Mud Flood evidence in the City of Port Townsend, WA

KorbenDallas

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Recalling that Elmer H. Fisher found enough time in 1889 to distinguish himself in Port Townsend as well, I decided to go for a nice, 100 mile drive to visit this wonderful city. Western Washington State was kind enough to grant some mighty fine sunny weather.

Port Townsend is a pretty small place with some remarkable history. To save time, I will allow myself to use the below Wikipedia data.

"The bay was originally named "Port Townshend" by Captain George Vancouver in 1792. The official European-American settlement of the city of the same name took place on April 24, 1851. Port Townsend is also called the "City of Dreams" because of the early speculation that the city would be the largest harbor on the west coast of the United States. By the late 19th century, Port Townsend was a well-known seaport, very active and banking on the future. Many homes and buildings were built during that time, with most of the architecture ornate Victorian.

Railroads were built to reach more areas in the 1870-1890s and Port Townsend was to be the northwest extension of the rail lines. Its port was large and frequented by overseas vessels, so shipping of goods and timber from the area was a major part of the economy. Many of the buildings were built on the speculation that Port Townsend would become a booming shipping port and major city. By the late 1890s, the boom was over. Without the railroad to spur economic growth, the town shrank and investors looked elsewhere to make a good return." - Wikipedia

At no given time since its creation did Port Townsend population exceeded 10,000 people. Specifically in 1880 it was 917 people, and in 1890 it was 4,558.

I have to say, that the place is nice, sweet, and beautiful. Granted it was a sunny day, but the architecture of the historic waterfront district was breathtaking. I suppose it could not be any other way, considering that Mr. Fisher contributed to its architectural identity.

The Mud Flood

Approaching the historic district, I couldn't help it but notice, that there was some obvious groundwork performed along the main waterfront road (Water Street - Google Maps). This visible dirt appears to be some sort of sediment, and looks almost vertical. I was unable to find any documented evidence of the groundwork performed in the past. While the totality of the below offered circumstances, suggests that there had to be some sort of human intervention, I am ready to accept that there might be no documented poof of any. This dirt wall goes behind a good chunk of the historic district, with the line clearly visible in Google Maps.

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_6.pngMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_5.png
Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_1.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_2.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_3.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_4.JPG
The telltale sign of a possible Mud Flood was present from the very beginning. Just about every single building along the street had bottom level windows well below the street level. Some of the buildings had this type of windows in the front, and some in the rear. Honestly, they were all over, if you choose to see them. Frankly speaking, a few of the windows were decently hidden, subliminally adding to the theory of a recent Mud Flood. I really liked this window in the picture below. Even the building owners did not know what to do with it. So they just boarded it up. Trust me, the window is there.

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In general, it is fairly obvious, that the city is covered with 6-10 feet of mud. In some places it is more, and I will demonstrate it in a few of the below pictures. One of the most obvious buildings matching this criteria is the Jefferson Museum of Art and History. If you are ever in Port Townsend, do yourself a favor and stop by. The admission is only $6, and they have some real neat things inside, to include a former jail. This building is additionally interesting due to consisting of two separate buildings connected together. Majority of the adjoined buildings is still associated with the official government business. The building on the left was built after the Mud Flood, and the one on the right before. Needless to say, the building on the left has all the ground level windows above the street level.

The one on the right is dated. .MDCCCXCI. = 1891, but I doubt that this is an accurate date of construction.

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_10.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_11.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_12.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_13.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_14.JPG

Just about every 19th century building displays the below features. Sometimes you have to walk around the building to find these "sunken" attributes of the Mud Flood.

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_20.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_21.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_22.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_23.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_24.JPG
Additionally, we have some humongous doors (giants?). And, as you can see, there are things beyond any sort of explanation, like this huge doorway, accommodating a regular size door, and three small windows. Watch your step too :unsure:

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_30.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_31.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_32.JPG
And as I mentioned earlier, here is the building, partially buried under 20-25 feet of dirt on one side. It looks like it was built into the hill, but I have my doubts it was the intended design. I wish I went down and took an upward picture, but it is what it is. IMHO, the building was either partially dug out from the sediment, or the slide stopped in a very bizarre manner.

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_40.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_41.JPG

I also suspect there are some underground passages similar to the Seattle and Co. ones, for we have distinctive skylights built into the sidewalk in front of this very same building.

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_42.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_43.JPG
Basically, this is it. Below are some additional photos I took while in Port Townsend.

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_51.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_52.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_53.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_54.JPG
Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_55.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_56.JPGMud_Flood_Port_Townsend_50.JPG

Hastings Building
And of course, the creation of our infamous Elmer H. Fisher, the Hastings Building, tops everything with its greatness. "Construction on Elmer H. Fisher’s design for the Hastings Building began in 1889 and was completed in 1890. The morning Leader observed in November 1889 that the Hastings Building, still under construction, was “conceded by all to be the most elegant building in the city." - Brief History.

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_57.JPG
Here is what this Hastings Building looked like around 1890s.

Mud_Flood_Port_Townsend_Hastings_Building.jpg
Somehow it reminded me of the other two buildings I've seen before: Yesler-Leary Building (Seattle), and Phelan Building (San Francisco). Both of these buildings were destroyed by fire: Yesler-Leary Building - 1889, and Jones Building - 1906. I guess, Hastings Building better watch out.

