WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT
Built On Faith
COURTESY OF SEATTLE MUNICIPAL ARCHIVE
The historical view looks north into Fremont on June 21, 1911, from a new grade on Westlake Avenue set to ultimately serve the steel bascule bridge shown in the "now" view. The timber trestle bridge under construction in the historical scene was, for four years, a temporary structure. The contemporary view was purposefully photographed with a wider-angle lens and also some yards south of the historical scene in order to include the line of cars waiting for what is one of the busiest bascule bridges in the world.
THIS 1911 RECORD of the construction on Fremont's first "high bridge" looks north from the Queen Anne side. The old grade is below to the right a grade picked in 1890 when the first trolley line was run to Fremont along the shore of Lake Union.
Two years earlier, Isaac Burlingame, whose lumber mill at Fremont was then new, built the first dam between the lake and its outlet, Ross Creek, named for a pioneer family that settled beside it. Burlingame's dam controlled the level of the lake and so secured his millpond behind it. Twice the dam broke. First in 1903, when the lake lowered about three feet, and in 1914 when it suddenly dropped nearly 10 feet, stranding houseboats and washing out the center supports of this trestle.
On June 23, two days after this photograph was snapped, the supporters of the Lake Washington Ship Canal learned from the "Other Washington" that their nearly 15-year struggle was about over. Construction was soon to begin. Many of the improvements along the route of the canal, including the building of this high bridge and the new grades approaching it, were done in faith that the canal would ultimately be dug.
This high wooden trestle was meant to be temporary. In the late summer of 1915 it was scrapped and the building of the steel bascule bridge begun. Traffic was then shunted to the temporary trestle that crossed the lake between Westlake Avenue and Stone Way. It, too, was a temporary structure built in 1911 in preparation for the canal and razed in 1917 after the opening of the bascule.
Paul Dorpat's and Genevieve McCoy's award-winning illustrated Washington state history, "Building Washington," is available for $50 from Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145; 206-547-7678.
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