• bible sitting next to a teapot

    Whitman Mission

    National Historic Site Washington

Then and Now

by Zach Schierl
Originally posted as a blog entry on October 18, 2011

Having amassed well over a thousand photographs of Whitman Mission since starting this blog last year, I recently found myself wondering about the many park photographers that no doubt came before me. Drawing inspiration from a display of historic park photographs in the Visitor Center, Museum Tech David Borges and I went into the archives and found several shots of the park from its early years that I decided to replicate in order to see how the landscape of the park has changed over the decades. While we unfortunately don't know exactly when many of these shots were captured, we do know that the photos of the Great Grave and the millpond were taken sometime before 1963, while the picture of the new Visitor Center was taken after its completion in 1963. Have a look at the three before and after photos below and see for yourself how Whitman Mission continues to evolve to this day!

 
More vegetation is one of the changes seen in this side-by-side comparison of the Great Grave area.
The Great Grave: then (left) and now (right).
NPS - Zach Schierl
 
The pond looks the same, but there are a few new trees and the trees at the base of the hill have grown much larger.
The Whitmans’ millpond as seen from the memorial shaft hill: then (left) and now (right).
NPS - Zach Schierl
 
IN the Then photo there are a few trees in the distance; in the Now photo trees surround and tower over the Visitor Center.
The park Visitor Center: soon after completion (left) and now (right).
NPS - Zach Schierl

Did You Know?

painting of mission with wagon in front

The Whitmans’ mission was important to early Oregon Trail travelers. Those who were sick, tired, or hungry or who needed a wagon fixed would make the side trip to the mission. Some would spend the winter with the Whitmans before continuing on to the Willamette Valley.