"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.

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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.

13 February 2018

❖ TWO MAP MAKERS ❖ 1946 with author/historian June Burn

Day 78
Shaw Island
San Juan Archipelago, WA.

Mapmaker Helene Graham
A Wellesley College graduate who moved to Squaw Bay,
Shaw Island, the year of this photo in 1941.

Many years later, after at least one major renovation,
 the pioneer home was moved along the narrow road &
 across the cow pasture to Our Lady of the Rock Monastery.
Helene's first map was a sculpted version
of San Juan Archipelago,
as seen here photographed by
June Burn for her article, Day 78
of One Hundred Days in the San Juans
for the Seattle-P-I, published 1946.
Mildred Winter and I drive down a good graveled road back to the south shore of Shaw Island to visit the Grahams, to see her map. It is like the deep faraway countryside in here, no water visible anywhere, the little schoolhouse, where only two children go to school this year, standing all by itself in the woods.
       Some of the farms are enclosed by extra high fences against deer––a pest on this island, too.
      In no time at all, we swing down to Squaw Bay and stop in front of a yard so trim and tidy you would know it belonged to a civil engineer. Mr. Erret Graham is a retired railroad engineer from Indiana.
      You can tell how he loves this place, every stick of driftwood, every blade of grass. His woodshed is stacked with beach-combed sticks and more of them make a precise pile on the front porch. His workroom is filled with maps of the islands, detailed property maps a-making under his hand now, for he still surveys land [for San Juan County.] 
      From Mr. Graham's notes copied from the government survey of 1874, I learn that there were twelve families on Shaw at the time ( who were home at the time.) Oliver O' Hara was one of them. This Squaw Bay used to be called O' Hara Cove.
      Julien Laurence is mentioned as living on Blind Bay near where the Griswolds now live, Mr. Priceman near the present store on Blind Bay, Capt. C. C. Reed near where Dan Huff lives now. Who were the other settlers?
      Mrs. Helene Graham's map is here. This is what I came to see. Built up with contour sections of paper, thickened with a kind of rubbery plaster, the islands lie there as fat and sassy as if the tides washed there twice a day, too.
      Elevations are magnified four times to give them the look they have in life.
      Such gifted people on this small island. Busy creating beautiful things, their own orchardy place one of them. Old man O' Hara, your place has fallen into good hands.
      Mildred and I set out again, drive around another road back to the Biendls [John and Ruth.] Trees almost meet overhead.
      Thus in two days and two nights we have been clean around Shaw Island's 7.7 sq. miles.
      The 1874 government survey notes say that "the island contains sufficient good land for small farms but the larger portion is only good for sheep pastures." But McLellan, who gave it more study says it is the most heavily wooded of all the San Juan Islands.
      Shaw was named by the Wilkes Expedition in 1841 for a naval captain, John D. Shaw. Thirty families live here now--about 75 people in all. "People are going and coming so fast, it is hard to keep up with them," according to Mabel Crawford.
      The first Euro-American child was Emily Shaw Hudson, but she isn't an old woman by any means.
      The third and fourth and sometimes fifth generations of families which settled and left property and progeny are here now, recorded pioneers for researchers a hundred years hence!
      Goodbye, kind Mildred, Mrs. Ruth Biendl, and your beautiful farm. Goodbye, Shaw Island and all your friendly community. I climb and slide and almost don't get down this high bluff in a new place to find Farrar and the boat at the foot. It is lunchtime, but there's a breeze going our way. We'll sail and nibble as we sail--we're always eating!
      As we edge out from shore we look back down Blind Bay at the settlement built around that curve.
      "Now, we're leaving Shaw Island." I say and of course, Farrar says, "Oh, pshaw." (He can't help it.)
      See you tomorrow. June
Above words from Day 78 of 100 Days in the San Juans written by June Burn, for a series on contract with the Seattle P-I newspaper, 1946.

1946, May: Helene's well-known husband, Mr. Erret Graham, into his second career as an engineer, first began stamping his SJC survey papers this year with his new official seal, Prof. Eng #2081. For more local knowledge on the highly regarded, Old Town-canoeing-surveyor of San Juan County please see another Saltwater People post HERE

Shaw Island map (c. 18" x 24") drawn & 
hand-colored by the designer,
 Helene Graham, as a welcome gift for new residents.

