While we all know the Hoh Rainforest is one of the wettest places in America, there is much that many locals and tourists are not aware of in the region. The Hoh, made famous for giant trees that were used to help build America is best known for receiving over 12 feet of rain each year. From Twilight to Banana Slugs and Roosevelt Elk, visitors to the Hoh Region come for a wide variety of reasons. With beaches nearby, as well as an opportunity to climb Mount Olympus, the Hoh River provides visitors with some of the most beautiful natural scenes.
The Hoh River has a unique history, and has been seen in magazines and even on TV, the latest being The Legend of Mick Dodge, airing on National Geographic. While the show doesn’t delve too much into the culture and history of the region, it does provide an insight to the people and scenery of the region. While you might love what you have seen in pictures of on the TV about the Hoh, the region is far more beautiful than they have shown.
FIVE FACTS: HOH RAINFOREST
1) Why is the Hoh River Milky Blue?
The Hoh area is a mixture of colors so pure and primitive, they are nearly impossible to photograph. From the deep greens of the rainforest, to the eternally wet browning black of the soil, the hues of the Hoh are only found in this temperate rainforest. While the moss and dirt are unique in their coloration, the more fascinating color of the region comes from the glacier fed Hoh River.
The Hoh River has a unique color, compared to rivers along the western slopes of the Olympic National Park. Often described as a milky blue color, the Hoh River is actually full of glacial sediment, which causes the blueish tint. As the glaciers retreat up the slopes of Mount Olympus, they ground the rocks along the path into a fine powder, which is referred to as glacial flour. This powder is sent downstream, settling along the mostly calm banks of the river.
2) The Hoh Were Originally the Upside-Down People
Most native groups along the Olympic Peninsula believed in K’wati, better known as the Great Changer. Before the Great Changer, who is responsible for making the world as it is now, the people of the Hoh were clumsy, walking on their hands and trying to fish and use nets with their feet. K’wati, the Changer taught the Hoh how to walk on their feet and use their hands for fishing. Since the Hoh were so accepting of this new life, K’wati rewarded them with a river full of fish.
3) The Original Villages Along the Hoh River
Before Europeans came to the region, and after K’wati turned them right-side-up, the Hoh had 7 main villages along the Hoh River. Each village had what we now describe as Nuclear families, with the population consisting of little more than 10 people in each village. While the population was higher before European Exploration (called Drifting People by the Hoh) and disease, the Hoh has always been a small, close-knit tribe. While originally numbering in the hundreds, in 1901, there were only sixty-four members of the Hoh Tribe left.
While we tried to gather enough research to locate the seven main villages on the Hoh, the eradication of history and culture has limited our abilities. We did discover 4 villages, which are as follows:
4) The City of Forks was one of the Wealthiest Town in America
Most people in America know Forks, Washington for its role in the Twilight Books and movies, bringing vampire and werewolf lore to a region that was previously best known for logging. While tourism has waned in recent years, at the height of the Twilight phenomenon, the city of Forks saw a 1000% boom in tourism, with the majority of visitors also exploring the Olympic National park’s Rialto and Hoh regions.
While Twilight was great for Forks, they had seen economic booms in the past. During the height of logging in the region, Forks was rumored to have the highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States. Sadly for the people of the region, when logging began to die down for both environmental and economic reasons, the city dried up and was nothing more than yet another small, struggling town on the Olympic Peninsula.
5) The Hoh River Oil Fields: Oil City
While we briefly mentioned the logging history of the Hoh Region, the early non-indigenous settlers to the area were not just after trees. Oil City, located near the Hoh River was at one time the city of hopes and dreams for hundreds of people.
Located on the North side of the mouth of the Hoh River, Oil City was created as a city in 1911. For hundreds of years, the native groups of the region knew and use oil that would seep up from the beaches and river bank and when white settlers came to the region, they figured this was a great location to get rich. They set up oil operations, with major companies from around the nation investing in the exploration, in hopes to turn the mouth of the Hoh River into the largest Deep Water Oil Port on the West Coast. Lucky for us that love nature and clean oceans, the search for oil did not produce enough to make drilling profitable and the entire region was abandoned.
While there is obviously more history, culture and amazingness to discuss about the Hoh River and Hoh Rainforest of the Olympic National Park, we hope that these five facts will help you gain a better understanding for the region. Knowing the background of a region can be used to not only make the hours it takes to drive to this region pass by more quickly, but it can also provoke you to do your own research on the area and discover a way to connect to the region. We thank you for reading and encourage you to share this with others who love the Hoh as much as we do!
See our other 5 Facts Posts:
Mount Olympus: http://bit.ly/1dQoj7S
Lake Cushman: http://bit.ly/1bUs2nw
Destruction Island: http://bit.ly/1fI93gz
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