The mouth of the Nooksack River – Bellingham Bay

Posted: April 7, 2009 in Photography

I recently found a spot that has turned out to be a really cool place for shootin’ some photographs.  Bellingham Bay’s shoreline is littered with hundreds of old pilings that peer up out of the tidal flats in various locations. They make for really great photography.  The following shots have been taken at the mouth of the Nooksack River where it empties into Bellingham Bay on the most western side of the bay.  At this point in time, I am not 100% sure of the history of  these pillars.  With the way they are layed out they certainly played a part in Bellingham’s history.  I am currently researching information on this particular set of pilings and will post any findings that I come across.

UPDATE 4.08.09:  Mr Jeff Jewell of The Whatcom Museum here in Bellingham responded to my email regarding these pilings.  According to Mr. Jewell, these pilings were installed at the mouth of the Nooksack River by the Bellingham Bay Boom Company in 1890.  During these times the Nooksack River was used as a natural flume by the timber industry.  Harvested timber was floated down the river from the surrounding hills and into Bellingham Bay.  The timber would then be gathered and tied off  in large groups called “log booms”.   The pilings at the mouth of the river were used to store the log booms until they were ready to be processed by nearby saw mills. 

Many steamboats also traveled the Nooksack during these times.  The log booms made it extremely difficult for these boats to navigate the river.  In 1900 the steamboats brought a lawsuit against the Bellingham Boom Company that ended the catching and storing of log booms at the mouth of the river.  The storage facilities were then moved to an area on the east side of the bay.  What’s now left standing are the remaining pilings that were once used over 100 years ago. 

I feel privilaged to have been able to capture a piece of Bellingham’s history that has quite an interesting story behind it.

Pillars on the Bay

Tall and Proud over Bellingham Bay

Pillars On Bellingham Bay

Bellingham Bay Pillars

For most of these shots I actually stood in the middle of the Nooksack River with my tripod extended into the water giving my camera a low-view perspective right over the top of the water.  While extremely risky with expensive equipment, I find it a way to get those “outside the box” shots.  Most of the photography that I have been doing the last couple of month’s has been a lot of experimentation with longer shutter speeds.  In fact my camera has rarely left the top of my tripod in the last 2 months.  With the above photographs, most of them are in the shutter speeds of 2 to 30 seconds.  I find it very interesting in how it’s a completely different demension of photography when you start leaving a shutter open for seconds on end.  I’ll have more to write on that later, but for these shots it really smooths out the water ripples and gives the water that “glassy” feeling.  These shots would be nothing with out that effect.

– Enjoy

  1. Patty says:

    I love these photos! And see, you’ve already done the research for a travel mag article on a special part of Bellingham’s history. How very interesting! Keep shooting and writing!

  2. Beautiful photos! This is a special place.

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