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Looking back on the 1979 solar eclipse in Goldendale, Washington

Photos released by MOHAI show the Central Washington town during the last Northwest eclipse

All images courtesy of MOHAI, Seattle P-I Collection

With the 2017 solar eclipse fast approaching, it’s a good time to take a look at the last eclipse to include the Pacific Northwest in its path of totality: February 26, 1979.

“The 1979 eclipse wasn’t total in Seattle,” University of Washington astronomy professor Bruce Balik told us, although it got closer: “it was in Portland, Mt. Rainier, Goldendale, and Yakima.”

The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) has released a series of photographs from the Seattle PI collection of eclipse revelers at one of those locations, Goldendale—in the path of totality in 1979 and conveniently featuring both a Stonehenge replica and a hilltop observatory.

As with the 2017 eclipse, which is sending an estimated 1 million tourists into the Oregon borders, people flocked to the Pacific Northwest to catch a glimpse, although some say 1979 wasn’t quite the same event as the eclipse coming up next week.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm in 1979, but it wasn’t nearly as widespread as today,” Bryan Brewer, author of Eclipse: History. Science. Awe. told the Seattle Times earlier this summer. “The level of interest is just increasing exponentially as you get closer to the day.”

Still, the subjects of the 1979 photographs seem more than excited. Decked out in outdoor gear and peering through paper eclipse glasses, these photos seem like almost a preview of what many in the Pacific Northwest will look like come August 21.

At the time, the Times reported, Goldendale was host to what was called the largest neo-pagan gathering in North American history.

In one last photograph, a man peddles “canned dark”—“from the total solar eclipse” and “gathered from Goldendale, Washington”—for “only $1.00.” (That’s around $3.50 today, big spenders.)

For next week’s eclipse, Goldendale won’t get quite as much of a show—about 98 percent, according to Vox’s tracker—but will still get closer to totality than Seattle’s 92 percent or so.

Museum of History & Industry

860 Terry Avenue North, , WA 98109 Visit Website