Mossback

The official podcast companion to Mossback’s Northwest, a video series about Pacific Northwest history from Cascade PBS. Mossback features stories that were left on the cutting room floor, along with critical analysis from co-host Knute Berger. Hosted by Knute Berger and Stephen Hegg

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Episodes

Friday Oct 27, 2023

Still encountering racism in the 'free' states of the West, some Black communities sought the American Dream in Canada.
Before the Civil War, many states in the American West were considered “free” because the institution of slavery was outlawed. That didn’t mean, however, that these places were free from racism and legalized discrimination.
So when a group of Black Americans from San Francisco were invited to join what was then a British colony in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, hundreds agreed to make the journey. The result was a mixed bag of freedom, opportunity, and, in some cases, encounters with the same discrimination they’d attempted to escape. 
Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger explored this complex history in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there is much more left to discuss.
In this episode of Mossback, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to lay out the context surrounding the Black exodus to Victoria and key figures in that history, including one who had a significant impact on the city of Seattle. Plus, we hear about one of the only known examples of the Underground Railroad in the Pacific Northwest.
For more on all things Mossback, visit crosscut.com/mossback. To reach Knute Berger directly, drop him a line at knute.berger@crosscut.com. And if you’d like an exclusive weekly newsletter from Knute, where he offers greater insight into his latest historical discoveries, become a Crosscut member today.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Story editors: Sara Bernard and Sarah Menzies

Putting the P in P-Patch

Friday Oct 20, 2023

Friday Oct 20, 2023

P-Patches launched a modern agricultural movement in the 1970s, sprouting from a small family farm in Wedgwood.
Seattle was once full of farms. But as the city developed, land-use regulation and other forces began to push farmers out. 
One farming family feeling the squeeze in Seattle in the 1970s helped launch a program that has had a profound impact on the city ever since. A piece of their land became the first of what is now a collection of about 90 public urban gardens, or “P-Patches.”
Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger dug into this history and what it represents in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there is a lot more left to unearth. 
In this episode of Mossback, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to discuss Seattle’s early efforts at farm-to-table living, how the rise of supermarkets and other economic forces almost derailed them, the details of the first P-Patch and what these popular gardens now symbolize in an ever-changing city.
For more on all things Mossback, visit crosscut.com/mossback. To reach Knute Berger directly, drop him a line at knute.berger@crosscut.com. And if you’d like an exclusive weekly newsletter from Knute, where he offers greater insight into his latest historical discoveries, become a Crosscut member today.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Story editors: Sara Bernard and Sarah Menzies

Friday Oct 13, 2023

The North Cascades' bear population thrived in the 19th century, but now almost none are left. Advocates are working to bring them back.
The iconic grizzly bear once roamed the North Cascades. Grizzly bones have also been found as far west as Whidbey Island. Today, however, there are almost no grizzlies left in Washington state. 
Some government agencies have started the process of potentially reintroducing the bears to the region, given their history as a key part of the ecosystem. This idea, however, isn’t without controversy. 
Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger dug into this history and controversy in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there’s more left to explore.
In this episode of Mossback, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to ask what evidence we have of grizzlies in Washington’s historical record, why the bears have mostly disappeared and why some want to bring them back. Plus, Berger and Hegg offer some sound advice on bear etiquette. 
For more on all things Mossback, visit crosscut.com/mossback. To reach Knute Berger directly, drop him a line at knute.berger@crosscut.com. And if you’d like an exclusive weekly newsletter from Knute, where he offers greater insight into his latest historical discoveries, become a Crosscut member today.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Story editors: Sara Bernard and Sarah Menzies

Friday Oct 06, 2023

In 1924, four airplanes took off from what’s now Magnuson Park. Six months and more than 26,000 miles later, half the fleet made it back.
The 1920s marked an era of aviation. After World War I, many powerful nations focused on the new technology and rushed to be the first to use it to circumnavigate the globe.
In 1924, the U.S. military selected eight Army pilots and four specially made biplanes with open-air cockpits to make that first attempt. The pilots were called “the Magellans of the Sky” after the celebrated 16th-century explorer who tried the same feat on the sea. Their official launch site? The shores of Sand Point, or what’s now Magnuson Park in Seattle. 
Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger shone a light on these lesser-known Magellans in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there’s more left to highlight. 
In this episode of Mossback, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to dig deeper into the reasons behind the attempt, the physical dangers and geopolitical challenges the pilots faced, the flight’s global significance and its relationship to Boeing. They also discuss the Centennial Celebration that will mark the anniversary of the flight in 2024, exactly where the planes launched and landed a century ago. 
For more on all things Mossback, visit crosscut.com/mossback. To reach Knute Berger directly, drop him a line at knute.berger@crosscut.com. And if you’d like an exclusive weekly newsletter from Knute, where he offers greater insight into his latest historical discoveries, become a Crosscut member today.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Story editors: Sara Bernard and Sarah Menzies
Executive producer: Sarah Menzies

Thursday May 25, 2023

The millionaire built a 'castle' on the Columbia River and later a replica of the English monument.
The Stonehenge that sits atop Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, has long inspired speculation of its purpose and imitators to its form. One of those imitators overlooks the Columbia River in Washington state where it inspires questions: Who built the replica and why?
The answer to the first part of that question is Samuel Hill, a wealthy railroad man who marveled at the landscape the abutted the river and who enjoyed building things out of concrete, including the replica and roads.
In a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, Knute Berger tells the story of Sam Hill and his concrete curiosity overlooking the Columbia.
But there is more to the story. For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger and co-host Stephen Hegg explore the origins of the monument and attempt to answer the second part of the question: Why?
Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about Samuel Hill and his Stonehenge here.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten

