Stumps of the Northwest: History, Old and New

The stump house i i

hide captionThe stump house sits in the parking lot of the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum in Arlington, Wash. Eighteen feet across and 20 feet high, the stump house has been at this spot since 1935, serving as everything from a storage shed to a stage.

Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum
The stump house

The stump house sits in the parking lot of the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum in Arlington, Wash. Eighteen feet across and 20 feet high, the stump house has been at this spot since 1935, serving as everything from a storage shed to a stage.

Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum
Drive-through stump i i

hide captionAt a nearby rest area along Interstate 5 is a Western Washington Red Cedar stump big enough to drive through. These days, though, the stump is a walk-through attraction that's had its share of vandalism and decay.

Emma Schwartzman
Drive-through stump

At a nearby rest area along Interstate 5 is a Western Washington Red Cedar stump big enough to drive through. These days, though, the stump is a walk-through attraction that's had its share of vandalism and decay.

Emma Schwartzman

Enormous stumps in the Pacific Northwest tell the tale of vanished old-growth forests and a logging industry once enriched by giant trees. Member station KUOW's Harriet Baskas visits some old stumps put to new and creative uses.

Helen Starr, 92, the daughter of a lumberman, volunteers at the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum in Arlington, Wash. "I remember when my dad would take me hiking in the woods. He would say, 'Now, those trees could make so many houses,'" she says.

Arlington, 40 miles north of Seattle, was once a major lumbering center. "People don't realize that there were trees like that that to begin with," Starr says.

Those old-growth trees were often hundreds of feet tall, with gnarled bases that presented a challenge to early loggers armed with only hand saws and axes, says Pacific Northwest historian Robert Ficken. Once the loggers managed to cut them down, the giant logs were hauled away. But the giant stumps were left behind to rot.

If you hike, you'll come across some in the woods, but in Arlington two huge stumps are community souvenirs: a stump house in front of the museum and a stump big enough to drive through at an interstate rest area nearby.

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