I am fascinated by creativity and the act of creation. I mean, deep down at the synapses level, how does a person conceive and create that beautiful piece of art? How does that person conceive and engineer that truly cool new thing? I have a plethora of artists, crafty wizards, and backyard engineers in my life. I love getting as close as I can to the neuron-firing which produces something breath-taking.
Recently, someone asked their online community what we would like her to present at an upcoming symposium. I replied that I would love to know the story of how they dreamed up and developed their homestead and business. It has just occurred to me this morning that this process, homesteading, is a creative act. If that is so, then all of us here at CopperMoon are involved in this act of creativity also.
So, how did CopperMoon come about and get to where it is today? This will likely have to be a four-part story, maybe five, to present the complete picture. Remember James Michener? Often, his books start way back in the mists of geologic time as some land or place is formed. I think that is where the CopperMoon story must start.
It is tricky to pick a starting point for a geological view of this land. I am starting with the Vashon Ice Sheet which 15,000 to 20,000 years BP (Before Present). The Puget Lobe of this ice sheet reached as far south as what is now the Chehalis River (south of Olympia) and the subsequent melt water of the retreating glacier formed many of the major geological features, such as river drainages, in which we currently live. Of course, tectonic processes, volcanic action, and other major movements of the earth (landslides) were in play also. As our property is between the lowlands and the Cascade Range, it was subjected to all of these forces.
More specifically, CopperMoon is 18 miles east of Puget Sound and 34.5 miles west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains at Steven’s Pass (4,062 feet elevation). We are 5.7 miles north of the Skykomish River which turns into the Snohomish River at Monroe and, along with the Snoqualmie River, forms the major river drainage in this area. CopperMoon is situated on a plateau between the Sultan River on the east and Woods Creek to the West. This plateau, which is nameless, averages 200 feet higher than surrounding land and its highest point is just over 1,000 feet above sea level. The west end of CopperMoon is the highest at just over 700 feet elevation and the east end is lowest at about 620 feet. According to the USGS maps, the 700 foot contour line runs just about right through our house. Our property is a 20 acre rectangle, running east-west, and the east end is about 445 feet from Woods Lake.
About three-quarters of our land (16 acres) is forested with patches of Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Sitka Spruce, and Douglas Fir alternating with alder, cottonwood, maple, and scattered cherry trees. The understory is open under the evergreens but thick with salmon berry, blackberry, and occasional elderberry under the deciduous trees. We find an occasional bolete or chantrelle mushroom but not enough to get excited about. Of course, there are scads of Artist’s Conk, Little Brown Mushrooms, and other fungus and molds. The final quarter of the property is the pasture, orchard, yard, garden and buildings.
We have a creek on the north side of the property which flows year around. It is raucous and full in the wet months but a quiet trickle in the dry months. It flows down into Woods Lake which outlets down into the Sultan River. Our creek is the main feature of a place which we call Fairy Land.
We know that people lived around here before this current settlement took place. No doubt, indigenous peoples lived around here before property lines became the norm. The Snohomish, Snoqualmie, and Stilliguamish peoples would have been the closest.
Logging was a significant industry of this region after it was settled and our property has been logged in the past. We have several huge marvelous stumps left from the old growth forest that was cut down. No significant tree cutting has happened here since about 1998 when this house was built. A map that used to be on display in Sultan, the nearest town, showed a railroad line that came up here most likely in support of the timber industry. I can point out the old railway bed to you just down the road. This past summer, we pulled a rusted two-man cross cut saw blade out of the lower pasture
Our property has a well on it, about half-way to the east end which is remnants of the earliest white settlers here. Just this year, I uncovered a log bridge over the creek. Owing to the wet and rotting conditions it exists in, I cannot estimate the age of the bridge other than “very old.”
According to paperwork in our possession, the previous owners of this property, the Davis’, bought it from Kenmore Air Harbor, Inc in 1998. They started clearing the west end of it, putting in the access drive, and building the house. While I’ve never talked to the Davis’, I have the feeling that they put some advanced thinking into situating this house facing southwest to improve passive solar gain in the wintertime.
This is how the property now known as CopperMoon came to be when, in 2007, Woosi was looking for land to purchase. We visited and viewed a lot of places in the Snohomish/Monroe area and none of them ever quite measured up to her desires. One day in August 2007, she went to look at some land way out north of Monroe. After a while, she called me, quite excited, and said that I “have to come see this place.”
End of Part 1