Thursday May 18, 2023

For decades, department stores competed for customers. Knute Berger recalls how Frederick & Nelson lured them in with a chocolate mint truffle.
Food does more than feed us. It connects us, to each other, to traditions and to place. This is true everywhere, but especially in the Pacific Northwest, where an abundance of life creates endless options for indulgence. 
Salmon, apples and even chicken teriyaki all have a spot in the hearts of Northwesterners, but there is one delectable that seems to inspire a particularly intense and mouthwatering nostalgia: the Frango.
Host Knute Berger and Stephen Hegg discussed the Seattle-made chocolate treat in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series. But there is more to the story.
For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger and co-host Stephen Hegg dig into the origin and cultural impact of the Frango. They discuss how the chocolate mint truffle was a part of a larger department-store culture that shaped the rituals of the region for many, and they explore some of the other sweets created here.
Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about Frangos and other Northwest delights here.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten

The Naked Truth of Nature Man

Thursday May 11, 2023

Thursday May 11, 2023

Earnest Darling was a regular Northwestern kid until an illness inspired him to shed his clothes and take to the woods. Fame followed.
On the desk of Crosscut's resident historian Kute Berger sits a black-and-white photograph of a man with a kind of contemporary look. He is standing, bearded, in what looks like a tropical setting. And he’s wearing a mesh crop top. 
This is Earnest Darling and the photo, surprisingly, was taken in 1908. "He looks like someone I went to college with at the Evergreen State College in 1972," says Berger. 
Darling did go to college, at Stanford University, but dropped out and became a wanderer in a loincloth, living off the land, inspiring numerous newspaper articles and even striking up a friendship with adventurer and author Jack London. 
In a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, Berger tells the story of Darling and his rise to fame as an early-20th century curiosity. 
But there is more to the story. For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to discuss Darling's origins, his various sojourns and the difficulties the proto-hippie faced as he challenged the conventions of his time.
Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about Earnest Darling here.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten
 

When Holllywood Came to Seattle

Thursday May 04, 2023

Thursday May 04, 2023

When a film is shot in a city, it is often a big deal. There are lots of trucks, lots of crew and lots of traffic disruption. It’s big business, and for the latter decades of the 20th century it was business that was often done in Seattle.
Tugboat Annie, the first Hollywood film shot in the Emerald City, came to town in the 1930s. But it wasn’t until the early ’60s that Seattle really became a destination for directors and actors. It started with the Elvis Presley vehicle It Happened at the World’s Fair and continued with The Parallax View and Scorchy in the ’70s up to Singles and Sleepless in Seattle in the ’90s.
Crosscut's resident historian Knute Berger reviewed this filmography in a recent episode of his Mossback's Northwest video series, but there is much more to explore. 
For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger and co-host Stephen Hegg talk about the movies made in and about Seattle, why Hollywood came to the city to make them and what these films tell us about how people outside of Western Washington see the city. 
Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about movies made in Seattle here.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten

Thursday Apr 27, 2023

During the timber boom, opportunists turned the remains of old-growth trees into homes and postcard spectacles.
The timber boom of the early 20th century reshaped both the places and the population of the Pacific Northwest. At one point, 63 percent of wage earners in Washington were drawing a paycheck from the industry that was felling the old-growth forests to produce lumber and profits.
The remains of those trees – their massive, imposing stumps – served as a kind of cultural signifier for the people and an inspiration for their creativity and ingenuity. Images of stumps as homes, dance floors and stages for feats of derring-do proliferated. 
Crosscut's resident historian told the story of these gargantuan stumps in a recent episode of his Mossback's Northwest video series, but there is much more to explore. 
For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger and co-host Stephen Hegg talk about the outsized influence of these stumps on the region’s early settlers. They discuss the reasons the stumps were so high, the photographers who made them famous and the long-term effects of the destruction that created them.
Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about the stumps here.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten

Thursday Apr 20, 2023

Decades after the Civil War, southern sympathizers sought to rewrite history. Knute Berger explains how those efforts were received in the Northwest.
When Gone With the Wind premiered in Seattle in 1940, it was an event. Moviegoers who ventured Downtown to attend a showing of the Civil War drama were met with fanfare. The street outside The 5th Avenue Theatre, where the film was playing, was decorated as if for a Fourth of July parade, with one notable exception: the presence of Confederate flags. 
These flags could be seen in brief footage of Downtown that was featured in an earlier episode of the Mossback's Northwest video series about the Seattle Freeze. And while the production team didn't notice, viewers did. 
In a recent episode of Mossback’s Northwest, Knute Berger and producer Stephen Hegg discuss the feedback and the historical investigation that followed. But there is still more to the story.
For this episode of the Mossback podcast, both Berger and Hegg discuss changing attitudes toward the Confederacy and toward race in Seattle as our city’s Southern sympathizers attempted to rewrite the narrative of the Civil War.
Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about the Confederacy in the Northwest here.
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Credits
Hosts: Stephen Hegg, Knute Berger
Producer: Seth Halleran
Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten

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Into the Deep Moss 

For years, Knute Berger has shared his unique view of Pacific Northwest history through his Mossback’s Northwest video series. Now, fans can go deeper into the moss through this weekly podcast. Hosted by Sara Bernard (This Changes Everything), each episode of this series will feature an interview with Berger about one episode of the video series. The podcasts will provide stories and factoids that were left on the cutting room floor, along with critical analysis from Berger and a greater context that will stitch each topic into the long, storied history of the Pacific Northwest.

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