Thursday, June 28, 2007

Perkins Lane

A dynamic coastal city like Seattle deserves to have a big landslide within site of downtown. Perkins Lane is draped along the southern face of Magnolia Bluff, and has been for some time, although it has drooped with age. By the 1930s, the WPA was installing drain systems to stabilize the slope. It may have helped a little, although Perkins Lane remains possibly the best example of a large deep-seated landslide complex on the Sound - certainly the one most accessible to UW geology classes. Others include Ledgewood on Whidbey, Termination Point on Hood Canal, Sunrise Beach near Olympia, and some wonderful landslides north of Kingston (there are many more).

In 1996, six homes at the eastern end of Perkins Lane began their migration to the sea. It was slow, and even in 2000, the forms of houses were still fairly evident. Last Sunday, the homes were little more than piles of cement and rusty metal. And enough remnants of daily life to remind me that archaeology often begins as a sad story. The plastic high chair tray, for example. I was impressed by large sections of plumbing strewn across the beach and framing compressed between the hillslope and the concrete foundations slabs as if they were in a trash compactor.

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