1. Yesler-Leary. 2. Phelan.
Yesler_Leary_building_Seattle.jpgPhelan_Building_San_Francisco.jpg

Should probably mention Rees-Winans Block in Walla Walla, WA. What a transformation... may be i should visit Walla Walla.

Jones_Building_Walla_Walla.jpgrees-winans-demo-1-6.jpg
Summary: Port Townsend displays the same properties inherent to the other Mud Flood affected cities. Whatever explanations for the above (if any), were provided by the officials, I do not know. Pretty sure those would include some kind of cultural layer variations.

Different place poses the same question. What happened here, and why do we not remember it?
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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What do you think about the ruined stone wall built with polygonal masonry under the brickwork ? (pictures 30-32)
That detail escaped me.

This entire wall looked strange to me with how it was continued with bricks over the stones. And the stone edge was not even horizontally even. The general appearance was like this building is older than the others.

There is one additional similar building out there which looked pretty old. The front was renovated, but the rear portion was remarkable block masonry. Unfortunately, it was covered with vines to the point where nothing was definite on the photo.
 

ion.brad

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The firsts photos, those with "some sort of sediment" reminded me a part of Ialomita county from Romania, along the Ialomita river, which can be seen in this link: Cetatea dacică de la Piscul Crăsani. But Romania is not near the ocean! Still, in the Baragan plane, there is like a wave of earth which stopped! It is not like the river disolved the bank (on one side only), it is like the earth have sinked on thousands of square kilometers!
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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The firsts photos, those with "some sort of sediment" reminded me a part of Ialomita county from Romania, along the Ialomita river, which can be seen in this link: Cetatea dacică de la Piscul Crăsani. But Romania is not near the ocean! Still, in the Baragan plane, there is like a wave of earth which stopped! It is not like the river disolved the bank (on one side only), it is like the earth have sinked on thousands of square kilometers!
The occurrence is bizarre due to its existence in the entire world. It appears it is much harder to find a place, where we do not have any architectural mud flood evidence.
 

humanoidlord

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The occurrence is bizarre due to its existence in the entire world. It appears it is much harder to find a place, where we do not have any architectural mud flood evidence.
small towns like mine are an possible exception, though if you know where to look you can find polygonal masonry and at least one "impossible" building
 
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KorbenDallas

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small towns like mine are an possible exception, though if you know where to look you can find polygonal masonry and at least one "impossible" building
Obviously the age of the structures still plays a role. It's much harder to notice the evidence of the Mud Flood without older buildings.
 

humanoidlord

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15-20 years before the end of it, I think.
update: i found a building with a buried first floor! it used to be the citys prison, now its just a generic office building though i heard someone was trying to turn it into a museum
but yeah its has basement windows in its entire perimeter
 
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KorbenDallas

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From what I have seen in Seattle over the weekend, where an older building was getting turned into a contemporary style one through renovations, looks can be deceiving.

Additionally it starts to appear that multiple mental institutions are being housed in some pretty old buildings. Nothing bizarre there up to the point when you comprehend the ratio.
 

whitewave

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That Port Townsend looks to be in a depression with a mountainous area right next to it so it's entirely possible that heavy rains could have caused half of their muddy mountain to slide down on them. Problem as I see it is that the neighboring "mountain" looks pretty rocky, not dirt or clay-like.

We've had a few mudslides just this year which got me to thinking. What causes mudslides? Would had to have been some serious clear cutting followed by serious rain to bring about that level of destruction. Does anyone know how big logging teams were back in the 1800's? How long it took to cut down a tree?
 
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KorbenDallas

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The issue with mudslides is that they are not limited to localities. Every major 19 century city has buried houses. It’s mire of a mud flood.

Specifically Port Townsend related, it was not simply mud but rather a sediment.

That mud slide flood would have to be global, and not limited to one city. Like worldwide it was, I think.
 

Ice Nine

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I live in Washington State and this morning I was thinking about Port Townsend in regards to "what's the deal" because I always thought it was weird how they dug out so much dirt to build their business district and all the houses are up on top of the pile of dirt. I don't have an answer, but it always looks so weird. Either the city was covered in mud and then dug out and then houses were built, possibly over buried original houses? or people just came in and removed all that dirt to build the business district and said ok that's enough dirt gone, let's now climb up this dirt cliff and build some houses.
Also interesting here is a picture of the Osceola Mud flow, an exposed portion at the Green River. does this look familiar to anybody that has been to Port Townsend..well yeah.


osceola-mudflow-white-river-greenwater-washington.jpg

'
 
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KorbenDallas

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Where on Green river is this place?

Also going back to Port Townsend, this door still fascinates me. What other evidence of the former ground level would one need. The size of the previous door before the opening was readjusted is also telling.

The top of the original building was probably destroyed and they had to build up using brick.

That’s like 2 totally different epochs right there.

7CFFC9D6-1C4D-4221-9E1C-9316C5061C43.jpeg
 

Ice Nine

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I don't know where that picture on the Green River is from, probably near Black Diamond, cliffs like that are all along the Green River and Carbon River, next time we go hunting for petrified wood on the Carbon I'll take a picture of exposed mud flow, actually we call it a Lahar, the mud flow that is. Anyway the mud has to be at least 50 feet or more. Looks just like the pictures from the link below.

This will give us all some perspective, a Lahar can be up to 100 feet thick.
Lahar info

Anyway Port Townsend, yeah what's up with all the huge doors in old buildings, it doesn't make any sense to me unless people were a lot bigger at some point. Which I think they were, not everybody, but a certain segment of beings on this planet
 

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