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Born in Seattle at the turn of the century, Dwight Watson was an amateur nature photographer, skier, and mountain climber. His passion for the outdoors originated with outings with his family when he was young. During this early period he attended Broadway High School and studied electrical engineering at the University of Washington. In the 1920s while employed at Puget Sound Power and Light Co., he developed his interest in mountaineering while visiting the companies Kapowsin and Electron power plants in the Puyallup River Valley. Its proximity to Mount Rainier National Park inspired him to go on the first of many long hikes around the park. He made his first ascent of Mt. Rainier on July 29, 1924. He also avidly explored many well known scenic spots in the Cascade Range, Olympic Peninsula, British Columbia and Oregon. His accomplishments included the first ski ascent of Glacier Peak in 1938 with Sigurd Hall and another early ski ascent of Eldorado Peak in the Cascades with Fred Beckey and Lloyd Anderson in 1940.
His alpine enthusiasm is reflected in his account of skiing in the Garibaldi area in 1943: "Some ski enthusiasts HAVE climbed in the park in spring for several days of WONDERFUL skiing--for skiing Paradise it IS but probably [will] be never popular when so much labor getting there is involved. The steep sloped runs from the Tusk would be thrilling to say the least while the views would be beyond comprehension!! And the glaciers near Garibaldi peak as well as south of Helm Lake-Helm Glacier as an example had splendid spring snow in mid-August for those die-hards who must ski every month in the year to keep in condition! Perhaps the popular advent of the helicopter after the war will solve the whole problem--or will it?"
His interest in mountaineering led him to become involved in The Mountaineers and also to author articles on backcountry skiing including a 1937 Mountaineer Annual article. In addition, he pursued his interest in amateur photography. Working mostly with 35 millimeter still photography and 8 and 16 mm moving pictures, he documented many of his cross country mountaineering and skiing trips. In the winter of 1936, he was invited by the Rainier National Park Company to take publicity pictures of the park for them. Along with his images, he included many lively annotations of his experiences in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. He associated with many well known mountaineers and photographers in the Pacific Northwest community including Hermann Ulrichs, Fred and Helmy Beckey, Otto Trott, Asahel Curtis, Ray Atkeson, and Lawrence D. Lindsley.
A very religious man, Dwight Watson became involved with the Hope Bible Fellowship of Seattle during the 1940s. He was staunchly opposed to the theory of evolution, and he taught Sunday school and led young people, especially YMCA and UPS messengers groups, in nature outings. Watson went on many such YMCA trips when he was a young man. He donated generously to several Christian missionaries and organizations. He compiled many boxes of clippings on skiing, hiking, and scientific phenomena. He also maintained correspondence with a wide variety of people in the scientific and religious fields. He later worked at Rainier Oven until he retired in 1962. He then lived and worked as a custodian for Hope Bible Fellowship in the Wallingford Fremont neighborhood. He also spent nine years at Harmony Gardens Care Center. Watson died of heart failure on Thursday, February 29, 1996.
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|Last modified: April 15, 2016|