The inscribed names are gone from the scene but at least
nine families have descendants still part of Shaw life,
one-half century later.
Click image to enlarge.
Map from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Circa one decade after the publication of this article by June Burn, Mrs. Graham centered her artistic talents on paper maps to document the property owners living on Shaw Island, as seen above. In 1959, Erret wrote in his diary that Helene had an original hand-drawn copy, done to a scale of 1' = 1200', prepared to mail to the Royal Blue Print Co in Seattle. The first print run was only ten copies but over the next several years she updated the landowners and hand-colored scores of maps to share as welcome gifts to new islanders and many friends throughout the county. There are still versions gracing the walls of island homes. 
      Helena taught mapmaking to the local Camp Fire Girls under the leadership of Gwen Yansen. She also lent a hand to Claire Tift and Earl Hoffman, sons of pioneers, when they were compiling the descriptive "Shaw Island of 1900 Map" sometimes on view in the Shaw Island Historical Museum.
      The fine contour map sculpted by Helene Graham (1881-1970) was donated to the Shaw Island Historical Museum in the 1990s by her scientist son, Ernest. Graham, also of Shaw Island. One of the property owners hand-colored maps has also been archived.

06 February 2018

❖ SCAYLEA: 50 YEARS of Honest History Records

Josef Scaylea
Courtesy of Josef Scaylea.com
Josef Scaylea spent a half-century photographing the scenery and faces that make the Northwest a rich, diverse place.
      His work behind the camera included 35 years at the Seattle Times, most as chief photographer, seven books, and more than 1,000 photography awards.
      I was highly overrated," Mr. Scaylea said in an interview, the twinkle in his eye indicating he was at least half-kidding. "I was very fortunate."
      So, too, were readers of The Seattle Times, where Mr. Scaylea's work, beginning in 1947, helped to bring magazine-style photography into weekend sections, onto the front page and, for years, onto a designated picture page.
      "Most any photograph can look good if you blow it up to eight columns," Mr. Scaylea joked.
Josef Scaylea
Loved to capture life below the
Montlake Bridge, Seattle, WA.
Dated August 1950

Low res scan from an original photograph from
the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

      Those who knew Mr. Scaylea best credit his success to the dedication and hard work, not luck. Luck couldn't account for being named West Coast Photographer of the Year 10 times, and being named one of the 10 top Press Photographers of the Nation––also 10 times.
      He pioneered pictorial photography and portrait photography for us," said James B. "Jim" King, retired Times executive editor. "He would go on a pictorial shoot and he would be given two or three days. People would say, 'Where's Joe?' But he would always bring back something great."
      Raised in South Glastonbury, Connecticut farmland by Italian-born parents, Mr. Scaylea developed an interest in photography as he wandered the hills and fields, captivated by the interplay between weather and terrain. Dense, textured clouds were among his favorite features.
      After attending a photography school in New York, he found that with a large number of photo-oriented magazines and trade publications in those days, markets were plentiful for photographers.
Lake Washington 
Josef Scaylea
Black tug, orange trim, 13 April 1952.
Click image to enlarge.
Low res scan from an original photo from the archives
of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      "Every big company had its own magazine. I did some work for Ford Times. You take a scenic photograph, and if they threw a new Ford in with it, that would help."
      Drafted into the military two days after the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 Dec 1941, Mr. Scaylea shot aerial battles in the Pacific for the Army Air Corps, footage over Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines that continues to show up in television documentaries. Stationed at Paine Field and Moses Lake, WA he discovered the great Northwest, vowing to make it home. He never left his Northwest home until he died at age 91.
      One Seattle Times photo that helped put Mr. Scaylea on the map was an overhead view of the UW crew team, shot from the Montlake Bridge. Look magazine named it the 1954 "Sports Photograph of the Year."
      Other magazines that published his work include Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post.
      Mr. Scaylea had suffered from heart disease and told friends that he had enjoyed his life and was ready to let go. And he demanded of a reporter "Don't make me look like a saint."
      Interpreting that remark, Mr. Scaylea's friend, nurse, driver, and business partner Jill Bennett said, "One could say that Josef's 'sainthood' was focused on shooting a technically precise and keenly interesting picture. He loved his subjects; he loved the Northwest. He was an eccentric––full of charm and an impatience for the ordinary."
Salmon fishing seiner near Pt. Roberts, WA.
Josef Scaylea
October 1979

Low res scan of an original photograph from the
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Although he photographed many scenes and circumstances, Mr. Scaylea said he never enjoyed photographing celebrities and avoided it as much as possible. 'I wanted to show real people; a farmer in the Palouse, a horse breaker in the Yakima Valley, a Scandinavian fisherman."
Portrait of Capt. Adrian Raynaud
Falls of Clyde in background, Seattle, WA.
Dated 1963
By Josef Scaylea.

