Busking in the Park

by Dennis Peterson

Songsters Erica Swanson and Dennis Peterson braved stiff cool breezes to play ukuleles and sing under the gazebo at Centennial Park in Oroville. The players strummed merrily for nearly three fun hours with Nancy Peterson joining in the singing. All agreed it was great fun to play under the beautiful blue north Okanogan sky even if it was necessary to chase after the music in the wind. This may happen again soon – come on by if you see anyone with an ukulele!

Dennis and Erica Strumming in the Park

Dennis and Erica Strumming in the Park

Photo by Nancy Peterson

I have this old photo of Oroville, Washington on my computer and it has always been of interest because it shows Oroville from about the same viewing angle as where I live. There are some buildings and features that are well documented and some still exist, though changed with time. Yesterday I happened to be viewing this image along with a set of newer images and was suddenly dumbstruck by something I’d overlooked earlier. A house in the old photo is still there, and the angle of reference was remarkably similar to what I can see looking out my window. Clearly the person who took that photo was standing very near then to where I am today. Here is the older photo looking southeast toward Oroville’s old downtown.

Here is a more recent photo taken from the deck of our home.

If you compare the two images you’ll notice the home with the blue roof is also seen in the older photo. Notice too the coincidental relative location of the vertical rock face in the distance. That got me to wondering if I could approximate the place where the photographer, Gregg, was when his photo was captured.  To do this I pulled copies of the critical sections of the old and new photos and created some reference lines. I also added some identifying text to landmarks.

And I did the same with my newer photo. And to make it more interesting I removed the color and added sepia tones. Notice the remarkable similarity of the alignment of the far rock wall and the roof of the house.

What this tells me is that within a small margin of error, I was standing on the same line of sight as when Gregg took his photo. I could tell by other references that he was at a slightly higher elevation than I was. I thought I could refine it further using modern technology and get to within a few  tens of feet of the actual spot. And for that I used satellite photography from Google.

UPDATE: Because Orovilleans are a boundless resource of historical information I’ve learned that this house was also the second hospital built in the city, and that in the very early days of this little township a hospital was pretty much any place a doctor lived!

Here is a bird’s eye view of modern Oroville. My home at the bottom is in the yellow box. That is Juniper St above City Park. In the blue circle is the home identified above, and in the green box at the top is the rock face south of town a bit north of Cordell.

Then I created a line of sight line between 18th Ave and the reference house. I had placed a red dot in a circle at my house where my photo was taken and ensured the line of sight touched that and the top of the roof of the reference house where the reference line from the distant rock formation was. The result is, within margins of error, a line on which Gregg must have stood when he took his picture. I needed one more reference to find the exact spot.

It just happens that in Gregg’s photo the southwest corner of the Peerless building lines up with the northeast corner of the IOOF Hall. The IOOF Hall today is Eva’s Bakery. It amazingly has also been moved east from Main St and turned clockwise 90º but is otherwise still a useful reference. So back to Google’s satellite imagery and…

Now recalling the elevation of Gregg’s site is above my deck and the margin of error it is my bet that Gregg was standing northwest of my house (which wasn’t there until 1950) in what is now the alley between Juniper and Kay streets and what became 18th Ave and which happens to be upslope the exact amount to account for the elevation needed.

And that is how you spend the day keeping warm at 11ºF.

More About Glacial Erratics

by Dennis Peterson

07. February 2018 · Comments Off on More About Glacial Erratics · Categories: Geography, Geology, History, Ice Age

Two of my favorite Washington State erratics are not even in Washington – but they were. They’re now down in Oregon, south of Portland, and how they got there… Well, there’s a story I’d like to tell.

Perhaps the most exotic and unlikely erratic in the world got started on its journey a long time ago from a place in the dark emptiness between the stars. It is not only an erratic, it is an iron-nickel meteorite, and it is big. It is the largest such traveler in North America and is a member of the top-ten largest meteorites in the world. We can’t know where or when it fell to Earth as there is no tell-tale crater near it today, so we’ll pick up it’s journey 13,000 years ago when Lake Missoula was formed in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. That lake is going to need an introduction for this tale to make sense.

Thousands of years ago when climate change was far less shy and entirely apolitical, great ice sheets covered much of what would become Canada and several of the northern-most states of the US. This ice is thought to have been more than a mile thick in places, and was continually in motion. Through processes of expansion by way of precipitation and simply grinding across the surface, the ice sheets at times became dams for many age-old rivers. Those dams caused lakes to form behind them, and one such was Lake Missoula. It reached a depth of 2,000 feet and a capacity greater than most of the Great Lakes. And all that water was held back by a bit of ice.

The river that was blocked is the Clark Fork River that runs quietly through Montana and Idaho to Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho. That lake drains via the Pend Oreille River which wanders across Idaho, Canada, and Washington State where it meets the Columbia River. The river was dammed when the Cordilleran ice sheet cut off the river valley, and the result was Lake Missoula.

The battle of water and ice was finally won by the water. It reached a depth where it was able to lift and scour the glacial ice and the earth below it. A trickle quickly became a megatorrent and Lake Missoula was unleashed. The waters raced across Washington State at depths exceeding several hundred feet. And with it came huge ice bergs that broke free of the glacier and with them came massive boulders, some larger than houses. There are still ripples in the Scablands area of Washington that from a distance look exactly like ripples one would see on a beach or river bottom – but up close they are huge. Clearly the water raging across the area was very deep and very fast.

One of the great ice bergs that was swept away carried a house-size rock. The ice managed to survive the trip from the glacier, westward down the Columbia River Gorge to where Portland, OR is today. The water depth was about 300′ where the Williamette River is now. Here it turned south following flood waters that were filling the Wiliamette Valley as far as Eugene. It finally ended it’s voyage near McMinnville where the boulder came to rest in what is now Erratic Rock State Natural Park. Owing to vandalism it is today a fraction of it’s original size, but it is still very impressive. Particularly when you consider this was once at the bottom of the ocean in the southern hemisphere.

Photo by M.O. Stevens, Portland, Oregon ~ Erratic Rock State Natural Site

Photo by M.O. Stevens, Portland, Oregon ~ Erratic Rock State Natural Site

Geologically, the rock comes from Canada and is the largest glacial erratic rock in the Willamette Valley.[8][9] The rock is argillite believed to be 600 million years old and originally part of the sea-floor. It is also the only rock of its type outside of Canada. And what is very interesting is 600 million years ago that sea-floor was south of the equator!

The next traveler is very likely a record holder for distance traveled, even for erratics. From Wikipedia we learn the following:

The Willamette Meteorite, officially named Willamette,[3] is an iron-nickel meteorite discovered in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is the largest meteorite found in North America and the sixth largest in the world.[4][5] There was no impact crater at the discovery site; researchers believe the meteorite landed in what is now Canada or Montana, and was transported as a glacial erratic to the Willamette Valley during the Missoula Floods at the end of the last Ice Age (~13,000 years ago) ~ Wikipedia

Photo by Dante Alighieri ~ Willamette Meteorite at the American Museum of Natural History

Photo by Dante Alighieri ~ Willamette Meteorite at the American Museum of Natural History

This is how you make people feel welcome in the Okanogan. A warm inviting place to get in out of the weather, shake off the cold, have a great cup of coffee and a pastry, and some conversation. The Malott Country Store – not your typical convenience store and not that far off the main highway. Close enough, in fact, to make it a habit.

Malott Country Store

Malott Country Store in Malott, WA