Snoqualmie Valley History: Capturing Time – The Enduring Legacy of Clark Kinsey’s Photography

Clark Kinsey’s stunning photography captured life in the Snoqualmie Valley between 1890 and 1945.

His photographs are a major contribution to the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum collection, and the photo negatives are a valuable addition to the University of Washington Library. His photographs transport viewers back to experience what it was like to live in the Snoqualmie Valley in earlier times.

Kinsey was born in 1877 in Missouri. When Clark was 13, the Kinsey family moved to Snoqualmie. Clark’s parents bought the first lots sold in Snoqualmie after the area was platted in 1889. They built and ran the first hotel in Snoqualmie, the Hotel Kinsey. The family also owned a large livery stable and store on the back side of the hotel.

Hotel Kinsey PO.066.0001

Clark learned his photography skills from Mr. Rhinehart, who was a guest at the Hotel Kinsey for a year. Rhinehart arrived in Snoqualmie from Chicago and stayed for a year before moving to Seattle. He left quite an impression on young Clark during his stay at the hotel, and Clark decided to go into the photography business.

In 1894, he opened a photography studio on 2nd Avenue in Seattle. The studio later became known as Kinsey & Kinsey when his brother Darius joined as his business partner. The two Kinsey brothers created additional studios in Sedro Wooley and Arlington. In the summertime, they traveled from town to town, setting up tent studios everywhere they went. Eventually, the brothers’ business partnership dissolved.

Clark met Mary Jane Williams while taking photographs in Black Diamond. They married in 1898 during a double wedding alongside Mary’s sister, Sarah, and Clark’s brother, Ed. They were married at the Diller Hotel in Seattle, now known as the Diller Room, a bar located in the former lobby. The family eventually grew with the birth of two sons, Leonard and Ronald.

Shortly after marrying, the couple moved to North Dakota. In their new home, Clark pursued both mining and photography. He created a studio and photographed mining projects in the area, developing a large collection of Klondike photographs during this time period.

Clark Kinsey PO.1178.059

In 1914, Clark returned to photography in the Snoqualmie Valley and focused on the bustling logging industry. He photographed the Spruce Camps during World War 1 and the Civilian Conservation Corps Camps during the 1930s. He was the official photographer for the West Coast Lumberman’s Association and continued his professional photography career until his retirement in 1945.

Clark’s photography captured personal lives through studio family portraits and the professional lives of workers in major industries. His photographs gave a holistic insight into life in the early 1900s.

[Featured Image: Clark Kinsey PO.1178.058]

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