Low res scan from an original photo from the
Saltwater People Historical Society©


      In recent years, Bennett drove Mr. Scaylea to some of his favorite spots so he could continue to photograph them even as his health declined. We'd take trips to the Skagit every spring. Grayland in the summer. Leavenworth in the fall. He'd always say on the way; 'This year's going to be my last trip here.' He said that every year, every trip."
      And he loved to pass along this bit of wisdom to people both in and out of photography; "There are no great photographers," he'd say, "There are only great subjects."
Words by Jack Broom. Seattle Times, 21 July 2004, on the occasion of Scaylea's death at age 91 years. Photograph source as noted.



01 February 2018

❖ With McDonald at the Patos Island Light Station ❖ 1959

Patos Island Light Station,
an active aid to navigation in the San Juan Islands.
Active Cove is a favorite anchorage of fishermen and
yachtsmen and the historic place for unloading supplies
from the Coast Guard vessels. 

Photograph by the US Coast Guard.
Patos Island was discovered by a Spanish explorer in 1791. We trailed local author June Burn when she visited the island for an article for her 100 Days in the San Juans series for the Seattle P-I in 1946. Let's return with well-known historian/journalist Lucile McDonald when she stopped to visit the resident Coast Guard crew manning the station in the summer of 1959.

 "The island was named Patos, meaning "ducks," in 1791 by a rain-drenched Spanish explorer trying to pilot his schooner through the tidal currents in the southern reaches of Georgia Strait.
      Patos, northernmost of the San Juan Islands, is known to most boaters as the site of the lighthouse, the most important one in the archipelago. Though its lantern is of the fourth order (40,000 candlepower) and only 38' above the ground, it is a beam visible to southbound mariners for a long distance.
      Since the entire island on which the beacon stands is a lighthouse reserve, there are no other occupants of its 206 acres. A lone cabin is said to have stood in the woods near the east end years ago, a relic of an elderly squatter. No trace of his house remains.
      Patos Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1893 and rebuilt in 1908. A radio beacon was installed by the Coast Guard in 1937 and the station's fog signal was modernized in 1958.
      New living quarters went up in 1958 where the garden for the keepers' two-story duplex had been. The old house was torn down and now the four coastguardsmen residing at Patos have the most modern apartments of any light station in WA. Two of the men of the crew like the island so well they are on their second tour of duty there.
      Patos most of the year has a pleasant climate and summer brings it, numerous visitors. Nearly 350 called last year, attracted by the sheltered anchorage in Active Cove, just south of the light.
      Active Cove was named for the first American survey vessel operating in these waters. Alden Point, where the lighthouse stands, was listed by that name on an 1858 chart in honor of Lieut. Alden, who commanded the steamship ACTIVE. 
      Government records show that the ACTIVE in 1853 conducted reconnaissance in WA Territory, chiefly in the Gulf of Georgia. She refueled at the Bellingham Bay and Nanaimo coal mines, receiving the cargo from Indian canoes at the latter place.
      The ACTIVE also was employed in Haro and Rosario Straits in 1854.
      In 1858 Alden and his ship were in the service of the Boundary Commission. This was the vessel's last season in the Puget Sound area.
      A part of the time a land party under James S. Lawson occupied a survey station on the east point of Patos Island. The steamship, meanwhile, made hydrographic studies along Canada's Saturna Island. Charts of that year labeled the Canadian Gulf Islands as part of the Washington Coast.
L-R: H. D. McDonald, Seattle, and
D. A. Nelson, engineman second class, USCG.
Hunting fossils in the sandstone of the
west side of Patos Island.

