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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.

12 September 2012

❖ Recalling the Sternwheeler FAIRHAVEN

Steamer FAIRHAVEN 
Undated litho card from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

"I looked out the window of the LaConner Hotel and there was the FAIRHAVEN docked below, steam coming out around her sternwheel. I was fascinated." So reminisces Elliott Pickrell of Indianola about his first encounter with the Mosquito Fleet. Cyrus Pickrell brought his family west from S. Dakota by train in 1904, arriving on Easter Sunday and making connections the same day for Mt. Vernon on the Great Northern. From there the family took a stagecoach to LaConner. The elder Pickrell was an Indian Agent, his assignment being the Swinomish Indian Reservation. The next day the family took an 18-ft skiff across Swinomish Slough to their new home. For two years they lived there and Elliott and brother William remember well the comings and goings of the FAIRHAVEN.
      "She had no schedule such as the ferries we're used to now. She came in at high tide. She was a flat-bottomed sternwheeler and would load and discharge before getting stuck. But sometimes she'd miss and have to wait 12 hours for the next tide. Half the time she made a night run and the other half the day run. All the waters around there are very shallow. The family's occasional trips to Seattle on the steamer show what generated the Mosquito Fleet's traffic. Elliott made the trip twice, once to meet an aunt and once for family shopping.
      My recollection is that we always had a stateroom, since the trip took about eight hours. I recall eating in the galley."
      The FAIRHAVEN was built in 1889 at the Capt. John J. Holland yard in Tacoma. She was a wooden sternwheel steamer, 130.2' x 26.5' x 6.2' with a single cylinder engine of 196 ihp. She measured 319 g. tons and 240 n. tons. In 1918 she was beached after a fire and was used as a makeshift houseboat to close out her days. The FAIRHAVEN was one of Puget Sound's many 'mosquito fleet' steamers that made development of the region feasible in the early days.
Rex Lee Carlaw
Courtesy of P.S.M.H.S.
The Sea Chest, Dec. 1982
For information on PSMHS membership
here www.pugetmaritime.org/Membership.htm

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