Thursday, August 25, 2016
|Section of Lake Forest Park from Google Earth|
Beach Drive, LFP Civic Club, Shore Drive, Sheridan Beach... there's a good chance that properties in these neighborhoods used to be underwater - literally.
One hundred years ago this week, on August 25, 1916, the Montlake Cut connecting Lake Washington and Lake Union was opened and Lake Washington soon began to drop, by an eventual total of 8.8 feet to the level of Lake Union. The work was part of the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, which had begun five years earlier. As the water level in Lake Washington fell, and that in Salmon Bay to the west rose to match the level of Lake Union, the changes had a dramatic effect throughout King County.
At the south end of Lake Washington, the Black River -- which had been the lake's outlet into the Duwamish River valley -- disappeared, which helped reduce flooding in the valley. Meanwhile, construction of the Ballard Locks on the other end of the ship canal led to the raising of water levels in Salmon Bay, home of Fishermen's Terminal, turning it from a saltwater inlet into a freshwater bay.
Communities around Lake Washington gained waterfront, but most of it was originally wet goo. On the Seattle side of the lake, where Montlake Boulevard ran, a few extra feet of land extended from the roadway, and much if it is now used as open space. On the other side of the lake, a sandy beach was exposed in Juanita Bay, which became a popular resort and later a park. In Bellevue, the American Pacific Whaling Fleet chose Meydenbauer Bay as its freshwater home port once the canal provided a connection to Puget Sound. And in Renton, acres of exposed shorefront would years later become home to one of Boeing's manufacturing plants, as well as an airport.