"The cure for anything is salt water––sweat, tears, or the sea."
Isak Dinesen

LOG OF THE SALTWATER PEOPLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY



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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 400, 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.

25 May 2016

The Island Where People Cooperate––June Burn 1946

There are many readers interested in June Burn stories so allow us another before we return to the moldy, oldie maritime history of steamboats, tall ships and tugs. 

One Hundred Days in the San Juans
Day 75: Shaw Island
McLachlan Place, Pole Pass, Orcas Island,
San Juan Archipelago, WA.
We left McConnell Island before breakfast, caught the ebb for Pole Pass once more where Seattle friends were camped for 2 weeks in one of Kirk McLahlan's beach cabins, breakfasted with them and set off again across channel for Shaw Is., the hub of this great San Jan Archipelago.
      There was a fog early that morning. It cocooned us into a tiny sleeping bag of a world, not another soul on earth, no sound except the steady clack of our oars as be both rowed. The water was so still the drops from the oars would roll away like marbles on a table. The suction holes the oars made as they dipped would swing behind us for a considerable distance before leveling out. After a while the ferry came along Wasp Passage and our world opened up again. Presently it included Crane Island and Orcas, then the familiar beach at Pole Pass and soon afterwords the people there.
      "This is all there is, there ain't any more," Farrar keeps saying.
      He said it of the fog this morning and of friends at McConnell, at Reef, then at Pole Pass. He says it as we draw out into the mouth of West Sound, heading for Shaw Island.
Blind Island, San Juan Islands, WA.
Original photo dated 1967.
The Fox family has vacated;
then the place was vandalized.
Click to enlarge.

      And here, in Blind Bay, on the north shore of Shaw, is small Blind Island where dogfish livers first yielded up their oil––on Puget Sound, at least. The Fox brothers of Bellingham, [WA] first began to extract dogfish oil many years ago and to sell it for its vitamin content long before it was sold regularly in the stores. They lived and worked here on Blind Island and, indeed, may still do so. Somebody lives here now.
      The houses on Blind Island are grayed and weathered. The orchard consists of three fruit trees, the garden of onions and kale and a few other things. There is some grass, one Madrona bush, a few Scotch brooms and not much else.
      Yet there is a strong excitement about the windy isle, so bare, so rocky and steep and bold. It commands its share of view! Orcas Village across Harney Channel, far up West Sound, all around the enclosed bay to the shores of Shaw, the pretty settlement of houses and farms there, and always the changing water and sky blending with time to make the dream we call living. I can see living on two and a quarter acres of rock! We lunched there,  on hoecake, butter and tea.
Admiral Rogers towed ashore in Blind Bay, 
San Juan Islands, WA.
Scan from an original photo by Jim Williamson, 1947.
One year following this June Burn article.
Click to enlarge.
      Once more we take up our long oars to row around the splendid curve of Blind Bay to the dock and store of Shaw Island. We pass the big old gray boat, the ADMIRAL ROGERS, which Mr. Salversen, formerly of Seattle, now of Shaw, intends to make into a summer resort. I hope he paints it in gay play-time colors first! It is drab now, uninviting. But with some dashing, even bizarre, treatments of paint it could become one of the jolliest places on the Sound––excuse me, I mean the archipelago. But it is no beauty right now, the big, hulking, gray, bob-tailed thing there on the beach!
      The Salvorsens have bought the old Griswold place––those Griswolds who, with the Hudsons, were among the earliest settlers of Shaw Island. The ones about whose well Herman Lutz once wrote that it now and then gave up blind fish. Mrs. Griswold, busy packing, confirms that, says that the fish are two or three inches long, without eyes altogether.
      We row across the bay, back-tracking to buy eggs from the handsome big Fowler chicken ranch and discover that many of them are double-yolkers that are fun to open.
      At last we draw up to what we discover is the Totten beach, next to the dock and warehouse of Shaw. Here is another place where you can take on gas and oil for your boats, [in this year of writing, but not now.]The station was put in this year, small Mabel [Fowler] Crawford to serve you.The store beyond is so tidy and clean it might be a sitting room, and with the colorful groceries, attractive, too. It is kept by the third generation of Shaw Island Fowler's, the same Mrs. Crawford who, with all her five feet of size, handles sacks of feed, cases of canned goods and cans of oil.
      And sure enough, Shaw Island still has its cooperative telephone! Put in a good many years ago at nominal cost to the settlers, plus work on the poles and lines, it used to cost them only $1 a year. Now it costs about $8 a year. Everybody is on the same line––two families of Clarks, Coppers, two Crawfords, the store, Dr. Ellis, two families of Fowlers, Gordon's, Graham's, Griswolds (now Salversens), Hoff, the Lutzes, Mathisens, McVeigh, Ralph's, Shaw's, Stitts, Winter, two families of Biendl, Holbrooks, and Schlotts and that is every family on Shaw except the Tottens, Federles, one Hoffman and O.H. Tracy who has his own line to the mainland. As we stop in the store, buying this and that, talking to Mabel Crawford and Mrs. Totten who lives nearby, that phone keeps ringing. You can feel the community that is Shaw Island there behind it, along its wires.
See you tomorrow. June.


