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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.

20 November 2011

❖ The Steamer ROOSEVELT ❖ by Captain Ed Shields

Steamer ROOSEVELT
Original Photo from archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"The ROOSEVELT was a steam powered towboat that operated on Puget Sound and in adjacent waters for many years. She was constructed in 1905 for Robert E. Peary to transport him and his supplies as far north as possible in Davis Strait and then land on the coast of Greenland. She was of exceedingly heavy construction, being 600 T-burden, 194-ft L x 35-ft B; she was built to withstand the ice flows of Davis Strait.
   
Robert E. Peary and the ROOSEVELT

Two antique postcards cancelled 1911.
Bottom: "Capt. Bartlett, experienced with Peary in the
privations of the Arctic region, indicated by the cross.
Men who were willing to brave unseen perils and dangers
in the cause of conquest and honor to their mother country
––such were these men; their efforts
were crowned with success."
Click to enlarge.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      After Peary's return to New York, the vessel was sold to Puget Sound interests and brought to the northwest via the newly opened Panama Canal. One of the first noteworthy events the ROOSEVELT participated in was the opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, on 4 July 1917. She led the flotilla of vessels through the canal that day.
      In 1923 the ROOSEVELT was owned by the Washington Tug and Barge Company of Seattle. She was employed in towing three former WW I wood hulls, which were serving as barges, loaded with lumber from Puget Sound to San Diego. They were towed one at a time. One loading on Puget Sound, one unloading in San Diego, and the third at sea. The ROOSEVELT would bring an empty barge to the Puget Sound mill, take the loaded barge in tow to San Diego, and on arrival, the other barge was now unloaded and ready for the return trip. She was able to make two round trips per month and hauled 2,500,000-board feet of lumber each time south bound. She was the best tugboat on the coast for this form of ocean towing.
Mammoth log booms towed from the Columbia River
down the Pacific Coast to San Diego, CA.
Saltwater People Historical Society archives.
     In 1924 the ROOSEVELT, along with two other smaller tugs, took a flotilla of barges loaded with lumber to Miami, Florida.
     In 1931 the ROOSEVELT was dispatched to Cape Flattery to tow the schooner VIGILANT into Puget Sound, after her race from Hawaii with the COMMODORE. Extreme weather produced violent seas and several of the ROOSEVELT's pilot house windows were smashed; however, she accomplished her task.

Seattle Tug ROOSEVELT
 and the Schooner VIGILANT
A 1932 Seattle Times page from the scrapbook of
 PNW Captain W. C. "Pappy" Beachum (1906-1980).
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
1932 found the ROOSEVELT towing large ocean going log rafts south to San Diego.
On 3 May 1934 the motor ship CHILDAR was outbound across the Columbia River bar when she was battered onto Peacock Spit on the north side of the entrance. The USCG Cutter REDWING succeeded in towing the stricken vessel from the grip of the breakers. They could not cross the Columbia River bar to return Astoria or Portland due to the exceedingly high breakers, so both vessels proceeded north. The next morning the ROOSEVELT took over the tow and brought the stricken CHILDAR into Esquimalt, BC.
      The last voyage of this famous tug was in 1937. She was sold to the California Towing Co in San Francisco. She set out on her final trip towing the former USN collier JUPITER from Puget Sound to the East Coast for scrapping. The tow yawed excessively and the tow line damaged the ROOSEVELT. She also experienced engine problems with her old power plant. After departing the Panama Canal the ROOSEVELT became totally disabled, turned the tow over to the New York tug RELIEF, and returned to the Panama Canal. She was laid up, and the crew finally sold her equipment, as they had not been paid. Finally, this former Artic exploration ship rotted away."
Written by Captain Ed Shields
About the Boats,1994

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