The year in review: Top 5 stories of 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, here’s a look back at the five most read stories of the year.

5. Why these Seattle-area cavers squeeze through tiny holes to crawl into damp spaces

(Martha Kang/KPLU)

(Martha Kang/KPLU)

It’s the rare person who sees a hole in the ground and feels compelled to stick his head in it.

But cavers are “innately curious,” says veteran caver Tom Evans, who himself will not only peer in, but try to squeeze his whole body through a just-big-enough opening into Earth’s damp, dark underbelly.

What lies beneath that calls to these cavers to contort their bodies, risking injury, and go crawling in? Evans offered to show me first-hand, so I joined him and three other members of the Cascade Grotto, the local chapter of the National Speleological Society, on a recent visit to a cluster of caves near Snoqualmie Pass.

4. With second dam nearly gone, new era blossoming on the Elwha River

Courtesy of John Gussman

Courtesy of John Gussman

The slow-motion demolition of two hydroelectric dams on the Elwha River is radically changing the landscape near Port Angeles, but it’s not a scene you can witness on your own.

Just a handful of dedicated photographers and filmmakers have been given permission to place their cameras at key posts near the Glines Canyon Dam to capture the changes as crews of skilled technicians carefully notch into the concrete walls and place dynamite in just the right places.

3. Why this nature builder says round homes are better than square ones

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When SunRay Kelley starts building a home, he doesn’t always know how it will end up looking. But his trademark style has a few recurring traits: tree stump foundations, soft curves in place of sharp corners and, adorning the exterior, accents of swirling curlicues.

“Whimsical is maybe a good word,” said Kelley, describing his style. “Definitely fairy tale-type stuff.”

A walk around his nine-acre homestead in Sedro-Woolley feels like a journey to the land of make-believe. Eight Kelley-built homes sit sprawled on the land his grandparents homesteaded in 1920.

2. Photos: How western Washington lived during the Great Depression

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As America struggled in the throes of the Great Depression, a team of photographers was dispatched across the country to capture moments of their lives.

A search of photos taken in Washington state yielded a glimpse into what HistoryLink describes as a time when “virtually every sector of the economy was hit.”

1. Cross-time photos show snapshots of Seattle’s past and present, side by side

(Courtesy of Clayton Kauzlaric)

(Courtesy of Clayton Kauzlaric)

If Seattle’s streets could talk, they’re likely to tell you the stories depicted in Clayton Kauzlaric’s photos.

Kauzlaric uses Photoshop to juxtapose archival photos with present-day images of the same location.

Since he began the “Then & Again” project a year ago, Kauzlaric has completed some 30 images so far. One depicts the city’s Depression-era Hooverville, which housed some 1,000 residents at its peak, on the Seattle waterfront, just across the Alaskan Way viaduct from CenturyLink.

“The fact it’s gigantic and that it lingered for a decade is hard to imagine today,” Kauzlaric said.

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