Shadow catcher: Valley connection with famed photograper leads to museum, theater show

It is the Snoqualmie Valley’s connection with the Curtis brothers, Edward and Asahel, that brings a rare performance to North Bend this week. The two Curtis brothers were active as photographers, promoters and documentarians in the early 20th century. Asahel’s work took him from Snoqualmie Falls to Eastern Washington and the Klondike. The Asahel Curtis trail over the Pass is named for him.

It is the Snoqualmie Valley’s connection with the Curtis brothers, Edward and Asahel, that brings a rare performance to North Bend this week.

The two Curtis brothers were active as photographers, promoters and documentarians in the early 20th century.

Asahel’s work took him from Snoqualmie Falls to Eastern Washington and the Klondike. The Asahel Curtis trail over the Pass is named for him.

Edward found a different passion. For 30 years, he crossed the continent, photographing and documenting the vanishing ways of 80 Native American tribes.

His work is the subject of a book, “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher,” by Seattle author Timothy Egan. A live reading for the stage, put on by Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre and sponsored by 4Culture, comes to the North Bend Theatre, 7 p.m. Thurday, Dec. 12. North Bend Theatre and Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum were asked to partner and host the event by 4Culture, because of the Valley’s link to the Curtis brothers.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for our four organizations, the Historical Museum, North Bend Theatre, Book-It Theatre and 4Culture, to work together to bring a great program to the community,” local historian Cristy Lake told the Record.

Edward Curtis and his work have enabled future generations to have access to images of many people and their ways of life that would otherwise have never been recorded, says Lake. It’s also a fascinating story about a man and his life’s work over a hundred years ago, Lake added.

Asahel is far better known here in the Valley, with many of his Snoqualmie Falls photographs, and the Asahel Curtis trail on the Snoqualmie Pass, than his brother Edward. But they both made an impact, says Lake.

Spanning 30 years and an entire continent, Book-It’s production is meant to bring Curtis’ work vividly to life.

“I have seen two other of their performances, one for the anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and one for the anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair and they were both wonderful,” said Lake.

• Admission is $5.

 


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