White Death, Moving Down the Mountains

It’s easier to view the results of someone else’s research than to do it oneself. Yet, time and again I find I am literally “caught up” by the joy of the chase. The treasure I seek is more intangible than gold or silver, but it proves to me to be just as valuable.

Take the recent book talk at Elliott Bay Book Company. Author Gary Krist, who has written in several genres, was there on Tuesday, February 27th, to discuss his newest book, “The White Cascade”. This is his latest, and certainly a most fascinating read. This account of the March 1, 1910 Wellington Avalanche was first recounted by Washington author Ruby El Hult, who also wrote “The Untamed Olympics,” and “Lost Mines and Treasures of the Pacific Northwest.” Her book, “Northwest Disasters,”, published in 1960, covered the Wellington Avalanche and the Bitterroot Mountain Fires of 1910, both of which took many lives.It was good to learn from author Krist that Ruby is still living, and has moved back to Washington State after a lengthy sojourn in California. I had reason to correspond with her back in the early 1980s regarding another work of hers, “Guns of the Lewis and Clark Expedition,” as another local bookman was interested in that topic and didn’t know how to contact her. The key that ties this to Queen Anne? Our Mount Pleasant Cemetery has numerous graves of victims of that 1910 avalanche.

At Krist’s talk, I met descendants from both survivors and victims of the avalanche, one of whom gave me the name of another victim who is buried here, but of whose grave we were totally unaware. The June 2007 cemetery tour revolved around this specific tragedy and shared more than a few stories of the courage and miraculous survival of some of those involved.

I was brought to consider all this as the snow began to hit central Puget Sound, and the loss of the skier who took the wrong trail this week, losing his life in an avalanche. It is a beautiful land in which we live, but it can be unforgiving to the careless.

Further Reading