"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.


About Us

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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

18 April 2017


Flags flying for her 1917 launch day at 
Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Co yard, Seattle, WA;
She was a Norwegian owned schooner
who got her photo in Jim Gibbs' West Coast Windjammers 
but that is the extent of our knowledge on this gal.

If you have any history on this schooner, please let us know, thank you.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Co was established in 1898 on Elliott Bay, Seattle. They built Harbor Island in Seattle in 1909; until 1938, it was the largest artificial island in the world.
PSB&DC also built the harbor of Pt. Townsend in 1931 and the first Lake WA floating bridge and Husky Stadium. 

10 April 2017


The below undated original photos are from one collection just archived from descendants of mariner, Harry D. Wilkins, who worked on the GOLIAH. No story came with the images other than a few short inscriptions on the back, but included below are some GOLIAH words from the historian/author Gordon Newell.  
ON 204800
414 G.t./221 N.t.
500 Ind. HP.
Owned at this time by Puget Sound Tug Boat Company.
ON 204801
414 G.t./ 221 N.t.
500 Ind. HP.
Built 1907, Camden, N.J.
According to Pacific Tugboats,
 she is GOLIAH'S sister ship who
towed her around Cape Horn from the east coast to CA.

"In many ways, Puget Sound's second GOLIAH was typical of the Northwest's big deep-water steam tugs, both in appearance and in the work she did. Built in 1907 by John Dialogue of Camden, N.J., the GOLIAH and her sister tug, HERCULES, were massive, powerful steel steamers, 151' long, 27.1' beam and 15.2' depth, with a speed of better than 13 knots.
      The two boats came to the West Coast, via Cape Horn, the HERCULES towing the GOLIAH, which was loaded with extra fuel for the HERCULES' boilers. In San Francisco they went to work for the Shipowners' and Merchants Tugboat Co, but in 1909 the Puget Sound Tug Boat Co sent Capt. Buck Bailey and port engineer J.F. Primrose to the Bay to have a look at the GOLIAH. Their report was enthusiastic and the PSCo bought her. Capt. T.H. Cann piloted her north from San Fran.
      Shortly after WW I, the GOLIAH returned to the East Coast, having been sold as the sailing-ship trade of the PSTBC diminished. During the years she operated in the Northwest she had the comfortable reputation of a 'lucky ship.' This in spite of the many hazardous exploits in which she engaged.
      In 1916, skippered by Capt. T. Nielsen, the GOLIAH snatched the disabled Norwegian freighter NIELS NIELSEN from almost certain destruction on the lee shore of Vancouver Island, a feat which has been vividly described by R.H. "Skipper" Calkins, in his book High Tide (1952.)
Photo inscribed:
"Ship REUCE in tow of tug GOLIAH,
bound for Chignik, AK.
A slight list to starboard;
in smooth water after 3 days of pounding.
If there is such thing as a 'Hoo-doo Ship',
this is it."

ON 110498
1,924 G.t./ 1,601 N.t. 
Built 1881 in Kennebunk, ME.
      One of the GOLIAH's specialties was the towing of big Cape Horn windjammers up the coast when they had a deadline charter to meet on the Sound. In January of 1914, the GOLIAH set a new speed record for herself by towing the big American square-rigged ship ARYAN from the Golden Gate to Victoria in 89 hours and 30 minutes. The ARYAN, last wooden square-rigger built in America, was a heavy-hulled cargo carrier due to load nearly two million feet of timber for south Africa, and tugboat men agreed that her fast trip north was quite an accomplishment, even for the GOLIAH.
Text on verso from this Wilkins collection:
"A more treacherous body
of water does not exist."

These photos were taken before Ripple Rock was
successfully drilled and blasted with dynamite in 1958.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      In June of the same year the GOLIAH set a new Alaska towing record, beating the one she had set two years earlier. Towing the barge JAMES DRUMMOND northbound and the barge ST. JAMES southbound, she completed the round trip between Seattle and Gypsum, AK.––1,900 miles––in 10 days and 12 hours. 
GYPSUM, Chichagof Island, near Iyoukeen Cove, AK.
A destination for part of GOLIAH'S work, as mentioned
in this piece by author Gordon Newell.
From the GOLIAH photo collection from the family of
mariner Harry D. Wilkins.

Original, undated photos from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Both barges were loaded to capacity, but in their younger days they had been noted clipper ships, their fine-lined hulls helping the powerful GOLIAH to set another towing record.      

