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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.

19 September 2012

❖ Waterfront Pageantry ❖

VIRGINIA V, 
steaming into Elliott Bay, Seattle, WA.
Keith Sternberg dates this between 1934-1939.
Original photograph from the James A. Turner Collection,
Saltwater People Historical Society©
 "We were young and full of vinegar in those early years of Seattle's Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society [PSMHS]. Steamboat races, tugboat races, and pyrotechnics were frequently on our minds. Action we wanted and action we got--action mixed with history--a novel combination. Our first big endeavor was to race on Elliott Bay the last of the inland passenger steamers in an epic contest for the crown.
SIGHTSEER on Lake Washington, Seattle.

SIGHTSEER (ex-VASHONA)
Original photo from the 
J.A.T. Collection/S.P.H.S. archives.
Pitted against each other were the venerable steamers VIRGINIA V and the SIGHTSEER, skippered by Captain 'Howling' Parker and Captain Harry Wilson, respectively. This led to the annual Elliott Bay tugboat races, sponsored by the PSMHS for many years and involving scores of tugs of all sizes and horsepower, coming here from as far as Alaska to the north and the Columbia River to the south, with a generous sprinkling of Canadian challengers as well. We started a nationwide show, one that was copied in several large American ports.
Then came that featured race between the last of the sternwheelers--the SKAGIT CHIEF, SKAGIT BELLE, and W. T. PRESTON.
SKAGIT CHIEF,  SKAGIT BELLE, and W. T. PRESTON 
Churning up Elliott Bay 20 Aug. 1950.
The course of the Seafair event ran from 
Magnolia Bluff to the foot of Lenore Street.
Race sponsored by the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.

Photo by Larry Dion for the Seattle Times©.
Original from the S. P. H. S.
The blackhorse PRESTON took the honors. And when the annual Seafair rolled around, the destruction of Neptune's ship fell in our hands, and Elliott Bay was the scene of the fiery end of many worn-out hulls including the historic BELLINGHAM, first ship of the Alaska Steamship Co., Black Ball Line, and Northland Transportation Co.

Photo by James A. Turner, Seattle, WA.
Date and event unknown.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
Those were rip-snorting days of fun and frolic, and we salty dogs and dock wallopers really lived it up.
Text by Jim Gibbs
The Sea Chest
Quarterly journal of the PSMHS
June 1969

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