On Monday 4-29-13 at noon Zac will join renowned artist Buster Simpson for a lunchtime chat about their permanent works at the new Army Corps headquarters building on the east bank of the Duwamish River in Seattle. Simpson's piece Aerie, commissioned by the GSA, morphs as the viewer passes by, reflecting the Corps changing missions from national defense to protection of the environment. Both sculptures incorporate recycled and locally sourced materials, in line with the LEED platinum Oxbow building. At 12:30 Army Corps Colonel Bruce Estok will commission the Historic Duwamish River Mile 1 sculpture by placing a brass survey marker in its receptacle.
A small and dedicated team of volunteers from the Seattle District of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, led by ML/MG founder and creative director Zac Corum, has been busy since early October building the first historic mile marker of the pre-industrial Duwamish River. The sculptural river mile marker, which is composed of rubble from the Elwha dam, is spanned by a steel interpretive sign. The morphology of the base, a cross, reflects the mile marker symbol found on modern maps, but also represents the diverging and intersecting trajectories of the Duwamish and Elwha rivers. The marker is being placed at the northernmost estimate of the location of river mile 1, based on the 1875 USC&G survey "T sheet". In the center of the sculpture, at the computed location of mile marker 1 is a brass survey bench mark, commemorating the historic river location. The long axis of the sign is aligned with the center of old river channel. The marker is next to the highly innovative Corps of Engineers headquarters building (entitled "Oxbow" by the architects), just off of Diagonal Way and Highway 99 in south Seattle. In addition to the volunteer fabricators from the Corps, ML/MG is grateful to the many artists, photographers, and scientists who contributed to the research and design of the interpretive signage. Look for more news soon about the public commissioning of the historical mile marker, with acknowledgements of contributors and volunteers.
MLMG met up with painters Nathan DiPietro (Seattle) and Peter Malarkey (Seattle/Port Angeles), and videographer Elina Juopperi (Finland/France) for a backstage visit to both dam sites, the dam rubble disposal site, the recently revealed river bed under former Lake Aldwell, and the rapidly changing mouth of the river. Peter hosted us at his sublime residence/studio that overlooks the west side of the valley.
Great times and photos were had by all. Special thanks to Barb Maynes and Monica Norval at the NPS for securing access, and Jim Gross, Doug Noyes, and Mike Spiker at URS Inc. for leading the tour. Barnard Construction is doing a great job, and is well ahead of the NPS estimates for how long the work would take. They let us take photos from the deck overlooking the spillway, looking down over a hundred feet at the freshly notched dam crest. I was really surprised with how quickly the vegetation is coming back at Aldwell, and how far the coarse sediment wedge at Lake Mills has advanced toward Glines Canyon Dam. It will be a year or more at Glines to draw down the remaining reservoir. There is still about 15 feet to go at Aldwell but it is definitely free flowing. It was amazing to hear and see the river.
What surprised me the most were the sediment hoodoos left on top of old growth stumps in the old Lake Aldwell. These stumps were buried under decades of deposited sand, gravel, and organic material. The reservoir lowering allowed the river to migrate through its delta and erode the sediment around the stumps back down to the original valley floor, but leaving the material on top of some of the taller stumps intact. It's not every day a lake is suddenly lowered so I am sure this is an extremely rare and ephemeral phenomena, and the rains will certainly erase these soon.
Definitely lots of inspirational stuff going on out here. Try and take a walk down the old lake Aldwell delta if you are headed down highway 101 over the river. Just park on the east side of the bridge and follow the trails to the river. The river mouth is accessible off of Place Road. This is also a popular surf spot and where I managed the design of the levee raise associated with the dam removal preparation. It was showing lots of sings of change.
Who is behind MLMG? Zac Corum. Miles Lost / Miles Gained (MLMG) is a public art project by the Seattle based civil engineer and artist Zachary Corum that celebrates the restoration of the Elwha River through installation of large scale historic river mile markers along the lost rivers of Puget Sound. The artist has worked for 15 years as a civil engineer on ecosystem restoration projects throughout the Pacific Northwest and brings a unique understanding of the physical processes and human motivations responsible for the physical changes to river valleys to his work.
MLMG obtains permission from Clallam County to obtain dam debris from County landfill.
MLMG begins partnership with Seattle District Corps of Engineers and GSA to install first historic Duwamish River mile marker at new Oxbow Federal Building.
March 1, 2012 MLMG launches this site to the public.