      In October 1910, GOLIAH ran into bad luck while engaged in towing a big barge, with tragic results. At the time the tug was hauling rock from Waldron Island, in the San Juans, to Grays Harbor, where it was used in the construction of the jetties at Westport. A fleet of nine seagoing barges was used to transport the rock, all of them tripped-down sailing ships like the PALMYRA, BIG BONANZA, CORONDOLET, JAMES DRUMMOND, and ST. JAMES, all of the staunch and seaworthy, and all of well over a thousand tons register. The smallest of the fleet was the ex-schooner WALLACUT, built at Portland, OR, in 1898, and rated at 798 gross tons. This was the barge that GOLIAH was towing to Grays Harbor. The story of what happened is contained in a shipping bulletin datelined Port Townsend, 5 Oct. 1910:

      "The loss at sea of Andrew Henderson, aged 24, and Hans Christensen, aged 25, from the rock barge WALLACUT is the latest of the long list of casualties due to the gale in the North Pacific Sunday. The men were swept from the barge while it was in tow of the tug GOLIAH at six o'clock in the morning off Destruction Island, while the craft, deep-laden with stone for Grays Harbor jetty work, was contending against a sea so furious it seemed almost certain to cost the lives of the five men constituting the barge's crew.
      A report of the tragedy was brought here by Capt. John Jarman, master of the barge, whose command was forced to return to Neah Bay after vainly trying for 30 hours to cross the bar into Grays Harbor.
      A point near Grays Harbor Bar was eventually reached, the barge leaking badly, and under weather conditions that prevented making an effort to pass into Aberdeen. With this plan frustrated, the tug turned for a return course to the Sound. While Henderson was about to relieve Christensen at the wheel, a wave more furious than any of the others that had threatened to send the barge to the bottom, broke in a big curling comber over the weather rail, sending both men clear of the ship and into the sea. The accident was witnessed by Capt. Jarman and his two other sailors, but no aid could be given. 
      Capt. Jarman is a veteran on the North Pacific and describes the storm through which he passed as the most severe experienced in these waters."

      Capt. Buck Bailey, who was skipper of the GOLIAH that trip, was noted for laughing in the teeth of the North Pacific when it was in its worst moods, frequently taking whatever big PSTBC craft he was piloting into danger which kept all other deep-sea towboats safe at anchor. If he mis-calculated that time, at the cost of two lives, he made it up many times over in daring rescue operations which made him famous the whole length of the Pacific Coast. 

      At the termination of the Waldron Island rock-towing contract, the GOLIAH steamed down the coast to take her station off the Columbia River mouth. 
From the GOLIAH collection.
Possibly preparing for a pilot from the GOLIAH,
when the big tug was stationed off the Columbia Bar.

Undated original from the S.P.H.S.©
The Puget Sound Co. had decided to set up a pilotage and towing service there in opposition to the established bar tugs. The GOLIAH, with ample accommodations and oil tanks capable of stowing a month's supply of fuel, was well designed for such service, and she spent most of her time cruising off the lightship day and night, with her bar pilots aboard." Pacific Tugboats. Newell, Gordon. Superior Publishing. Pg 116-119.
Aboard the tug GOLIAH.
Unidentified mariner.
If you can identify this man, please let us know his name

for our history files.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

08 April 2017


Cypress Island, Skagit County, WA.
 after the wind gusts of 60 mph.
Courtesy of Lance A. Douglas,
from nearby Blakely Island, WA.

03 April 2017


Photograph by James A. Turner, Seattle.
Undated original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
This wooden steamer was built by John Martinolich (1877-1960) at Dockton, WA for passengers on the Washington Route of Capt. F.G. Reeve. 
Capt. F. G. REEVE
Aboard the CHIPPEWA
17 May 1939
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Gross tons 87; Net tons 49.
101.7' x 22.5' x 6.4'
Her 325 HP triple-expansion engine was originally in the INLAND FLYER. 
Dockton Drydock
A few years before the building of the F.G. REEVE.
Undated litho card from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
"The village of Dockton, located on Quartermaster Harbor, formed one of the first major settlements on Maury Island; an industrial center of the south Puget Sound for a brief period in the 1890s. Dockton was named by the Puget Sound Dry Dock Co which had a shipyard and drydock (the largest on the west coast) there from 1892 to 1909.
      The shipbuilding and repair activities continued at Dockton with the Stucky and Martinolich yards producing boats until 1929 when the Jane G, the last commercial boat built at Dockton, was launched.
      As shipbuilding began to decline after the dry dock moved in 1909, Dockton began a slow gradual transformation into the quiet backwater community it is today." From: Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association.

1922: F.G. REEVE, out of documentation.
1938: The F.G. REEVE was sold and her machinery & fittings were removed. The hull was abandoned in Lake Union.
1950s: During this decade, Cleo Crawford of Shaw Island, saw the vessel getting closer to the ship breakers and talked Foss Tug into towing the hull to the mud in front of the Crawford home in Blind Bay, San Juan Islands. It is not known what plans Cleo had in mind, but the vessel rotted away there, visible for many years along the eastern shore just south of the State ferry landing. 
      Not much of a story for the short life of the F.G. REEVE. If you have more feel free to contribute.

