Hi. There used to be an aircraft beacon on Mt Catherine near Snoqualmie pass. I guess there is still some equipment up there. Does anyone know the history of it like how did they get power to the site or when it was operational?
It was 20 years ago when I climbed Catherine and did see some equipment/wires along with a rusting stove up there. Whoever staffed that beacon if still alive is 100 years old now. But they did keep records which might be stored at the National Archives at Sand Point. They are closed now due to COVID and their on-line search option is giving me trouble this morning. When they do open up the reference librarians there are helpful. But here is a link to start your own search.
Back in the early days of aviation the beacons were used as night time navigational aids for aircraft flying from point A to B. Obviously they were only effective when the weather was clear and they could be seen. When electronics came out the beacons were replaced by by ADF and VOR systems in light aircraft. These systems allowed small planes to fly under instrument flight rules
( in the clouds). Today I'm sure GPS has taken over most navigational duties. I haven't flown for years, so I don't know what the nav aid of choice is today. It would be interesting to know where these beacons were located, and I don't have a clue how they were powered.
Almost half the airway beacons installed in 1927-31 were lit by acetylene. Electrical service was not available in most rural locations. The "Mt. Catherine" site may have been at the end of a logging road near the ridge, well below the summit?
-------------- "of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated. It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
I read on the Cle Elum Ranger District website that the Mt. Catherine trail was built in the 1930's for the construction and maintenance of a navigation light beacon. The Forest Service said the trail was built by the (FAA) Federal Aviation Administration. But the FAA was not created until 1958. An Aeronautics Branch of the Commerce Dept. was started in 1926 and became the (CAA) Civil Aeronautics Authority in 1938. Later on is was renamed the Civil Aeronautics Administration. My dad worked for the CAA/FAA from 1945 to 1972.
Part of the lower section of the Mt. Catherine Trail is still there from when it was first built. The part from the junction with the Cold Creek Trail near Twin Lakes going up to the FS Road 9070 at the present day trailhead for the 1.2 mile hike to the summit. The original trail probably began down by Hyak in the 1930's.
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