Mickey Alice Kwapis

taxidermy & craft

WASHINGTON - LAKE CRESCENT

Between teaching in Portland and Seattle, I spent a significant amount of time with my friends Joshua and Jesse, two brothers who live near the Space Needle and make delicious-smelling soap. I went to college with Josh and met Jesse by proxy. During some down time (two days of down time! This never happens!), we decided to make a trip out to the Olympic Peninsula.

Our first stop was Lake Crescent, which has somewhat of an interesting history. In the 1960s the U.S. Navy attempted to measure how deep the lake was but failed. Around a decade later, Peninsula College students also attempted to measure the lake's depth and their equipment maxed out at 624 feet. The National Parks service has that depth recorded, but unofficially the lake's depth was measured by a company laying cables. The deepest that equipment could reach was one thousand feet, so technically the lake's depth is still unknown.

If that's not scary enough, in 1937 a woman named Hallie Latham Illingworth disappeared. Everyone suspected her husband, but nobody could prove anything until 1940, when a pair of fishermen found a corpse floating in the water. Rather than being bloated like one would anticipate the body of a drowning victim to be, she was hogtied and bound and her body had saponified - the alkaline content of the lake water had turned the fat in her remains into adipocere, which is like Ivory soap. Because the lake was so cold and the body had been tied to the bottom of the lake, there was no decomposition at all.

Aside from soapy corpses and the fact that the lake is essentially bottomless, Lake Crescent is absolutely gorgeous and some of the water is turquoise. It's also surrounded by mountains and trees, which makes it the perfect place for a weekend (or weekday) getaway.

Mickey Alice Kwapis is a Chicago-based taxidermist, jeweler, and person who does a lot of stuff. All site content ©2011-2017 Mickey Alice Kwapis and Niche Lab LLC. Questions? Use the contact form.