Nooksack Valley history photos now online at State Library

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 2, 2012 

More than 500 historic photos from Everson, Nooksack and surrounding communities are now viewable online more than a decade after they were gathered.

From 1995 to 1999, photos and papers from family collections were collected for the Whatcom Memories Photograph and Interview Project, a community effort sponsored by Lynden Pioneer Museum and Whatcom Museum. The materials are held by the two museums, with copies distributed to local libraries.

Now, thanks to a grant, the folks at Everson McBeath Community Library have digitized 504 photographs that are accessible online through the Washington State Library.

"It's been received very well," said Susan Johns, the library staffer who worked on the grant.

More photographs will be added to the online collection, and people who view the photos can submit additional helpful details, such as the year a photo was taken, Johns said.

The photos include ones from more than 40 county families, many of whom were pioneers and homesteaders in the area, as well as Nooksack River flood photos, images from a 1914 ascent of Mount Baker, early business district photos, and images from the cannery and dairy industries.

The grant is part of the Washington Rural Heritage project. Johns hopes to obtain another grant to digitize historical photos at other libraries in the county.

To see the photos, go to blogs.sos.wa.gov/library and search for "Nooksack Valley Heritage."

FACULTY RESEARCH NO SMALL MATTER

My Nov. 18 column about Douglas Nord, the former administrator at Western Washington University who agreed to pay $25,000 in a settlement about his improper off-campus travels, generated lots of comment. Many people agreed that Nord's behavior, and the university's apparent poor scrutiny of his travels, raised troubling questions.

I also received several comments from people who said my column inaccurately portrayed faculty members at Western as teachers first and foremost, with research a secondary concern. My offending paragraph was based on information in the settlement order between Nord and the state Executive Ethics Board. Based on information sent to me, and on a conversation with a professor I know, it's clear that I indeed gave the role of faculty research short shrift.

Research and other scholarly activities are part of what faculty members are paid to do, and they play an important role in performance reviews and promotions. My column about Nord was intended to focus on the loosey-goosey oversight of an administrator, not on faculty members who play by the rules while they teach and engage in research.

BIG BIRD LEAVES SCHOLARLY TRACKS

You might recall that fossil tracks of a Diatryma - a 6-foot-tall flightless bird that stalked the region tens of millions of years ago - were discovered after a 2009 landslide at Racehorse Creek, northeast of Deming. Fossils of 18 giant bird tracks were found preserved on blocks of sandstone, and a large slab with a three-toed footprint that measures 10 inches by 11 inches is now on display in the Environmental Studies building at Western Washington University.

Now the discovery has received due scholarly attention with an article, "Giant Eocene Bird Footprints From Northwest Washington, USA," in "Palaeontology," a journal published by The Palaeontological Association, in England.

The local authors are George Mustoe, who did most of the writing and scientific work; Keith Kemplin, who discovered the big track now on display at Western; and Dave Tucker, who helped with the writing and with retrieval of the big track.

By the way, the new, technical name for the fossil tracks is "Rivavapes giganteus," which, I've been told, roughly translates from the Greek as "track of giant river bird."

To read the article, go to http://nwgeology.wordpress.com/new-fieldtrips-and-other-news.

Reach DEAN KAHN at dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2291.

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