This photo is from the archives of the 
Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Alden's reconnaissance served for more than 100 years, except for some minor additions in 1891, when a formal survey was conducted. 
      This year the US Coast and Geodetic Survey is checking again, completing the resurvey of San Juan waters which began some years ago. Only the south end of Georgia Strait remains to be covered.
      Two members of a survey crew moved to Patos Island 1 May to operate a short-range electronic-control station here in conjunction with another at Point Roberts. The survey ship HODGSON also is working in the area.
      When the 1859 surveys are finished, tidal-current charts can be used for the entire San Juan Archipelago, an aid to small-boat navigation for which there have been many requests.
      Like other lighthouses, Patos maintains a guest book, which reflects the changes in social life at the station. Visitors are rare when the book began in 1895. They were limited mainly to inhabitants of nearby islands. Among the regular callers was the lightkeeper at East Point on Saturna Island, a beacon which antedates Patos.
       With last year's improvements, the old generators in the tower were removed and new ones were installed permitting the use of electrical appliances in the homes. 
      A major problem still to be solved is that of obtaining a supply of water. The well at the station became polluted several years ago when diesel oil tanks leaked into it.
      Part of the joy of living on the island is derived from the abundance of sea life found there. In spring the ground is carpeted with wildflowers. 
      Directly in front of the lighthouse are heavy tide rips and whirlpools, in contrast to the sheltered water of Active Cove. Both customs vessels and Coast Guard craft have lain in the tiny harbor in years past, waiting for smugglers rumored to be abroad.
      This little cove is a great asset to the light station. Minnie's Beach, at the east end, got its name from a lightkeeper's wife who liked to sun herself there.
      The cove was the scene of many episodes described by Helen Glidden in her book, The Light on the Island. The author's father was Edward Durgan, a keeper who moved with his wife and 13 children to Patos in August 1905. He already had lived at the lighthouse for a period some years earlier.
       In those days the place was extremely isolated and keepers rowed to the mainland or to Orcas Island to supply their needs. They were out of luck in emergencies. Three of the Durgan children died because of the difficulty in obtaining medical aid promptly.
       This can't happen today. A few weeks ago Mrs. C. P. Geer, wife of one of the keepers, caught a hand in her washing machine. A few minutes later a Navy helicopter from Whidbey Island landed behind the light, picked her up and transported her to Oak Harbor, where she transferred to an airplane and went to a Seattle hospital. She was back home before the day was over." 

1959, June: Above text was written by Lucile S. McDonald for the Seattle Times.
She wrote or co-authored 28 books; her archives have been donated to the Special Collections Division, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.


1974: The Light was automated.

1974: Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission began operating Patos Island as a State Park, under a lease from the Bureau of Land Management.
The 207-acre State Marine Park with 20,000 ft of saltwater shoreline is owned by the BLM. The State Parks maintains 2 mooring buoys and a 1.5-mi loop trail open year round, according to their website which can be viewed here

1977: The Patos Island Light Station was listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. 

2007: A Non-Profit Keepers of Patos Light was organized by two friends. Look at the work they have managed with a group of volunteers. 
Photographs from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©




30 January 2018

❖ FLOATING ACRE OF CONCRETE ❖ 1954

The largest concrete drydock built to date in the USA.
Seattle, WA. 1954.

Click image to enlarge.
Original wire photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Tugs slowly inch a huge 400-foot floating dry dock, made of enough concrete to cover an acre of ground five inches thick. Through the drawbridges in Seattle, en route to a shipyard for fittings. The $4,157,000 oceanic dock, the largest of its kind ever built in this country, will be turned over to the Navy after being outfitted with necessary equipment, including crew's quarters and gun emplacements.

25 January 2018

❖ FROM SCOTLAND FOR ROBBI BURNS DAY

S.S. CATALA
1925-1965.
1,476.83 G.t.
Built by Coaster Construction Co of Montrose, Scotland. 
 She was designed for Union Steamships, Ltd,  
steaming to work on the B.C. coast by 7/12/1925.
Photo postcard from the Clinton H. Betz collection,
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

S.S. CATALA operated passenger and freight service from Vancouver to Ocean Falls and Bella Coola. With other vessels of the Union Steamships the tramp steamer served many ports on the northern B.C. coast, stopping at logging camps and canneries. 

1962: After her long career she was purchased by Catala Enterprises, organized by the MacPherson real estate interests of Seattle & Gray's Harbor, WA. After a thorough refurnishing and interior renovations to 52 staterooms, a restaurant, and lounge which made her more luxurious than at any time in her long career, she was towed to Seattle arriving in April as the first of the hotel ships. Returns were disappointing and all 3 vessels withdrew before the end of the fair.* The CATALA was sold to California owners for use as a floating resort, but payments were not maintained.
1963:  She was reclaimed by MacPherson and returned to the PNW, being moored as a fisherman's hotel at Ocean Shores development on Gray's Harbor, her last stop.
Above text from H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Newell, Gordon, editor. 


The old and the new at the Ocean Shores Marina.
Photo by Kyle Smith.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©


On New Year's Eve in 1965, with 70-mile-an-hour winds, 
the good ship was driven ashore. She filled with sand  
and water and was a picturesque wreck. 
In 2001, the late historian Gene Woodwick reported that 
"a storm exposed the keel and frames of the CATALA so 
she could resume her service as a maritime relic."

Click to enlarge this photo by Dale Swanson.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

* According to the Gene Woodwick, all three ships acting as hotels for Seattle's World Fair stayed for the duration of the Fair with the CATALA being the only one to earn a profit.
Thanks to reader K Pool, click on this link for more information about this vessel.

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