Found Poem

by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest.

  • October 20, 2022
  • |
  • Poetry
  • |
  • By Rena Priest

“Literature is news that stays news.”
-Ezra Pound

Bellingham Herald, July 25, 1919*

Deadman’s Point,
ancient Indian burial ground,
is now but a memory.

It has been washed and dumped into the sea.

The last shovelful of earth from the point
was scooped up by the Great Northern’s
steam shovel Wednesday,
thus completing a demolition
that started about 1890,
when a cut was made
at the point for Harris Avenue.

Altogether…
about 200,000 cubic yards of earth
have been removed from the point.
The last excavation, made
by the Great Northern to get material
for filling in its trestles,
removed about 40,000 yards.

The second attack on Deadman’s Point
was made in 1901 by the Great Northern
when it put through its right of way.

Subsequently, onslaughts were made
by the Pacific American Fisheries,
the Bellingham Canning Company,
and the Fairhaven Land Company.

The latter concern washed a big portion
into the sea to make room for
George Hackett’s Cold Storage plant,
since acquired by the Pacific American Fisheries
and converted to other uses.

From time to time during the excavations
Indian skulls and skeletons were unearthed.
Early this week an Indian skull
that was almost flat from the forehead back
was found. The Great Northern still lacks
earth to fill in all its trestles in this vicinity
and it will now remove 20,000 yards
from a point south of McKenzie Avenue.


* This is the date that this found poem appeared as an article in the local
newspaper, celebrating the destruction of an ancient Lhaq’temish cemetery

With special thanks to Kolby LaBree at bellinghistory.com for bringing this story to my attention.

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