31 March 2017

❖ CABIN BOY LANDS AT AMERICAN CAMP, Company D, 9th Infantry. ❖

Author/historian Lucile McDonald interviews William Rosler of Friday Harbor, 1960.
San Juan Island, WA.
Officer's quarters; commanding officer's home; 
suspected married soldier's quarters. 
According to author, one building is believed to be 
the camp hospital. A blockhouse overlooked the 
front entrance to the encampment.
Unknown artist.
Sketch archived with BC Archives, Victoria.
Photo print from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Rabbit hunters from the mainland who visit San Juan Island had been making a shambles of the monuments at historic American Camp, relic of the 'Pig War' days of the 1800s when American and British troops jointly occupied the island.
      The three monuments in the park were pock-marked and chipped and the inscription plates had been bruised by bullets.
      San Juan County authorities did not like what had happened to their landmark, but the site was where the 'wild' rabbits congregated in greatest numbers.
      William Rosler of Friday Harbor, son of Christopher Rosler, one of Capt. George Pickett's soldiers who helped build American Camp, remembered when there were no rabbits to shoot on San Juan.
William Rosler, age 81 years.
son of Christopher Rosler,
a soldier at American Camp, 
San Juan Island, WA.
Photo dated 1960.
Original photo from S.P.H.S.© 

      'We used to hunt 'coon when I was a boy,' Rosler said.
      Rosler is the only first-generation descendant of the 'Pig War' soldiers in the islands. His father, who died in 1907, was the last survivor of the original garrison. His mother died two years later.
      Rosler, at 81, has a keen memory.
      'My father was a subject of the Duke of Hesse until he changed his citizenship. See, that's what it says on this paper.'
      Rosler displayed a declaration of intention to become an American citizen, sworn to at Port Townsend in Feb 1861, by his father.
      'Dad came to the US from Germany as cabin boy on a ship when he was 14. He worked for an uncle who was a shoemaker in New York. Dad wanted to go west to the gold fields and the only way he knew to do it without money was to enlist. Instead of stopping in California, the troops were sent to Steilacoom. Dad got shot in the arm during an Indian-war skirmish. He was shipped to Fort Bellingham under Captain Pickett and from there to San Juan.
      'After five years in the service, Dad was discharged from Company D, 9th Infantry, on the island. He took a soldier's homestead close to the camp. The first work he did was to haul wood for the fort. He kept on doing it until the troops left in 1873.
      B.C. Gillette owned the right to the adjoining homestead at American Camp and my father bought his preemption.'
      Rosler has the two patents among his papers, one dated 1873 and the other ten years later.
      The original log house on the homestead burned and was replaced with a frame one.
      Bill's mother was an Indian, born at Fort Simpson, BC, in 1846. Her family moved to Griffin Bay, north of the military post in 1861, and she was married to Rosler a year later, while he still was in the Army.
      Her people had a village––at least 20 families––not far from my father's homestead,' Bill Rosler recalled.
      When I was a kid most of American Camp was standing. I used to play in the old buildings.'
American Camp, San Juan Island, WA.
According to the author, who interviewed oldtimers,
the highest part of this barn served as hospital

 for the US Army encampment.
Date of photo suspected to be before her visit in 1960.

Photographer unknown.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Some of the elder Roslers' house furnishings were obtained from the camp when it was discontinued.
      Rosler told how certain geographical points on the island got their names. He said as a child he used to pick up spent bullets on Bald Hill, where soldiers held target practice. 
Spent lead bullets (7/8" long) and one musket ball found
in the sand dunes of American Camp in c. 1968.
They were left
behind by the US soldiers target practising,
as mentioned by Mr. Rosler, in this interview by L. McDonald.

Now the land is protected as a National Park.
Thank you T.M.
The soldiers stopped on these expeditions at a little island in Griffin Bay and ate their lunch. Ever after it was called Dinner Island.
      Chicken Rock, near Cattle Point, Rosler recalled, was named because of the wreck of a small boat with a load of chickens.
      'Fish Creek, once was called God's Pocket. It was where smugglers hid. Nobody seems to remember that Pear Point was formerly Barrel Point, because of a barrel found there. North Star Rock, also near Griffin Bay, got its name from a boat carrying cattle that was wrecked on it. The animals drowned and floated ashore. Father said he helped to skin them.'
      As part of his duties, the elder Rosler cared for the horses at American Camp. One time he went out to the pasture, wolves took after him. In the early period of the island settlement, many wolves were seen and hunting had a more serious aspect than in modern times.
      Rosler remembers when in summer months Indians camped on the coves and there was a big 'rancheree' at Kanaka Bay in fishing season and another large camp of British Columbia Indians at Deadman's Bay.
     'They came to dry fish and clams and get ready for winter.' Rosler said. 'They used everything they caught. They had to work for it wasn't like playing at hunting rabbits.'"
The above text from The Seattle Times 20 Nov. 1960.

1887: American Camp Color.
"Some thirty of the garrison at the American Camp on San Juan Island have been on the search for the last four days for a notorious character, who formerly dabbled in quartz in Victoria. If Captain Gray finds the "Doc", a ball and chain will grace his 'comely' person for at least one calendar month. He is charged with killing other people's cattle, and using the proceeds for his own benefit."
Puget Sound Gazette. April 1867

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