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Mount Baker Marathon Movie


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Between 1911 and 1913, a race was run between Bellingham and the summit of Mount Baker. The Mount Baker Marathon allowed racers to use whatever means necessary to get to the trailhead, and then from there, the racers would run to the top of Mount Baker and back. The winner would collect $100 in gold, which was no small change in the early nineteen hundreds.


After one a racer's suffered a fatal training accident, another racer was responsible for a train derailment, and another racer survived a crevasse fall, the Mount Baker Marathon ended.


Now, 100 years later, a documentary film is being made about the race.


We at the American Alpine Institute have helped the documentary people a bit with some logistics for their film and have even provided some (very bad) period acting on Baker. And though they have been filming quite a bit this summer, they are far from finished. They are still searching for information.


If you have any first hand knowledge of the relatives of runners, relatives of judges, or have any ideas about where to find archival footage of Mount Baker or the Cascades, please feel free to send me a PM. I will forward your contact info and your ideas to the documentary filmmakers.


Jason Martin

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Hi Ed,


I watched the short Youtube video by the documentary makers. It looks like they've already scoured the local historical societies and archives for newspaper clippings and photos. I didn't have any luck finding any archival film footage.


The University of Washington Libraries Special Collections has a large collection of family photographs and home movies. Again, the documentary producers have likely already searched these. For instance, they have a collection of images from the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (a big fair in Seattle in 1909) donated by Victor Galbraith (Victor Galbraith won the Mt Baker Marathon in 1913, so they may be related). You can search the photo collection at http://content.lib.washington.edu/index.html, although they've catalogued and digitized only a very small portion of their immense collection thus far. You can also search the UW library catalog, which returns info on some collections with photos of Mount Baker (no film, though, which doesn't mean they don't have any, it just means that they haven't catalogued it yet). For example:



Henry Engberg photograph collection, 1909-1918: The Henry Engberg photograph collection consists of photographic postcard prints and nitrate negatives of hiking trips, mostly to Mount Baker, made by the Engberg family and their friends. The collection contains views of various mountain summits and glaciers, as well as photographs of the hikers. Accompanying notes indicate that Paul Enberg may have used this collection for a meteorology study.


Dose family photograph collection 1903-1912.: the Dose family photograph collection consists of photographs of the members of the Mount Baker Improvement Club, the Dose family, the Dose real estate offices, and homes from the Dose Addition in Mount Baker Park.


As I said, I didn't have any luck finding archival film footage. I usually search the Internet Archive. They only have 145 clips from 1913 and earlier. Interestingly, the first clip that appeared in my results was of a horse-drawn fire truck produced by Thomas Edison: http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=mediatype%3A%28movies%29%20AND%20date%3A%5B1800-01-01%20TO%201913-12-31%5D.


For books, Google Books is the best bet because they've digitized thousands of books, and all books that are no longer in copyright (1922 and earlier) are freely available, like this one from 1916 that includes info about the marathon: http://books.google.com/books?id=qpkdAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA43&dq=%22Mount+baker+marathon%22&hl=en&ei=83tjTIOUCcG88gausvyFCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCcQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=%22Mount%20baker%20marathon%22&f=false


For newspaper articles, the Library of Congress's Chronicling America website will soon have digital copies of Washington newspaper articles published between 1860-1922. The digitization project started a few years ago, so I'm guessing it will be completed within the next year. It's really hard work to digitize and catalog, so it takes a while.


Tracking down relatives of the marathoners is a rather time consuming process.

The first step is to search Ancestry.com for census records and the death dates/locations of any of the runners. Ancestry.com offers some info for free, but each Seattle Public Library branch has access to a premium site with more info, which can be searched free of charge.

If the person died in Washington state, you can email the Seattle Public Library (http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=info_help_ask_email) and ask them to search for an obituary. If they can't find one, then they send your request to the Washington State Library. The obituary usually lists the names and locations of next of kin, so then it's a matter of constructing the family tree using a combination of Ancestry.com and city indexes (now known as phone books--early versions often listed the names of the husband, wife, and kids).


Sorry I couldn't come up with more promising leads. It's hard work reconstructing history :).





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The Mountaineers have old movies that include Mt Baker. See:




The Mountaineer movies go back to the late 1920s, not as far back as the marathons. I suspect that finding actual footage from the 1910s will be pretty difficult.


If they haven't already, the filmmakers should get in touch with John C. Miles, author of "Koma Kulshan: The Story of Mt Baker." I believe that John Miles is a professor at WWU.

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  • 1 year later...

Hi! Don't know if they are still working on the movie, but tonight I was talking to my mom and she had found a book report she had done back in school. Her uncle, Henry Hanson, had told her all about when he was a mechanic at the Mt Baker Marathon race in 1913, and she did a report on it. She may have some information in her report that you may not have from other sources. Let me know if you are interested in getting a copy of her report. anthony trillo. trillo2@starband.net

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