Simple Yet Sacred

An Avalanche Tragedy Memorial And Its Story Quietly Beckon

small mounded rock memorial with a grassy, round patio ringed with a low wall of basalt
Due to a taller forest nearby since this rocky memorial's construction eighty-some years ago, today's site has more of a partially shaded, secluded feel. The mossy stones give the impression of a mysterious, Neolithic site. (Photo by author)
A pen and ink drawing of silhouette of person standing next to very large arrangement of vertically placed columns of basalt surrounded by a round rock wall at its base
This early illustration of the memorial, possibly drawn up by Noble Hoggson Jr., depicts not only an open, alpine background but a much larger scaled centerpiece than what we see today. Judging by the figure in the drawing, it appears that Hoggson intended the centerpiece to be about ten feet tall. Note the encapsulating base wall of rock that was never actually built. (Image courtesy of Western Front Historical Collection, Special Collections, Western Libraries Heritage Resources, Western Washington University)
a pencil drawing of a different, taller rock memorial using smaller pillar basalt with a person standing to one side
This puzzling memorial concept, drawn by Dudley Pratt on September 31, 1940, could have been penciled out during his construction of the centerpiece that fall. The drawing depicts a much taller concept using smaller basalt than Hoggson's shorter design requiring thicker columns. (Image courtesy of WWU Archives)
Sculpture of basalt rocks with a plaque attached to its front side surrounded by grass and a forest in the background
The memorial's centerpiece awaits the curious. One of the embankments of stacked, broken concrete can be seen just beyond. I wonder if these chunks of concrete were old campus sidewalks pulled up during university construction at that time and available at no cost to the committee. If this was the case, how eerie and profound it would be that the students who lost their lives may have walked upon those very sidewalks themselves. (Photo by author)
A bronze plaque with all six of the victims names firmly mounted to stone bolted to the stones
The infamous bronze nameplate that was so long in the making stoically declares those lost. (Photo by author)

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David Scott Spangler

History can be connective. Since I am moved by what remains, I am documenting and sharing remnants of Pacific Northwest history before they vanish forever.