The United States Geological Survey was founded in 1879 with the purpose of exploring the geological and geographical extents of the country. In the following centuries countless landforms have been inventoried, named, measured, poked, prodded and studied to just about every extent possible. Countless systems have been derrived to measure virtually every type of natural landform there is. We know definitively what the tallest Mountains are, which rivers are the longest, how much ice exists in the Glaciers of the Cascade Mountains, and so on. But waterfalls seem to have been forgotten. This is, of course, partly because waterfalls are much more difficult to both access and properly survey - especially deep in the wilderness areas that permeate the west so broadly. But one has to wonder why such a unique geologic entity can go so underappreciated and unstudied for so long.
The Northwest Waterfall Survey seeks to remedy that. The purpose behind this website is to inventory, study and properly catalog and make known the stature and significance of the thousands and thousands of waterfalls which occur within the Pacific Northwest. The USGS has started the task by mapping several hundred of these features, but thats largely the extent of their work. The Northwest Waterfall Survey aims to not only provide information that will substantiate any existing data, but to also provide the first concrete record of just how many waterfalls there are in the region and how they measure up against the rest of the world.
The obsession with waterfalls began at a very early age for me. The first real concrete memories I hold are of family trips along the North Cascades Highway and my utter amazement at the waterfalls and cascades seen along the route. The seed was planted after that point and only grew faster, becoming firmly rooted during a trip to Norway and Sweden all before my 10th birthday. Over 20 years after that first exposure, little else comes close to being as exhilerating and attractive to me than spending time in the wilderness, hunting down and photographing waterfalls.
During High School, I was first introduced to web programming and the idea of this website immediately materialized. Since 1998 this site has grown from a haphazard clump of pages tossed together to share some of my photos into an all-out database. My attraction to web design carried me through College and has served to both drive me to constantly refine this site and provide me with a vocation that allows maximum time to dedicate to hunting down waterfalls.
Going hand in hand with hunting waterfalls, I quickly became attached to landscape photography. Oddly enough, all through my school years, my art form of choice was drawing. All my teachers, friends and relatives constantly encouraged me to keep drawing. The waterfall obsession ended up subconsciously fueling another passion for the arts in Landscape Photography, and by the time I graduated High School, I much preferred a camera to a pencil. It wasn't until I switched to Digital Photography in 2003 that I saw the attraction to more than just waterfalls, and ever since, I will plan my outings in ways that allow me to maximize both the number of waterfalls I can scout and inventory, but also areas that will prove to be attractive photographically. Were money not an issue, I would pursue photography as a full time profession, but sadly enough, like most arts, it simply isn't easy to make a living off of. As it is, my work can be seen on Flickr and Smugmug.
Future plans for both myself and this website include further refinement and integration of mapping tools that will allow easier navigation and parusal of the data contained within. Many people ask me if I ever plan on writing a book on waterfalls. Well, that is a no brainer. What is still up in the air, however, is how many books there will be. The current model outlines a 7-volume set documenting the waterfalls in the state of Washington, as well as more photographically driven projects documenting waterfalls elsewhere. The time table is entirely dependant on how much time can be dedicated to the project, but like I said, because this is simply a hobby for me, the bills come first.
Until then, learn how you can help and support this project and thanks for being interested.
Founder, Northwest Waterfall Survey