Thursday, January 23, 2014

What I got wrong with the history of the Deschutes Estuary

When I wrote up a longish history of the Deschutes River estuary, I summarized the late 1920s like this:
In the late 20s, Wilder and White and the Olmsted firm participated in a back and forth over the landscaping plan, with the state capitol committee in the middle. In one telling, the result was that all waterfront improvements (including Capitol Lake) were written out of the landscaping plan (Johnston, 91).

According to another Capitol Campus historian, Mark Epstein, Capitol Lake was retained in the 1920s landscaping plan, but in the form of Olmsted’s modest saltwater tidal pond rather than an aggressively dammed estuary (Epstein, 67).

Also, ten years after he first proposed it, damming the Deschutes apparently was not in the front of Carlyon’s mind. As Wilder, White and the Olmsted firm debated landscaping plans that could have included a lake, Carlyon wrote an essay about the vision and construction of the capitol group. Lacking from the essay is a single mention of a lake (Carylon, 1928).

Even though it was rejected in 1916 and was an afterthought in Carlyon’s mind by 1928, the lake project did not go away.
The late 1920s was an interesting time in the creation of Capitol Lake. The central part of the current campus was coming into form. And, the final push for the lake was about five or six years away from starting.

So, in the three versions I could find at the time, the lake was either totally gone from the plans, changed into a saltwater lagoon or just an afterthought.

But, I recently came across a piece in the Seattle Times that contradicts this. There was still some discussion in 1929 of a possible lake.

From April, 1929 in the Seattle Times about the need for plants for capitol landscaping:
It will be almost impossible to get too many plants, flowers and shrubs, for when the land strictly within the Capitol grounds is improved, there will remain the long stretch of shore land and overhanging cliff that some day will be included when the proposed fresh water lake is created by damming the waters of the Des Chutes River at the head of Budd Inlet.
 To me, this is a small corner of the lake and estuary history. The idea of the lake was already rejected in 1915. Tumwater wouldn't agree to damming the river's mouth and it wasn't until 1941 that Tumwater citizens changed their minds. And, it wasn't until the Little Hollywood shantytown took over underneath the capitol that Olympia residents seriously made a push for the lake.

But, still, I was wrong about 1929, so I thought I'd correct the record.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I dont' think it contradicts what you is just one of the layers you are talking about earlier in your explanation. Whoever wrote the article could have just been someone pushing for a lake in an estuary supported environment? At a time when Little Hollywood,i.e., Hooverville was at its peak - I bet a lot of people were pushing for something different. Thanks for the update.