Thursday, September 5, 2019
The Old Whatcom City Hall is one of three locations of the Whatcom Museum. Around 1900, Whatcom was one of four towns that merged into the Bellingham of today. The museum switches around exhibits so what was seen on this day may not be what would be seen in the past or future.
The old city hall was built before modern accessibility building codes. Thirty steep steps from the Prospect Street sidewalk led up to the main first floor entrance. Visitors with accessibility needs can use a basement entrance on the backside of the building. Contact the museum for basement entrance instructions.
On the first floor, an exhibit displays pieces from local artists. The above sculpture, about two feet tall, is an eye catcher.
The exhibits on the second floor covered the history of timber, fishing, shipping and railroad industries in the area.
A large colorized photo showed three men working on chopping down an old growth tree by hand. The stump is so large that the workers must first chop foot steps out of the tree so they have a place to stand while they systematically remove several cubic yards of tree trunk chop by chop. One estimate suggests it took three days to cut down a tree like this. That would not include the time it takes to strip the tree of its branches, work necessary to pull the tree out of the forest.
The scale of the tree and the amount of hard labor is staggering.
Museum dioramas are often beautifully crafted, rich in detail and historically accurate. These dioramas are no different with one exception. Each diorama had a cute Easter egg, something that didn’t really belong but does belong. A gift from the artist.
Sasquatch stands at the treeline, watching the logs being hauled off. Sasquatches aren’t real. Or are they?
Another diorama depicts logs being unloaded from trucks and dumped into a river. The river carries the logs downstream to a lumber mill where the logs will be processed and loaded on ships or trains for transport to market.
The Easter egg in this case is a shark swimming in the river. Sharks don’t swim in freshwater rivers.
A large format panorama of a lumber mill operation hung on the wall. The panorama consisted of four individual pictures that were taken in such a way that there was no discernible overlap between the pictures. Slight differences in exposure on each image gives away the line between the pictures.
The pictures in the panorama were large enough and the detail great enough that it was worthwhile studying the scene. There was so much detail that the individual people were interesting. Slowly, this realization came upon us. Many of the people were showing up in more than one picture. Some people showed up in all four pictures.
First picture on right.
Second picture right to left.
Third picture right to left.
Left picture. Four out of four. This caused a smile. The photographer must have been in on the prank.
Ships were a major part of the transportation picture. They also fit into the fish industry. A number of intricate scale model ships were on display with descriptions on how each contributed to the overall history of industry in the area.
The third floor exhibit was a large collection of mounted birds. Placards next to the displays, like the one above, identified the bird within the display.
The Barred Owl was special as I had seen one in the wild the previous week and wasn’t sure which of the many owls it was.
Having seen a number of live wild raven’s in the area, it was nice to get up close for a look. Raven’s are smart enough to avoid close contact with people.
The museum provided a nice afternoon of entertainment. Glad I went.
Hope to see you on the road ahead.