"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 Archipelago, 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 650, 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.

08 March 2017


72' x 18.9' x 9; , 200 HP.
built at Newhall, Orcas Island, WA.,
by J. A. Scribner.
The top photo is dated 1904.
The photo with inscription is a view of the steamer
in Pole Pass, San Juan Archipelago.

The bottom photo was taken by James A. McCormick,
working San Juan County out of Friday Harbor, WA.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.©
Click to enlarge.
The first ISLANDER built in the San Juan Islands was a passenger and freight steamer built by J.A. Scribner for Capt. Newhall, at Newhall, Orcas Island, WA. She replaced the BUCKEYE of 1890 on the Bellingham-San Juans route remaining in Puget Sound service until 1917.

1909: "On Puget Sound, the San Juan Navigation Co was formed by John S. McMillan of Roche Harbor lime interests and other parties, placing the steamer VASHONIAN on the Seattle-Roche Harbor route, meeting the Burton at Roche Harbor for Bellingham. This well-financed competition put veteran steamboat man, Andrew Newhall out of business and his ISLANDER was tied up at Decatur Island upon the expiration of his mail contract the following year."

1910: "In February, the post-office department rejected all bids tendered for carrying the mail on the Bellingham-Anacortes route, now carried by the steamer ISLANDER, and called for new bids, according to a letter received by Andrew Newhall this week from the Deputy Postmaster of Bellingham. Mr. Newhall did not put in any bid in response to the department's recent call, having no desire to continue the service for such a small sum as he has received during the past four years and not doubting that still lower bids would be tendered by owners of gasoline power boats that could not furnish freight service. Under his contract, his steamer had been obliged to call daily at some points that had been unprofitable and where scant appreciation had been shown of the service rendered." 
The San Juan Islander. February 1910.

1911: The well-known Capt. Basford and son Erwin chartered the ISLANDER for a short time but she again proved unsuccessful and was subsequently sold to Mexican interests.

1917: "The little steamer ISLANDER, that formerly plied a route among the San Juan Islands, and which was recently sold to San Francisco interests, is about to be placed in the Mexican trade, according to advices arriving from S.F. recently.
      The little steamer is now at S. F., and her new owners, Helm & Co., which conduct a coastwise service from S.F. to Mexican ports, announce the intention of placing the ISLANDER on that route to alternate with another small craft that has been operating for some time." The Friday Harbor Journal. Aug. 1917.

Named for the ISLANDER of 1904.
(As listed above.)
Dockside, Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham, WA.
Built on San Juan Island, 1922.

Original photo from the archives of S. P. H. S.©
      The hull of the trim looking vessel was designed and built by Albert Jensen of Friday Harbor, WA., for the San Juan Transportation Company. The keel was laid at his shipyard 17 May 1920; with her maiden voyage taking place two years later. She was named for the pioneer craft of that name, built by Andrew Newhall, of Newhall, Orcas Island, WA.
        According to Islander Captain Clayton Shaw (1908-2001,) "C.H. Clift, Jr. of Shaw Island and Bellingham built the motors for the small freight and passenger boat. He guaranteed them to run for a year. The first one never ran very well; the second one did a lot better. They had trouble with the first motor from the start and it broke Clift Machine Works. George Stillman of the islands was Chief Engineer with well-known Captain Charley Basford as the skipper. My uncle Charles Stillman bought a lot of shares in the company. He had a fit as they had a left-handed girl christen the boat and then the boat stuck on the ways and they had to get a tug to pull her off."
        In 1927 the ISLANDER was extensively refitted at King's Shipbuilding in Seattle to have her twin Diesel engines replaced with a 300-HP steam single screw to run her former route. 
Built in Friday Harbor, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
With a crew of twelve and c. twenty passengers aboard, the steamer MOHAWK, that left Seattle Tuesday night, was blown on the rocks near Deception Pass yesterday morning when she broke a tail shaft, setting her helplessly adrift.
      A wireless appeal for help, broadcast by her skipper, Capt. George Ryan, brought the tug DIVIDEND to the rescue. The tug found the steamer had drifted into calm water after being buffeted against the rocks for half an hour. 
      None of those on board was injured, although the steamer was slightly damaged. She arrived in Bellingham, under tow c. seven hours behind schedule.
      The MOHAWK was owned by the Puget Sound Freight Lines and ran out of Seattle, plying among the San Juan Islands and mainland points. Among the passengers were J. Lee Bruns and Edith Gaines of Shaw Island, bound for Bellingham to be married. Although the nuptials were delayed, the ceremony was performed last night (29 March 1933.)
      After discharging passengers and freight the MOHAWK was taken under tow for Seattle. Newspaper ?. From J.L. Bruns, Bellingham, WA., to web admin. 
      The MOHAWK was manned by Capt. Ryan and his crew the last year of her service to the islands. Many islanders have their initials on her rails, and have wondered whatever had become of this boat that was not so much appreciated until she was gone.
      The MOHAWK was taken to Portland in May, by Capt. Dale Kenney, who, with Seattle interests, purchased her for operation on the upper Columbia R. In this service the boat carried freight for a while.

The MOHAWK (ex-ISLANDER) was purchased by the Inland Navigation Co for operation off the coast in towing barges for the Standard Oil Co. She has been idle at the Raicy moorage at the foot of S.E. Yamhill St for some time, caused by the ferry strike of 1935. 
      The MOHAWK was recently taken to the Floating Marine Ways in Portland, where rebuilding for deep sea service was begun. It is understood the super-structure will be stripped down and the present steam engine replaced with a 1000-HP Diesel engine. 
San Juan Islander news clip. 28 Aug. 1941.

Sometime during this time period, the MOHAWK ran as tug PAULA for the Upper Columbia River Towing Company's coastwise tug fleet. 

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