Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Real Twin Peaks: The Packard Sawmill

The Packard Sawmill, which itself burned down in the finale of Twin Peaks season one, is barely recognizable - in fact barely existent today. It's one of the sadder locations to visit because only a single smokestack and building remains:

This was the former Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company mill, and I mentioned in an earlier post that in an interesting Twin Peaks-related twist, some of the timber that used to hold up the lumber mill is now used in the shed protecting the Giant Log from the opening credits. So it all comes full circle.

(Incidentally, if you're trying to get your bearings, the two photos above are from similar angles. Look at the road in front and mountains behind.)

Funnily enough, the mill grounds are now part of a rally racing circuit.

The school itself used to be the mill office. (More on this building in the next post - it's a show location too!)

But yeah, the mill itself is basically gone. In fact, it was mostly gone already during season one of the show, when it was downsized into a much smaller mill.

The Real Twin Peaks: Giant Log

The giant log as seen in the Twin Peaks credits sequence is still there in Snoqualmie, exactly where it always was, but it looks quite a bit different than it did in the series.

While the series had it sitting imposingly out in the open on a cart on the tracks, the town of Snoqualmie has now built a protective shed around it along with viewing benches and a large iron fence. This has the effect of diminishing its stature, although it was probably a necessary evil as rain is the enemy of dead wood and even with the fence, kids are still figuring out ways to write graffiti on the log. That damn Bobby Briggs!

You can see that the log itself has deteriorated somewhat, but the telltale bark pattern on the left side of the log is still there, as are the holes for the 2x4's that used to hold it steady. It's clearly the same log; time has just had its way.

As for the shed, here's an interesting thing. Read this explanation of what the log is and why it's here (expand the photo; there's a bigger version):

The Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company sawmill is the Packard Sawmill. In the lower right box there, you see that the timbers used in the building of this woodshed were recycled from the remnants of the old mill. So even the shed here has a connection to the TV show - this same wood may have been seen in the Packard Sawmill interior in the pilot episode!

I'll have more on what's left of the Packard Sawmill in another post.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Real Twin Peaks: Ronette Pulaski's Bridge

One of the central events of the Twin Peaks pilot was when a partially clothed and obviously battered Ronette Pulaski stumbled across this railway bridge the day after Laura Palmer's murder, then immediately fell into a coma. Their cases must be related, but how? Their fellow students all agreed the two girls barely knew each other. Ah, yet another piece of the mystery unfolds!

We stumbled onto this bridge by accident, although we had planned to seek it out eventually. But it is literally down the road from the Twin Peaks welcome sign - as we were driving, it suddenly appeared out of the wilderness in front of us.

As a New Yorker, I like to think of this as "The Ronette Pulaski Bridge" - that sounds fitting and familiar to me. Its real name is the "Reinig Bridge", and it was originally a trunk line meant to shuttle lumber from the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company mill (aka the Packard Sawmill).

(If you want to have a little fun with that map, follow the line of new trees where the rail line used to be to the north and see if you run across anything you recognize. You should find two more show locations pretty easily.)

Here's the bridge today:

Amazingly, it is in basically the same condition as in the show pilot 26 years ago. The same amount of rust :)

That said, it is now a pedestrian bridge, part of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail:

In person, it's obvious to me why Lynch and/or Frost wanted to use this bridge in the show. It sticks out oddly as a dilapidated, imposing, industrial structure in the middle of beautiful forest greenery.

Incidentally, while I'm sure it's possible to get the same angle and background compression as the shot from the show at the top, it's difficult. They were using a really long lens to make those mountains appear that close, and standing somewhere that I don't think you're really meant to stand. I don't have a long lens for my current camera, and I couldn't see an obvious spot to get that angle anyway. They were on the other side of the bridge, and must have been standing at the very edge of the riverbank. (There is a small beach on the side of the bridge I was on, but nothing at all on the other side - it's just trees right to the edge of the bank.)

I did get a shot of how the mountains look in real life, from the bridge:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Real Twin Peaks: The Double-R Diner

Agent Cooper's go-to place for a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie still exists, and in fact looks basically like it did in the show. Its real name is now Twede's Cafe, formerly the Mar-T (or T-Mar, depending on who you ask) after an ownership change or two over the years.

Twede's is in North Bend, one of the two main towns that make up the "town" of Twin Peaks.

You will notice the "RR2GO" graphic above - in fact this is one of the few Twin Peaks locations that really embraces its connection to the show.

Some may actually find this off-putting - it's clearly a tourist attraction at this point. We were surprised that that was still the case, 25 years later. But the waitstaff told us they got Twin Peaks fans from all over the world.

BUT - and this is a big BUT - they do have a damn fine cup of coffee and the best cherry pie this side of the Mississippi.

What I'm saying is this is not style over substance - this place delivers in all the ways it's supposed to. Don't listen to those reviews up there - I come from diner country, and this place is great. I even thought my lunch was quite good - it's standard diner food of course, but I loved my pastrami sandwich (I did have to tell them to hold the lettuce and tomato). And THE PIE:

Yes, it really is amazing pie. My wife and I even went to our favorite local bakery after coming back just to make sure, and their pie IN NO WAY COMPARED.

The pilot episode was filmed inside the real Mar-T Cafe, on location as most of the pilot was. Obviously, that meant a lot of traipsing around the Pacific Northwest with heavy equipment, not to mention the framing and lighting challenges that seem obvious above. But if you were to visit the Mar-T Cafe right after the pilot filmed, it would have looked exactly the same as the show inside.

The whole place was pretty much gutted by fire in 2000, and then came back with a more modern blue interior with more seats and a smaller counter. That's what I was expecting on our visit. So I was really happy to see this:

In fact, it's now laid out and styled pretty much just as it originally was, with most of the same decor, right down to the wood paneling. (The wall to wall carpeting is gone, with a floor more of an homage to the later episodes - an understandable tradeoff.) There does seem to be one fewer stool - I'm not sure if the counter is smaller or there's just more space between stools.

This apparently was actually paid for by Showtime specifically for the Twin Peaks reboot. Lucky timing on our part! But it is a permanent remodel.

The Double-R in Twin Peaks was a set in California after the pilot episode, rebuilt there for ease in filming and transport costs, and consequently the diner you see through most of the series - while the actual Mar-T/Twede's Cafe exterior - is actually quite a bit bigger inside. It's styled to look like Twede's, but just keep in mind it is a set, lest you start wondering why certain things don't look quite right ("there are too many booths!" or "there's too much space in front of the jukebox!" or "why don't they ever show the view out the windows?").

We even felt like we got the full waitress experience - I'm sure our particular waitress is probably sick to death of hearing it, but she was a pretty good ringer for Shelly Johnson. Unfortunately the waitstaff no longer wear those 50's style uniforms - they should!

I bought this t-shirt on our way out, the same one you see standing up behind the counter in the photo above:

They have t-shirts in black and green as well, all with different designs. I liked this one the best. Unfortunately it runs a bit small, so it's probably just a souvenir now - wore it once and that's probably it. If only Twede's had a web store, I'd get another one a size up.

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.

About Me

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I'm married. I like to travel. I have no kids. I have a house... that I'm bad at maintaining. I used to collect classic video games. I own a lot of musical equipment that far outstrips my ability to use it. When I was younger, I was in a band. I like gadgets, and I'm an Android guy. Someday, I would like to live on a different planet.


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