The creek, the culvert | Letter

Cascade Creek has, like most creeks, small beginnings. It’s an ignominious little tumbler as it scoots over, around, under and through the rocks, logs, sticks, eddies, falls and stillwaters. Suddenly, it’s a respectable creek in all her natural glory.

Olga has a long, proud tradition of utilizing her senior water rights, given to Olga by Robert Moran, to insure her citizens a constant, steady supply of clean drinking water. Rosario also diverts some of Cascade Creek’s water, using rights even senior to Olga’s, to drive the machinery at the DC power plant. Despite the takings of water rights, the creek is usually quite robust and free-flowing.

The introduction to the subject of the culvert should only come after a bit of history is first told. One sets the scene, so to speak, for the other. To wit: when John Bowman located a Pelton Overshot Wheel sawmill driving a large saw with water from the creek, fortunes began to look up around Olga. Sawed board lumber quickly replaced hewn logs for those able to afford them, and work grew up around the sawmill fairly quickly. The creek was quirky, though, and often had too little waterpower to drive the Pelton wheel as it should. They began to look around, and soon joined forces with Andrew Newhall at Cascade Bay.

Construction of a flume, damming Cascade Lake with an outlet to the flume, and directed the falling water onto the Pelton overshot wheel proved a success, and Newhall Sawmill was in business. The community grew, had a post office, mail route and school, built boats and was a thriving part of Orcas until Newhall sold to Moran.

Thence – Rosario. But it all started with Cascade Creek, and it’s a darn shame to see her now, choked and constrained by a culvert that somehow just doesn’t seem to do the job. I’ll leave that up to the road crew engineers, and sympathize with their plight as they try to fit the right-sized culvert where it will allow the creek the passage it needs. Frankly, if I were the creek right now, I’d be embarrassed. My trees are falling hither and yon, I’m not sure which bank I should be in today, and I wonder when I’ll reach Buck Bay?

Cascade Creek’s illustrious history should afford it sufficient prominence that care will be taken to insure the entire creek reaches Buck Bay, and not be sent to meander around behind some culvert.

Tom Welch