The reader will probably notice that this work is not a detailed written account of the many changes that occurred over the years to an area that is and was called Snoqualmie Pass, nor is it intended to be. What the author has endeavored to do is provide a photographic history of the east and west approaches to Snoqualmie Pass, including the Summit and the ski areas either at or adjacent to the summit. These photographs will cover a span of about forty years, from 1910 to 1950. This includes a visual history of the time between 1909 and 1915 when the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Puget Sound Railroad’s mainline ran over the Summit. The depot and other buildings were designated as Laconia. Because the grades were steep and the snow totals were some of the highest ever recorded at that location, a tunnel was dug between Rockdale on the west and Hyak on the east. This important improvement made the run over the top much more feasible in terms of time and money. About the time the tunnel was completed, the new cross-state Sunset Highway was opened to motorists. Many of these vintage photographs will attest to the fact that the road was anything but a highway.
The railroad and Sunset Highway over the Summit provided many very scenic views, which attracted some of the best photographers from around the region. Most of the photographs were printed on postcard stock and sold at numerous locations across the state. It is these real photo postcards and an occasional vintage snapshot that have been used to record the many changes and provide the reader or historian a useful tool in interpreting the history of the area.
To better understand how this book came about, I will present a few pertinent facts. First, it should be pointed out that the author’s father built a rustic cabin just west of Snoqualmie Pass. The year was 1934. My father always referred to this cabin as a ski lodge, as he was just learning to ski and was a good student of the sport. A few years later, dad married my mom, and the two pursued skiing together. In 1940 dad organized the Ski Patrol at Snoqualmie Pass. After I was born in 1943, I spent many hours and days exploring the area around our cabin and listening to stories about the days when the Chicago Milwaukie and Puget Sound Railroad tracks went over the top of Snoqualmie Pass, and the early days of skiing at the various ski areas at the Summit and the Milwaukie Ski Bowl near Hyak. It should also be mentioned that all these stories of days gone by, really helped pique my interest in history.
Now I will fast-forward to approximately fifty years ago when my interest in history started to take shape. I had joined the W.B.C.A (Washington Bottle Collectors Association) in 1967 and started hunting for and collecting old, hand-blown bottles. (My hobby of bottle collecting would continue for the next forty years.) It was perhaps 1968 when I became acquainted with fellow W. B. C. A. member John Cooper. The acquaintance turned into a fifty-year friendship with the two of us enjoying our mutual love of history and searching for old glass containers at various ghost towns, logging camps, and homesteads, etc.
About twenty-five years ago I moved from Seattle to the small eastern Washington wheat town of Ritzville, when I bought a house that had been my great grandparent’s retirement home. The house had been sitting vacant for 30 years and needed a lot of work. Several of my friends offered to help me with the move and one of the first to volunteer was my old friend John Cooper. It is also worth noting that all three volunteers were long-time members of the W.B.C.A. Not long after we moved in I received an envelope from John, which contained a number of vintage real photo postcards (RPPC) depicting early street scenes of Ritzville. These wonderful cards appealed to my love of collecting, history, and old photographs. Before long I was also searching for old RPPC postcards.
Several years ago, while working on another book project, I remembered John and his amazing postcard collection and called him to see if he might have some postcard scenes that I could include in this book. Much to my delight, John showed up at my door with several three-ring binders full of vintage postcards. Instantly recognizing the value of these historic photographs, I proceeded to scan nearly all of them. Because I used only a few cards for the project I was then working on, I kept thinking that these wonderful old postcard scenes needed to be made available to the public in some type of publication, hence the idea of this book began to take shape. For the last year, I have endeavored to assemble as many of these cards from John’s collection, as well as from my collection and a few other sources, into a photographic history of Snoqualmie Pass.
It is with my sincerest gratitude and appreciation that I say thank you to John Cooper who, in every sense of the word, helped make this book possible. Others who submitted old postcards or vintage photos include, Robert Duffin, Craig Magnuson, and Leland Rosenlund.
MORE ABOUT JOHN COOPER
Perhaps some readers may be wanting to know more about one of the premier postcard collectors of the northwest. Recently, the author phoned his old friend with a list of questions regarding how he had initially gotten into collecting postcards and a number of other related questions. Here is what John had to say.