17 May 2016

❖ A Village Full of Stories ❖ with June Burn in 1946

One Hundred Days in the San Juans. Day 60.

"This freight-piled bus running between Deer Harbor and Doe Bay is a perfectly grand way of getting to Eastsound. It stops at every store to unload. It swings round yellow fields, down into green valleys with the blue water shining through the trees every now and then. 
M.V. OSAGE
Launched at Reed's Yard, Decatur Island, 1930
Passenger, freight, mail boat from Bellingham through
the San Juan Islands.

Original photo by Jacobson from the archives of the S.P.H.S.




      Two other passengers, stopping at Madrona Inn in Eastsound, back from a trip on the OSAGE to Friday Harbor, make the trip more interesting.
      
Early West Sound, Orcas Island, WA.
Photographer unknown.

Click to enlarge.From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      Orchards and gardens everywhere, the blue gray stems of the fir trees standing along the roadside––we run along a road just out of the bluff on to West Sound. Big Double Island off to the right––two little rose bushes in a field by themselves, blooming away.
      Fields have such a lovely way of hedging themselves about with bushes and little trees where the plow doesn't go. The lines left in a hayfield after the mowing machine are just the most graceful things––the purple brown of a plowed field––a sloping pasture full of Queen Anne's lace that the farmer doesn't like but the passerby does––the way the mowing machine lines curve around the trees in an orchard!
      And here is huge East Sound which Mr. Davis says should be called Buck Bay, so blue, so blue!
View from Romance Rock at Waldheim Resort,
Eastsound, WA. by Ferdinand Brady (1880-1967,)
who at one time had his photo studio at Anacortes, WA.
Original from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
      At the top of the long sea, the white village of Eastsound is so still in the sunshine, the people seem to move around on tiptoe.
Templin Store, Eastsound, Orcas Island, WA.
Photo by islander Fred Darvill from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Here is the Templin store, first opened in 1896 by the family who still owns it. Here, Jessie Templin started the Orcas Island weaving project years ago and a little shop up on Constitution where hand-woven things were sold, in summer, here in the store in winter. "Everything from tractors to kiddie cars," someone said of the Templin store––and then arrived to find that they couldn't even get marshmallows and bacon in these days!
      There is an attractive hotel here––Outlook Inn––where Ken Crutcher exhibits his delightful water colors, one of them a clean view of the village on a white sunny day.
      
