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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 December 2016

❖ MOSQUITO FLEET MONDAY ❖ The ELIZA ANDERSON and Capt. McAllep

Sidewheeler ELIZA ANDERSON
ON 7967 
Built by Samuel Farnum at Portland, OR.
Launched 27 Nov. 1859.
134' R.L x 25' x 8'
276.42 g.t., 197.49 n.t.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"The ELIZA ANDERSON was typical of her age and line of work, being an inland steamboat, circa 1850. Mechanically she was typical, for she was powered by a massive, single-cylindered engine that transmitted power to a pair of side-wheels by way of a diamond-shaped iron walking-beam that nodded sedately in its gallows frame atop her hurricane deck. In addition, the ELIZA ANDERSON had a salty, crusty character, one she shared with a long line of owners and skippers.
      A few very old-timers along the Northwest waterfronts remember the Old ANDERSON in her later years and delight in the legends that grew up around her and her doughty masters:
      'Do you mind the time Cap'n McAllep was on the ANDERSON?' the yarn begins. 'I was with him one night and it was blowin' great guns. We were making a desperate try to get into Deception Pass. The old packet had on a big load of freight and quite a passel of passengers. Included in the freight were seven pianos, eight head of cattle, and a dozen barrels of whiskey.
      'The first thing we knew the steamer was getting water into her faster than we could get it out. 'Over with the cattle, the Old Man bellers. Into the water they went. Next came the order to dump the pianos. We held onto the whiskey until we got into Seattle. There the agent came around. He heard our tale of woe, looked at the Old Man and the whiskey.
      'Cap,' he sez, 'don't you think you acted a might hasty in getting those pianos overboard and saving this whiskey?'
      'The Old Man turned on him disgusted like, 'You don't drink pianos, man! You can't drink pianos,' he roared.
      'Another time we were caught in the pass in the tide. To save us we couldn't buck our way through. The Old Man was handlin' the steamer from amidships, standing on the hurricane deck like he was on the bridge of an ocean liner. You remember the ANDERSON had a walking-beam and her galley was just below where the Old Man was standing. From the galley the smell of hot coffee came up to him. It was pourin' rain and colder'n a witch's bottom and that coffee smelled might delightful.
      So through the narrow opening where the connecting rod came up to the walking-beam and makin' his first voyage and he was used to the ways of the loggin' camps. So he roared back, tellin' the Old Man to come and get his coffee if he wanted it.
      'I'm comin,' you belly-robbin' son of a bitch!' the Old Man screamed down through the opening. 'I'm comin' right down through this hole and when I get there you're going t' know it!' You could hear the pans below rattle when the Old Man let out that screech.
      'Well, sir, that cook was topside with a steamin' mug o'coffee before the walking-beam had time to nod more'n twice and the passengers, who'd been hangin' on the deck below and lookin' worried, like t' died of laughter. Even the old ANDERSON seemed t' be impressed by the skipper's beller and went right ahead and butted her way through the pass with no more trouble.
      The ELIZA ANDERSON wasn't the first West Coast steamboat, but she is numbered among the pioneers. She moved slowly  but made money fast. She ended her days at Dutch Harbor, AK,  at age 40." [And that is another story.]
Text from: Pacific Steamboats from Sidewheeler to Motor Ferry by Gordon Newell and Joe Williamson. Bonanza Books. New York.

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