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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Interesting Tidbit on Scenic's Geology

Was talking to a former habituate of Scenic the other day about his first visit up to the springs since the closure of 2001. He mentioned the day of the earthquake in 2001 (the Nisqually earthquake) and hoping that the trembler had not rearranged the plumbing up at Scenic like it had in 1949.

"What do you mean, like in 1949?" I asked him and he replied that the 1949 Seattle earthquake pretty well shook up the town of Skykomish and closed off the fissures of the original hot springs in the area and introducing new fissures that represent where the springs are today.

Well, thinking about this kind of make a lot of sense when reading the history of the original Scenic Hot Springs Hotel and my belief that the original hot springs where located further to the west closer to the Deception Creek valley (but before the ridge line that delineates that valley).

The biographies tell in pretty descriptive language of the 'steaming hot sulfurous waters bursting from beneath a gigantic granite boulder'. Nowhere in the present day Scenic area does such an event show itself . . . and especially not where the biographies and railway/hotel pipeline blueprints suggest! So what happened to those original springs? Why aren't they still there?

Hiking the wood-stave pipeline shown on the railway blueprints certainly shows the remnants of the pipeline going west . . . not east toward the present springs. One creek coming down the mountain in particular shows a water temperature just a scant degree above ambient when it should be much colder. Yet there is nothing even remotely suggestive of a hot springs still fulminating further up the steep slope than I have been able to climb so far.

What if the 1949 earthquake really did shut down the original hot springs only to have the hot springs re-emerge on a ridge across the Surprise Creek valley several miles to the east? It would answer a lot of historical questions.

However, there is the question of the perceived (and accepted) history of the land grant to Mr. Prosser as recompense for the new railway realignment right over the site of the Scenic Hot Springs Hotel. It has been commonly accepted that the 40 acres of land was granted to Mr. Prosser because of the springs thereon that had been formerly associated with the now-razed hotel . . . and that would make sense. So why those 40 acres if the springs were not there at that time? Or were they?

There is also the problem with the long-term geological history of the area. The Long Creek Fault Line (comparable to the San Andreas fault line in California . . . the western side is moving northward; or was up to 50 million years ago; the fault is locked now by the subduction that formed the Cascades) runs right between the two locations of interest . . . straight south through the Surprise Creek Valley. The geology on the east is totally disconnected from the geology on the west and it is difficult to imagine the plumbing rearrangement that would shut off a hot springs on one side and redirect the hot water flows to emerge on the other side of this ancient fault line.

So, the mystery continues. Where were the original Scenic Hot Springs?

Rick

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