December 15th, 2014
In mid-December of 2014, Olympic National Park’s Elwha River experienced something it hadn’t in over a century. Heavy rains rolled in from the Pacific Ocean, dumping over a foot of rain in 36 hours on the mountains and rainforests of nearly one million acres of pristine wilderness. With the rain came a warm front, raising the freezing level and melting the early snow-pack that was coasting the jagged Olympic Mountains. Together, the rain and melting snow drained down from every nook and cranny, eventually reaching the rivers of the region.
The Elwha River was the site of the America’s largest dam removal project, completed earlier in 2014. The region had had some heavy rain before the December storm of 2014, but nothing could prepare locals and tourists for just how majestic the Elwha would look during the first flood on her in over a century. Trees resting on river banks were swiftly sent downstream, mixing with the charcoal waters, grayed from the construction sites and sediment build up on either side of the dams.
While many stayed indoors during the storm, Filmmaker John Gussman was out documenting the transformation of the river. John Gussman is best known for Return of the River, a documentary about the Elwha River and the transformation of this once dammed river into the free flowing beauty it is today. Watch what he saw:
Discover More about the Elwha Region of Olympic National Park
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