“Postcard collecting began when fellow bottle-digger, Kent Renshaw, gave up bottle digging and turned to postcards. At bottle shows and sales, Kent not only brought old bottles to sell but also boxes of postcards, neatly sorted by subject matter, etc. Probably more out of curiosity than interest, I started looking through the cards. Within a few months, Kent had me attending the local postcard collectors club meetings, where dealers set up thousands of cards for sale. Before long, I joined the Pacific Northwest Postcard Club. They met during the fall,
winter, and spring months, but took summers off. This was for traveling to other postcard shows across the country and Canada….even England.
I also became a frequent visitor to several postcard shops in Seattle that featured thousands of postcards sorted by subject. Many old postcards were also found at club meetings where dealers set up their displays. There are also large postcard shows in the Seattle and Portland area, with dealers from other states with huge stocks of old postcards for sale. After eBay became popular a number of years ago, it became a major source of old postcards.
Postcards are divided into several categories and sub-categories. One of these categories is the real photo postcard. Because I have a great many RPPC postcards in my collection, you might think that this is all I collected. This is not the case. I have albums of older views of Western Washington that predate 1910. For example, Lowman & Hanford and Puget Sound News Companies produced and published a wide variety of these older cards. By the mid-1920s J. Boyd Ellis and others started publishing high-quality real photo postcards. Since I have studied Washington and Idaho history, these early cards really caught my attention!
While Ellis real photo cards are one of my favorites, it goes far beyond an interest, to the point that Ellis postcards have become an obsession and my collecting of these cards has gotten out of control. It is not uncommon to find two or more cards with the same number, so it is nearly impossible to determine exactly how many cards Ellis actually published. I estimate that the total number may exceed 6000, dating from about 1927 up to the mid-1950s when they switched to color photos. We call these cards “chromes.” As I mentioned earlier, Ellis postcards are certainly one of my favorites, but my all-time favorite category is of the Irish people at work and play. As you know, my ancestry is predominantly Irish.
In regard to the number of postcards in my collection, I am reluctant to actually count them. I have far too many for that task, however, I would estimate that my collection would probably exceed 16,000 cards. Of this number about 5,600 are Ellis RPPC cards, about 5,500 views of Ireland. In addition, I have a number of albums of Washington and North Idaho views, plus Cherokee natives, of which I am 1/8th. I also collect Northwest Native views. Some of my prize Native American views were taken by early northwest photographer brothers, Edward and Asahel Curtis.
Perhaps your readers may wonder just how I got started collecting things. When I was about ten years of age, I lived along old Highway 10 near Wallace, Idaho. As I was walking to town or school, I would notice matchbook covers that had been thrown from passing automobiles. I started picking them up and by age thirteen I had sacks of them. Sadly, I left them behind when I left Wallace. A year later I was clipping articles out of newspapers and magazines about my favorite baseball players and putting them into albums. My collecting went dormant until I was about thirty-five years old when I started collecting presidential biographies, Northwest biographies, and local history books at used book stores. One day I picked up a small booklet about digging antique bottles. About that same time, I started salmon fishing with a good friend and we would often launch our boat at the site of an old, burned-out sawmill. I started finding old bottles on the beach and I was hooked. I still manage to pick up one or two old bottles each year and have them displayed in my home. I am very aware that old postcards do not display nearly as nice as a 100 or 200-year-old bottle but I continue to add many postcards to my collection each year. At 83 years of age, I just hope that I don’t discover any new hobbies!”
After struggling for many months searching for a suitable title, I finally realized that the messages on the back of many of the old cards contained the answer. Many of the hand-written messages were headed with these words, Greetings From….. This would be the perfect title for my new project and ultimately the book you are now reading.
It should be noted again that the target dates of this work cover the years between 1909 and 1950. Automobile travel was just becoming popular after the completion of the Sunset Highway over Snoqualmie Pass in 1915, although rail service over the Summit started in 1910. Many travelers at that time would often send a postcard or two home to family or friends. Not only are these vintage postcards highly collectible today, but these wonderful postcard images are literally snapshots of history and the theme for this book.