Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands


Missing Mountain

Missing Mountain

My mind is looking, not at this meadow, but back 37 years to when there was a large hill covered by trees here. As the ice age glaciers ground their way through our neighborhood, they brought with them all the sand and gravel from that grinding, and as they finally melted away, there were left huge piles of this debris called moraines.

The ice was over a mile thick, and the moraine that was deposited here was at least 300 feet from top to bottom. So why is the moraine missing? That, as the joke goes, is because since, in 1872, Great Britain didn’t get the islands in the arbitration of the “Pig War” boundary dispute with the United States, they took it away barge full by barge full because a Canadian company recently owned the gravel pit where this photo was taken. As an aside, I’m told by a friend in the business that our’s is some of the finest gravel in the Pacific Northwest, which doesn’t surprise me for nothing about San Juan Island is second rate!

About 35 years ago I had a friend working in Saudi Arabia for an oil company. Since the Saudis don’t celebrate Christmas, let alone have any Christmas trees, at this very spot I cut a small fir from the slope of what was then a large hill alongside the county road and shipped it to him.

All it takes to move a mountain is time and a bunch of equipment, in this case a large number of barge trips across Haro Strait to Victoria, BC.

Photo location: Turn Point Road opposite the entry to Shipyard Cove Marina, San Juan Island.


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