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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.

04 February 2015

❖ New Seattle Museum and New Ship Model 1976 ❖

Model Maker George Burke
with BEAR
for the new Coast Guard Museum/NW.
Courtesy of Kitsap Magazine 1976.
Bainbridge Island resident George Burke put the finishing touches on a scale model of the famous icebreaker BEAR. The model has become one of the chief attractions of the Coast Guard Museum, which opened in the summer of 1976. Burke took four years to build the supermodel, crafted entirely by hand with plans from the Smithsonian Institution.
      The special display was unveiled at a dedication ceremony of the new museum, located at Pier 36, Seattle in August 1976. Included in the ceremony, attended by c. 100 dignitaries from the maritime community around Puget Sound, was a special award presented to Burke by the Port of Seattle Commission in recognition of his donation.
      Burke learned a lot about the historic ship while constructing her replica. It took many hours of research for pictures, details and historical data before the actual building could begin.
      According to the Kitsap article by Judy Hall, the BEAR called Seattle her home for 41 years.
      Burke said at the time, his model has been valued at over $6,000.
      Historian, US Coast Guard Museum NW volunteer Capt. Gene Davis, Ret'd of Seattle has kindly photographed the model for inclusion here.

Model of the famous BEAR
1976
Coast Guard Museum NW, Seattle WA.
Thank you, builder, George Burke and Capt. Davis.
There is a 'Skipper' Calkins piece on the life-size vessel BEAR, which can be viewed on our site here.

San Juan County connection: Capt. Francis Tuttle who retired to his farm on Orcas Island, a friend of Robert Moran, was in command of the BEAR on the famous mission to rescue eight whaling vessels caught in the ice near Pt. Barrow.
(The late Jane Barfoot Hodde, of Olga, was the person to educate this writer about the Orcas link to that maritime event.)
      The BEAR had just arrived home to Seattle from a six-month cruise in the north but outfitted immediately with supplies and all volunteer officers and crew. Ten months later they came home with the crews of the wrecked whalers.
That report of the 27 Nov. 1897-13 Sept. 1898 expedition has been published by the US Gov't Printing Office, entitled: The Cruise of the US Revenue Cutter BEAR and the Overland Expedition viewed here.
      This year of 2015 celebrates the 100th anniversary of the "Act to Create the United States Coast Guard."
To read more about that and view the work of the Coast Guard Museum at Pier 36, Seattle, here is their site.




For more than forty-two years the Bear patrolled the waters of the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean. In addition to routine work, the Bear became celebrated for many dramatic rescues of whalers trapped in Arctic ice. When gold was discovered in Alaska her role became one of law enforcement. The story of the Bear is that of a historic era of seamanship and is also a unique insight into the explorations of then unknown regions of our world.
Book search here––The Great Ice Ship BEAR



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