"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
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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.

09 June 2011

The Extraordinary Maritime Collection of Bill Somers

Wheels, Whistles, and Wonders
Grand Opening of a New Exhibit
11 June 2011
Foss Waterway Seaport

The sounds, sights and classic beauty of Puget Sound's historic "Mosquito Fleet" and steamboat era of the 1850s — 1930s will be richly represented in the new exhibit, which showcases about a quarter of the nearly 1,500 exquisite pieces acquired last fall from the largest known private collection of artifacts related to the maritime history of Puget Sound.
      One–of–a–kind collection kept intact!
 The generous support of area business leaders Jim Milgard and George Russell enabled the Seaport to obtain the entire collection. "This comprehensive collection is a must–see for all who are interested in maritime artifacts and the rich heritage of Puget Sound's steam era," says regional maritime artifacts expert, Roger Ottenbach. "The Somers Collection is Puget Sound's most important maritime artifacts collection in existence. Bill was very deliberate in what he gathered. It is outstanding that the Seaport was able to acquire these items."
      The Grand Opening activities will feature live music reminiscent of the steamboat era, food, docents presenting "then and now" interpretations of maritime artifact usage, storytellers reenacting characters from the era and interacting with visitors, and children's hands–on activities. Attendees will see the Seaport's active wooden boat shop staffed by expert boat builders, and heritage vessels such as the unique M/V Westward, S/V Odyssey, and S/V Red Jacket at the Seaport's docks.
      Extend your fun and go next door to Foss Harbor Marina's "Salty Dock Day" in honor of National Marina Day on June 11th. Take part in boater education classes, a "Salty Dog" Contest for canine "First Mates," games, safety demonstrations, a Saturday Night outdoor movie (weather permitting), and other fun activities to help celebrate all of the recreational opportunities marinas provide on our community's waterways. Amazing artifacts — and then some!
      The history of Puget Sound's Mosquito Fleet steamboats is strongly represented in the immense collection of artifacts, including vessel name boards, life rings, models, ships' wheels, photographs, and paintings from the famed era when privately owned steamships and sternwheelers plied the waters of Puget Sound. Visitors will hear authentic steam whistles and experience the wonder and diversity of hundreds of finely preserved ships' artifacts including funnels, binnacles, anchors, fog horns, brass propellers, life rings, and ship models.
      Also included are many objects from navy vessels, merchant vessels, and ships that sailed the Yukon River during the Gold Rush, including an 8–foot diameter ship's wheel. Visitors will see a ship's bell from the USS Chauncey, one of seven Navy destroyers that ran aground on the California coast in 1923 in an event that became known as the Honda Point Disaster. There are also several artifacts from the SS Mayaguez, the merchant vessel at the center of what is considered the last battle of the Vietnam War.
Please see FossWaterwaySeaport.org for hours and directions.

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