The Trees of October in Wedgwood

Wedgwood in northeast Seattle enjoys the autumn colors of leaves in October and November.  Street trees called Flame Ash will turn a deep red along 35th Ave NE.

Street trees in Wedgwood’s business district on 35th Ave NE.

The Flame Ash street trees which line 35th Ave NE were planted between 1965 to 1972, and are maintained by Urban Forestry of Seattle’s Department of Transportation.

Flame Ash is a “cultivar” meaning that the trees were grown to have the wanted characteristics and that all the trees in the group would look the same.   Related varieties are Raywood and Marshall Seedless, which were planted on NE 125th Street from Lake City westward to Roosevelt Way NE.

Find a map of Seattle street trees on the City site here.

Wedgwood’s row of Flame Ash trees begin in the heart of the business district at NE 84th Street and continue northward to NE 137th Street where 35th Ave NE merges with Lake City Way NE.  As the rainy season begins, the riot of color of Wedgwood’s trees gives us a warm burst of enthusiasm and enjoyment of the season.

Flame Ash trees along 35th Ave NE in the Wedgwood neighborhood of northeast Seattle.

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Street Trees on 35th Ave NE

Flame Ash trees in Autumn 2014

In autumn the arterial 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood is vibrant with the colors of the flame ash trees.

The neighborhoods of Wedgwood and Meadowbrook in northeast Seattle enjoy a beautiful drive along the main arterial, 35th Ave NE, under the canopy of Flame Ash trees.  These street trees were planted between 1965 to 1972 as part of Urban Forestry of the Seattle Department of Transportation, which does all street-related work.

Perhaps Wedgwood and Meadowbrook are among the most tree-oriented neighborhoods of Seattle.  The Seattle Audubon Society whose office is at 8050 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood, advocates for Seattle’s tree canopy and the distribution of trees throughout the City of Seattle.

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Seattle During and After the Civil War

During the American Civil War of 1861-1865 the struggling outpost of Seattle in Washington Territory anxiously watched and waited as to how the war’s outcome would affect not only national issues but how it would affect federal influence in the Pacific Northwest.  In the years just prior to outbreak of the war, Seattle had tried to get the federal government to help with expansion of roads and railroads, but the start of the war put everything on hold.

The first territorial governor of Washington, Isaac I. Stevens, was appointed in 1853.  On the way out to Washington Territory one of Stevens’ duties was to lead a survey crew, scouting a route for a transcontinental railroad.  Stevens continued to promote this effort during his four years as governor and four more years as territorial representative in Congress.  As a career army officer, Stevens joined the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.  He was killed at the Battle of Chantilly, September 1862 in Virginia.

Washington Territory did not send troops to the Civil War but in addition to Governor Stevens, residents had known some other men who became participants in the war. Captain George Pickett had been at Fort Bellingham until he decided to resign from the U.S. Army and serve with the Confederacy.  Others who had been with him, such as Lt. Robert Hugh Davis, nephew of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, also left the Pacific Northwest and joined the Confederacy.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)

Ulysses S. Grant who had been posted at Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory, became one of the most famous generals of the Union during the Civil War.  He received the surrender of General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy on April 9, 1865 in Virginia.

Grant served as President of the United States 1869-1877.  The promotion of railroads was a major issue during his administration.  Prior to his service as president, the first complete transcontinental railroad went through to California in 1869.  In the 1870s residents of the Pacific Northwest continued to advocate for a route to their area.

This blog article will tell of Seattle’s continual desire for a railroad route to the city, and how Civil War veterans were influential in railroad development in Seattle.

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One Hundred Years in the Wedgwood Business District

The year 2022 marks one hundred years since the first store opened in what is now defined as the Wedgwood neighborhood, between NE 75th to 95th Streets in northeast Seattle.

The north-south arterial 35th Ave NE is the central core of Wedgwood with its main business district at the intersection of NE 85th Street.

This blog article will give a capsule history of business in Wedgwood and a preview of the changes that are coming as the commercial district at NE 85th Street faces redevelopment.

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The Spiger Family in Ravenna

The life story of Henry Spiger tells of the western migration of Americans after the Civil War, and the attraction to the growth opportunities in Seattle in the 1880s.

Henry Spiger, born before the Civil War, gradually migrated from his birthplace in Ohio out to Seattle.  Henry engaged in maritime activities in Seattle, became a landowner, a real estate developer and then followed the rise of the automobile to open a gas station in 1918 after World War One.

Spiger gas station in 1958

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Meadowbrook’s Garden

A hedge of zinnia flowers along the roadside attracts our eye and tells us that something special is happening at 10700 30th Ave NE.  Adjacent to the tennis courts at Nathan Hale High School, on land which belongs to Seattle Parks Department, gardeners meet to work together and share skills at the Meadowbrook Community Garden and Orchard.

The Meadowbrook Garden has a zinnia border along 30th Ave NE. Shown here are berry bushes and the tennis courts in the background. Photo by Valarie.

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An Elm Tree in Seattle History

The American Elm is a species of tree native to the northeastern United States, and elms can also thrive in the temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest.  Elms can grow to seventy feet high, with a wide-spreading canopy of branches which makes the tree beloved of the shade it provides.

Leaves of the American Elm tree

The majesty of the American Elm’s height and broad canopy may be the reason why a row of elms were planted in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in about the year 1700 alongside the town commons, a central gathering place.

