"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.

09 November 2011


Menu from the ADMIRAL ROGERS, Captain Landstrom 1925.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
click to enlarge.
Steamer SPOKANE, c. 1910
From the Clinton Betz Ship Postcard Collection
Archived in the Saltwater People Historical Society©
S. S. SPOKANE aground.

      The SPOKANE was originally an elegant passenger steamship launched in 1901 in San Francisco, the first designed especially for the Inside Passage trade between Seattle and Alaska. Her dimensions were 281' x 40.1' x 17.3'. She had a triple-expansion steam engine fueled by two coal-burning boilers made by Babcock & Wilcox. The HP was 2,000; listed speed was 15-knots.The SPOKANE came to Seattle in 1902 where she was acclaimed as the "finest ship on the Pacific" in the press reports of her welcome. SPOKANE was lavishly decorated and steamed to Tacoma in May 1903, where President Theodore Roosevelt and his party embarked on a cruise to Seattle, via Bremerton. Four revenue cutters and sixty other vessels escorted them.
      More excitement of a different kind was in store for her that fall on her passage south for the winter. SPOKANE picked up an improvised raft with four survivors aboard who nineteen hours before, had been wrecked on Blanco Reef when the steamer SOUTH PORTLAND went down. 
      In 1907 she continued running north up the Inside Passage with one good season and then striking a rock in Seymour Narrows. In 1912 she underwent major repairs and now looking more graceful, was back sailing with comfortable staterooms and wide berths.

      WW I had not meant much to the navigators of the Inside Passage. But SPOKANE got a good taste of it in November 1917; whilst southbound from SE Alaska she again struck rocks on the BC coast. It was reported that three enemy aliens had stowed away and fraternized with the crew. When the trio saw their chance they deliberately ran the steamer ashore. The two Germans and one Austrian were arrested when the crew arrived back in Seattle. It was reported she was repaired yet again and was used for transporting supplies for salmon canneries.
      In 1922 the veteran liner was renamed ADMIRAL ROGERS; two years later she came to the rescue of the city of Ketchikan, when she came in close to shore to aid in controlling the flaming buildings along the waterfront. The heroic action lasted two hours with the crew credited with saving the city from destruction. Captain Frank Landstrom and crew were honored with a bronze plaque in appreciation of their assistance.
      ADMIRAL ROGERS enjoyed more cruising before she was taken over by the University of Oregon for a floating college. 

Blind Bay, San Juan County, WA. 1947.
Click to enlarge.
Photo by Joe Williamson, Seattle.
Original photo from the S.P.H.S.
      She spent time laying rather idle and forgotten on Seattle's Lake Union--fourteen years later in July 1946 part time Shaw Islanders--Hal Salvesen and M. Haines purchased her with plans to convert her into a floating resort-hotel. A brief passage in H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, Gordon Newell (Superior 1966) states that this grand dream of the Haines/Salvesen team came true but there are residents to this day who drove daily to the dock for mail during that time period but don't remember a chance to stop for a tot of rum with the ADMIRAL.
      On the high tide at 2230, 27 April 1948, locals could hear the tug straining to pull the ADMIRAL from the muddy bottom of Blind Bay. She sailed in the dark, under tow to the scrap yard down sound. Circa twenty-two years later when the Shaw Island Historical Museum was launched, a Williamson print of the old liner and her wooden wheel were two of the first pieces donated to begin the small, island, artifact collection. Rather fitting for the wheel to jump-ship at the vessel's last port of call. No chance for a dance, but she left her heart on Shaw.
Further reading: Lloyd M. Stadum wrote a piece on the steamship ADMIRAL ROGERS (ex-SPOKANE) for the quarterly journal of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, The Sea Chest, December 1981.
Mr. Ed Bold (1891-1983)
Was a long-time summer resident of 
Shaw Island with his DUCHESS, 
designed by Ed Monk, Sr;
built by Edison Technical School in 1939.
Here he is aft, as a passenger

on S.S. SPOKANE, c. 1911-1913.
Photo thanks to his son 'Skip' Bold.

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