It was a happy coincidence to find the card at a shop in Salzburg and be able to compare Hellbrunn today with the photo on the card from the early 1900s.  The small building seen in the top postcard on the hillside just to the left of the Palace is called the Monatsschloessl and according to legend was built in one month.  It is said that Markus Sittikus had the hunting lodge built in 1615 to impress the Archduke Maximilian with his own guest quarters when he visited.  Today it houses the Salzburg Museum of Ethnic Studies.  The postcard was mailed in November of 1916 and has one of the Emperor series stamps showing Franz Joseph that was issued in 1908 and used until the end of 1916. 

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