On July 3, 1775, General George Washington came to Cambridge Common to address the assembled volunteers of the first American Revolutionary Army.  It is very likely that General Washington stood in the shade of the elm trees at Cambridge Common that day.

Nearly 250 years later we still have four American Elm trees in Seattle which are George Washington Elms because they are descended from one of the original trees at Cambridge Common.

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A Civil War Confederate in Seattle: John Scurry

The events of the American Civil War, 1861-1865, occurred far, far away in the eastern USA but during those years residents of Seattle certainly were aware of the conflict.

In the decades after the Civil War, veterans tended to migrate westward and many came to Seattle.  Their influence on Seattle is still being felt today.

Headstone of Captain Hoyt at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Queen Anne Hill. Seattle is rich with the history of Civil War veterans.

There is no exact pattern of what states these Civil War veterans came from, or what kinds of occupations they held in their years in Seattle after the war.  Some veterans, like Captain John Marshall Hoyt of Wisconsin’s Iron Brigade, Union Army, did not arrive in Seattle until late in their lives, following adult children out to Seattle.

Civil War veterans in Seattle held all kinds of different jobs, some ordinary and some more prominent in their activities.  As we trace the veterans we can see how they lived and how they left a heritage throughout Seattle and King County.

The majority of the Civil War veterans who came to Seattle, like Captain Hoyt, had fought with the Union Army, but there were some former Confederates who came to Seattle, too.  This blog article is about a former Confederate soldier who made a new life in Seattle beginning in 1870.

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A Civil War Veteran in Fall City: Augustus Marshall

Fall City is about 25 miles east of Seattle.

Americans have always been a people on-the-move.  Every year numbers of Americans relocate for reasons of access to jobs, education or simply for a change of lifestyle to explore a different region and climate.

From the earliest years of the USA there was westward migration to find farmland and resources such as timber.  In this blog post we will trace the migration of a Civil War veteran who gradually moved across the USA until he came to the Pacific Northwest.  Augustus Marshall came to live in Fall City, Washington Territory in about 1887.  Washington finally became a state in 1889.

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A Civil War Veteran in Seattle: H.C. Henry

During the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865, one of the pivotal battles was at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, over three days: July 1, 2, and 3, 1863.  This titanic confrontation between Confederate troops commanded by Robert E. Lee, and the U.S. government troops of General George G. Meade, took place at a crossroads town at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley.

Battle map, Day 3 at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Gettysburg is only eighty miles north of Washington, D.C.  General Lee had thought to bring his Confederate troops in a circular swoop down to invade the Federal capital, but the battle at Gettysburg put a historic stop to the plan.

The events of Gettysburg may or may not have marked a turning point in the Civil War, which would continue on for two more years, but Gettysburg is remembered as a significant battle for several reasons.  A very large number of troops, about 170,000 total, engaged in the combat which was the largest battle ever fought on North American soil.  After three days of bloody struggle, survivors were forever marked by their participation.

The events of the Civil War occurred far, far away from what was then the tiny village of Seattle in Washington Territory, but in decades to follow, Civil War veterans moved westward and some became influential citizens of Seattle.  This blog article will tell of H.C. Henry, a man who fought at Gettysburg and later became a significant contributor to his adopted city of Seattle.

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The Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel at Northgate

The Thornton Creek watershed in northeast Seattle.

Thornton Creek, with two main branches north and south, flows in a southeasterly direction through north Seattle to the creek’s outlet at NE 93rd Street (Matthews Beach) on Lake Washington. The North Branch originates in Shoreline, and the South Branch comes from the Northgate area.  Many smaller tributaries join into Thornton Creek along the way.

The creek system may have been named for John Thornton, a very early resident of Washington Territory who lived in the Port Townsend area.  He purchased land in King County, which may have just been an investment, since he never lived in the Seattle area.

The two major branches of Thornton Creek have a convergence point called The Confluence along 35th Ave NE at NE 107th Street, just east of Nathan Hale High School.  Meadowbrook Pond which has been created there at The Convergence, successfully slows the flow of water, controls flooding and filters sediment and pollutants out of the water.

Another water-quality filtration site is along the South Branch of Thornton Creek at Northgate. This article will tell how the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel was created for the South Branch of the creek in 2004.

Looking north at the Water Quality Channel at Northgate, we see commercial buildings and apartments on the perimeter of the channel. Photo of Wikimedia, courtesy of Joe Mabel.

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Dorothy’s Thornton Creek Adventure

The Thornton Creek watershed extends eighteen miles through Shoreline and northeast Seattle, with its outlet into Lake Washington at about NE 93rd Street.  The creek has two main branches, North and South, with many tributaries.  Although he never lived there, the creek system might have been named for John Thornton who was an early settler in Washington Territory.

Meadowbrook Pond was created for holding and filtering water.

Just as it is today at Meadowbrook Pond at about NE 107th Street just east of 35th Ave NE, there is a convergence point of the two branches of the creek, in an area called The Confluence.

In the 1920s and 1930s when northeast Seattle was still very rural, there were fewer roads and developments to impede the flow of the creek.  Downstream of The Confluence, southeast of NE 105th Street there would have been a much bigger flow of water in those days, especially in wintertime after heavy rains.

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