Colony Saw Mill, approximately 1875
The old town on west side of Whatcom Creek estuary, possibly late 1850s
The old town on west side of Whatcom Creek estuary has built up by 1885
By 1892, the estuary is completely urban. The mill is in the center behind the trees.
The Whatcom Creek estuary has certainly seen a number of transformations. I recently walked down to the mouth of the creek along the creek side trail to take a look at the old mill site. It’s a nice walk from my office as I am only a half block from the creek and walk across the creek every day. The weather had been rainy so the creek was flowing very high. More than enough flow to run the saws in the old mill.
Great heron at the old mill site
Upper falls, a nice feature to have in your downtown
View up the estuary from the Holly Street Bridge
There is very little evidence left of the mill and the site is now part of a city park. Over the past view years significant restoration has taken place along the banks of the stream. The site was initially valued by First Nation people as great fishing spot. Salmon still swim up the falls and its a great spot to watch for jumping fish in the fall. When the mill began operation, it was a lonely outpost of industrial development surrounded by a landscape covered with forest and natural resources. Now the reverse is true, the site is now a small natural area surrounded by an urban landscape. The change to a more natural stream estuary may reflect a change in values, but it also represents the shifting of the value of the resource. Natural areas in a city setting are a rare commodity and thus more valuable, and water powered saw mills and water transport are no longer as valuable as they once were due to electrical power and the presence of rail and roads.