The Greater Duwamish: Industry, Community and Conservation

My first photographs of Duwamish date back to 2008, although my interest in the area started earlier. At first the level of environmental destruction looked completely overwhelming, and I was primarily interested in industrial landscapes surrounding the river. Then one day, when I was standing on the marina under West Seattle Bridge, an otter emerged from the water and started hunting for fish. I thought it was remarkable that a river so polluted would support animal life. I started noticing other animals, such as fish and herons, and became aware of salmon habitat restoration. The history of surrounding communities too is inseparable from the river, and many neighborhoods still owe their livelihood to Duwamish. The longhouse of the Duwamish Tribe, long-time stewards of the river, is located on its western bank. I learned this and more through education and river tours offered by DRCC-TAG – Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. The photographs presented here span several years of exploration.

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West Marginal Way Southwest

West Marginal Way Southwest stretches along the west bank of the Duwamish from West Seattle Bridge in the north to First Avenue Bridge in the south. The street is heavily industrialized, with Lafarge and other plants occupying most of the riverside, but it is also home to the Duwamish Longhouse and Herring’s House Park at Terminal 107.

Oxbow

An oxbow is a place where a river makes a loop, and Duwamish River made a lot of loops before it was dredged and straightened. The part of Duwamish called Oxbow is one of those lovely natural curves. It now holds a number of Boeing buildings on the east bank and a large parking lot on the west, the two connected by a bridge.

Snow Day in South Park

The Seattle neighborhood of South Park lies on the west bank of the Duwamish River. South Park has a mix of industrial and residential places a short walk apart. My first photographic visit to South Park fell on an afternoon after a winter storm, when the yards, the houses, and the South Park bridge under construction were covered by a bright white layer of snow, soon to turn into slush.

Terminal 105

Terminal 105 is a Port of Seattle park hidden between industrial spaces south of West Seattle Bridge. Some of the notable features of the park are a fishing pier, actively used by the community; a small creek, restored as a salmon habitat; and of course, the ever-ominous view of Ashgrove Cement.

Terminal 107 & Kellogg Island

Terminal 107 is a park for observation, reflection and learning a few things about Seattle’s history, from the Duwamish Tribe to early European settlers. (The Duwamish Longhouse is across the street from Terminal 107 and is shown in my West Marginal Way South essay.) It is also a place to wander around at low tide and gaze at barges, factories, remains of an old pier, a carcass of a schooner, and Kellogg Island – the last place where the Duwamish River retains its natural course. Stay on gravel and away from the sticky mud.

Terminal 117

We are now standing on the west bank of the Duwamish. Around and behind us are Boeing South Park, Port of Seattle Terminal 117 and South Park Marina. On the east bank of the Duwamish, sits the Jorgensen Forge.

Duwamish River Cruise’12

Duwamish River. Ravaged, polluted, dug out and renamed into a waterway. Alive and supporting life. Being cleaned up through continuous efforts of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. In 2012, I took the Coalition’s boat tour and had the pleasure of photographing some of my favorite landscapes from the water, and learning the Native American and early European Seattleites’ lore surrounding the river.

Duwamish River Cruise’13

October 2013 brought another Haunted Halloween Boat Tour hosted by the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. Every opportunity to travel on these waters is nothing short of exciting. The shoreline had changed for the better; where there used to be the remains of Boeing’s Plant 2, there was restored vegetation and animal habitat. In place of a hill in front of Boeing’s 2-122 building – a lagoon for young salmon to spawn.