Why an island on Diablo Lake is called Monkey Island

I spent the beginning of summer in the North Cascades. I can’t imagine a better way to kick off my favorite season.

Seattle City Light, along with the North Cascades Institute and the National Park Service, offered a sampling of some of the activities on Highway 20.

Along with other journalists, I got a chance to visit the Gorge Powerhouse, take a look at the towns of Newhalem and Diablo and enjoy lunch at the North Cascades Institute.

I’ll write a longer story later, but for now here are a few amusing tidbits from the trip.

J.D. Ross, the second superintendent of Seattle City Light and a huge proponent of hydropower projects on the Skagit River, was quite the character.

He wanted a grand garden at the site of the Gorge powerhouse at Newhalem. Tourists who visited were able to see bananas and bamboo growing in the manicured gardens. In winter, the out-of-place plants were dug up and tucked safely into greenhouses. At night, lights lit up an nearby stream and music was played through the ground on speakers. Ross really wanted people to think electricity was cool. (Those lights, after being put out of service by electrical storms, will be back in service sometime this summer, if all goes as planned.)

While I found the bananas growing in the North Cascades amusing, the best J.D. Ross story is the monkeys. Apparently, the beauty of Diablo Lake (the reservoir created by the Diablo Dam) with its turquoise waters wasn’t enough of a draw for him. So he borrowed monkeys from the zoo and put them on a small island in the lake. The climate was clearly not any good for monkeys, so each night they’d be brought inside so they didn’t freeze. They still call it Monkey Island.

He also put a number of white deer on what was dubbed Deer Island. Deer, it turns out, can swim. And, not surprisingly, some of them found living on a tiny island rather boring. Staff at NCI told me that until a few years ago, they would still see white deer on campus, presumably descendants of the original white deer.

More in Life

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Slow-roasted vegetables make sumptuous sauce for pasta

Make the basic but good spaghetti with red sauce blissfully better with this recipe.

Mocking meatloaf: One man’s loaf is another man’s poison

Some don’t like it and some do. Here are six meatloaf recipes to try.

Roasted Brussels sprouts can be the apple of picky eater’s eye

Toasted sesame seeds and diced apple add flavors that compliment the sprouts’ earthiness.

Arlington eagle fest wants your nature-themed artwork, haiku

Local residents of an artistic bent are invited to submit… Continue reading

Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith and U2 added to Grammys performance roster

Also unveiled is a performance by pop star Miley Cyrus and superstar piano-rocker Elton John.

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman listens to a guide at the Sci-Tech Complex in Pyongyang, North Korea, last summer. Rodman was arrested Saturday on suspicion of DUI in Southern California. (Kim Kwang Hyon / Associated Press file)
Rodman checks into rehab after DUI arrest

His agent says he’s dealing with his longtime struggle with alcoholism.

Hau Tran sings as Vietnamese seniors eat at Homage’s Center for Healthy Living on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. Each weekday the center offers its room for various cultures to get together for activities and lunch while speaking their native languages. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Seniors of four cultures gather for food, fitness and fun

Homage’s Center for Healthy Living offers a venue for programs in the seniors’ native languages.

Ethnic communities eagerly await Lunar New Year on Feb. 16

By Homage Senior Services Ethnic communities around the world are getting eager… Continue reading

Most Read