Saturday, July 18, 2009

Premier


Puget Sound Energy premiered The Power of Snoqualmie Falls on Thursday at the North Bend Theater in North Bend. I estimate that 100 people showed up including the staffs of PSE and Sadis Filmworks. I researched and wrote the script.

The North Bend Theater dates from 1941 when it opened to newsreels of the Second World War and the latest Hollywood features. A newspaper article at the time touted "Many Marvel at Beautiful Interior-Lavish Appointments-Excellent Sound." The theater has been lovingly restored and it was fitting that PSE chose this landmark for the first public showing of the documentary.

To recap, the Snoqualmie Falls power plant was built by engineer Charles Hinckley Baker beginning in 1898 and it's still in operation producing power for Pacific Northwest consumers. It was the world's first completely underground power generating station blasted out of solid rock 250 feet below the Snoqualmie River. Baker overcame amazing financial, engineering, technological, and political battles to build the plant only to be forced out of the business. You will have to see the movie to know the whole story.

I came into the project through Steve Sadis and Jeri Vaughn who PSE retained to produce the documentary. PSE needs to remove some of the 100-year-old buildings on top. The movie is one mitigation for the loss of the historic structures. Having written the centennial history of Seattle City Light I was already plugged into Northwest utilities history and knew my way around the various archives. I tracked down several local historians with detailed information. Greg Watson who has written and taught about Native American History and who speaks the Lushootseed language. Onscreen Greg recounts the legend of Moon the Transformer who created the falls. Dave Battey is a local historian with insight into Baker.

I had seen the video before, but this was the first time on the big screen. Wow. There are even a couple of movie posters with my name on them as the writer. Wow. I didn't wear my tux, but I wore my Panama hat. The cookies, popcorn, and drinks were complimentary.

Copies of the DVD are being distributed to schools and public libraries. Steve Sadis is working with our local PBS station for broadcast in the fall. (I looked for the title on The Seattle Public Library catalogue, but it's not in yet.)

Here is the trailer which appeared here earlier.