Eastsound, Orcas Island
by photographer Webber

click to enlarge.
Original from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Two garages, post office, telephone office, machine shop, electric supply store, a gas and oil supply, depot for boats, two churches, a high school and Darvill's Rare Print Shop make up the village proper.
      The summer resorts are all just outside the village, over some hill or down some point or along some beach.
      Darvill's is another of those astonishing places occasionally to be found in the islands. It is full of a lifetime's collection of really rare old prints, original oils, out-of-print law books. 'I always wanted to retire to a place where I could also carry on my business,' Fred Darvill says. Orcas is the place.
      This town fairly blooms with stories! There are old-timers all over the place. Mr. Luther Kimple himself of a pioneer family, has a wonderful memory for dates and facts. In his recollection, Belle Langell was the first child of both white parents born at Eastsound.
      The year 1820 is the first year Mr. Kimple ever heard any of the old-timers talk about as the time when the first hunters came here for the Hudson's Bay Company. Pioneers Mr. LaPlant and Mr. Verrier said their fathers came that early. But as everywhere over the islands, it wasn't until the 1850s that actual settling began, or that there is record of actual settling.
      Mr. Kimple agrees with Mrs. Freel that Mr. Willis came first in 1852 to hunt here for the H.B.C. Mike Adams, who came in 1860 or 1861, said he killed 2,100 deer one year and could have killed as many more if he could have found anybody to skin them. He used to say you could shoot against the side of the mountain and then go up and pick up the deer you had killed.
      The Peter Bostians came in 1882 with Alfred Hill, Mr. Randall, Michael Donohue. They came to Washington earlier, kept on coming to the islands to find a place where the woods weren't so thick. 'It'd scare a body to death to live in those dark woods of the mainland,' one of the women said. They came until they found Orcas Island, got here in a fierce northeaster. They remember there was a three-masted schooner abuilding at the waterfront of Eastsound. There were two docks here then and much activity all around the islands.
      In those days new arrivals put up at the Frye Hotel on the place owned, now, by Mr. Furrow. Mr. Kimple has a wonderful old picture of bearded pioneers in a row in front of the hotel called East Sound House. Mr. Frye is among them and Mr. Kimple can name each man of the 25 or 30 others.
See you tomorrow, June."
Words first published in a series of 100 articles under contract with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, WA. 1946.
Later compiled in a book published by Longhouse Printcrafters, Friday Harbor, WA. 


❖ 25 HALIBUT ❖

Captain Fritz Kragh,
TONGAS 
with a 350 pound North Pacific Halibut.
5 September 1930
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Twenty-five halibut, netted the fishing crew $7,000 at wholesale prices. That is the record of the smack TONGAS, that delivered its North Pacific catch at Seattle for shipment to New York.

2003: Crew of commercial vessel Miss Mary caught a halibut off St. Paul Island, AK that weighed in at 533 pounds.

2014: Jack McGuire of Anaheim, CA caught a 482 pound halibut in SE Alaska. The fish didn't get in the sport fishing record book because he needed help getting the fish on board.

06 May 2016

❖ LAKE UNION WITH SKEET'S FLEET and Company ❖ 1973

"Skeet's Fleet"
Lake Union, Seattle, WA.
Photo by Roy Scully 6 May 1973.

Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Click to enlarge.
"They are called "live-aboards." They happily reside in such varied craft as schooners, yawls, tugs, ferryboats, and a few floating structures that are impossible to define.
      Lake Union, with its wild mixture of rusting boats, industry, and quacking ducks is the common bond of the live-aboard. Sometimes banned by marine owners, looked upon as slightly 'kooky' by landlubbers and considered less stable than house-boaters, they wouldn't want to live any other way.
      The types and professions represented by live-aboards are as varied as the kinds of vessels they call home. Sharing a common love for the lake are retired sailors, sailmakers, hard-hat divers, fishermen, architects, artists and what are best described as 'waterfront rogues.'
      John Caldbick, resident of a barge-like affair with a tacked-on cabin, represents the younger element living in boats on the lake. Caldbick, a former United Press International writer, is now a U of WA student and is hoping to enter law school. He got his boat free.
      'A houseboat moorage was being dredged out and they told me I could have this boat, which was sunk in 10-feet of water, if I brought it up,' he explained.
      A huge pump, rented for $40, and the enlisted aid of a friend, netted him a new home. Since then he has done considerable work on the craft, making it extremely comfortable with a living area, galley, sleeping loft, and a tiny bath.
      He continued to live there because it provided the solitude he enjoyed and neighbors that are anything but dull.
      One of his neighbors is the colorful and well-known Skeet Kelley, a talented architect who lives a free-style life in what friends call 'Skeet's Fleet.' Presently, Kelley resides in an orange tugboat called LOUISE II right next to an old, but remodeled ferry called CONCORDIA.
      The list of Lake Union dwellers goes on and on. While they represent a wide spectrum of life styles, from luxurious yachts to cramped tugs, all share one basic philosophy. They live on boats in a cluttered and industrial lake because they want to. Getting there in the first place required too much effort to have it be anything but a labor of love.
      'I've maneuvered most of my life to get all my toys within walking distance,' said Dave Cookingham, relaxing in the cabin of his neat Bristol Bay boat on Lake Union.
Dave Cookingham's sleek Bristol Bay boat
is both his home and a way to make a living
as a marine surveyor. 
Photo by Roy Scully 6 May 1973.
Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      'Now I use my boat to work, a tavern is nearby for drinking, and Doc Freeman's (a popular marina and local gathering spot) is close. I don't even need a car.'
      Cookingham, who describes his previous life as being a 'white-collar migratory worker,' is not typical of Lake Union residents of vessels. Nobody is. But having lived aboard his SEA DRAGON for six years, he is able to make several definitive statements about his Lake Union neighbors.
      One thing is for certain, they are characters all. Colorful to the last degree, they differ considerably from their cousins across the lake, the house-boaters.
      'Speaking generally, you have several distinct groups that live in boats. There are the hippies, first of all. Then, you have the divorced fellow. There seems to be a live-aboard syndrome after a divorce. The guy ends up with his boat and decides to live on it. But he seldom lasts very long, especially after going through the first winter.
      But there's a few, the hardcore, that stay on. They will last three years or longer. I know one fellow who has been on his boat for 15 years.
      There is a wonderful feeling of independence in living and working on your boat. I like to know that I can put my tools aboard and be entirely self-sufficient."
Above text by Tom Stockley for the Seattle Times, 6 May 1973. 

      

03 May 2016

❖ SEATTLE'S FIRST FIRE BOAT Comes to a flaming end off Kodiak docks

SEATTLE FIRE BOAT SNOQUALMIE
116387
Coal-fired; 7,000 GPM capacity.
1890 cost was $35,000.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Maritime writer Glen Carter for the Seattle Times, c. 1974.

"Alaska maritime news of interest to Seattle is sometimes late enough to have arrived by dogsled, carrier pigeon and boat.
      A case in point is word of Seattle's first fire boat, the SNOQUALMIE, built in 1890. She was alive and well as a shrimp hauler until a couple of weeks ago.
      We had been hearing scuttlebutt that the 98-ft wooden SNOQUALMIE had burned to the waterline somewhere in Alaska.
      She was moored at a fuel dock at Kodiak and caught fire. No injuries, we're told. The Coast Guard towed her from the hazardous fueling area and let her burn offshore. At some other dock, the Kodiak Fire Department might have saved her.
      She last worked for Northern Processors, Inc., hauling shrimp to Puget Sound from Kodiak and from Yakutat.
      Two months after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, the City Council ordered her built. She was launched 13 August 1890.
      She was retired in 1932. She was sold for scrap for $1,888 in 1935. But she helped build the Mercer island floating bridge in 1939-40, then went into obscurity.
      In 1945 she went into freight work for Dahl Transportation Service as the ROBERT EUGENE. Rufus Choate bought her in 1963 and hauled sheep and other livestock to his ranch at Unalaska. She served as a floating home for the Choate family while they got the ranch going. Later she was renamed the SNOQUALMIE.
      Ocean Champion Seafood of Bellevue bought her from Lake Union Boat Sales. She was resold to Northern Processors last spring.
      A former owner said Seattle's first fire boat burned for 36 hours off the Kodiak fuel dock. She was a total loss. Fire finally had got the old gal who had withstood storms, groundings. sinkings, and numerous battering. This time she didn't come back."

      

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