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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.

02 May 2017

❖ THE STARR, THE SIOUX and SKAGIT SNOOSE ❖

GEORGE E. STARR

"Paddle, paddle, GEORGE E. STARR
How we wonder where you are!
You left Seattle at half-past ten
And will get to Bellingham God knows when.
As you creep across the bight
We can see your masthead light
Out upon the bay so far...
Paddle, paddle, GEORGE E. STARR."

The gallant GEORGE E. STARR, once the speed queen of the Sound, had slowed down in old age until she had become the butt of waterfront humorists, one of whom composed the above bit of verse, that remains enshrined in steamboat history.
      The STARR, as one of Joshua Green's old LaConner T & T fleet, was a favorite of his and he did his best to view her infirmities optimistically. When the old paddler was even later than usual getting into Colman Dock he would glance hopefully out his office window, consult his gold pocket watch and then say, "My, the STARR is certainly late tonight. She must have picked up a real fine load of freight this trip."
      The first of the new Seattle-built steamers, KULSHAN, was launched on the evening of 21 July 1910. The occasion was described by the Seattle Times as taking place 'amid ideal surroundings and before a multitude of representatives of the wealth, commerce and fashion of Seattle and other ports in Puget Sound.'
S.S. SIOUX
Launching, December 1910,

Soon to be named Seattle Construction and Drydock Co.
Photo print from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      In late December, the second of the new steel steamers, SIOUX, was launched from the Moran yard amid gala christening ceremonies similar to those held for the KULSHAN. Like the KULSHAN, she was practically ready to begin steaming when she left the building shed, and a few days later she ran her trials under her newly assigned skipper, Captain John "Red Jack" Ellsmore. The 152-ft SIOUX, fitted with a 4-cylinder triple-expansion engine of 1,000 HP, displayed a slightly better turn of speed than the KULSHAN. 
      The christening of the SIOUX took place in the best and most gallant tradition of Joshua Green and the Puget Sound Navigation Co. 
      Much of the steel used in constructing the SIOUX, Seattle newspapers proudly pointed out, was rolled by the Irondale, WA., mill, this being the first steamship ever built of Washington-made metal. So it was eminently fitting that this fine craft should take over the run to the booming steel town where she had had her beginnings. 
      The SIOUX ran only briefly, on the route for which she had been built. After running to Tacoma and Hood Canal excursions, she was shifted to the Seattle-Edmonds-Everett service, in which she remained for many years. 
      Captain Ellsmore was proud of the SIOUX and kept a watchful eye on the itinerant loggers who wandered from camp to camp with their belongings rolled up in blankets slung over their shoulders. There independent and highly individualistic workers wore caulked boots, chewed 'snoose' and had a fondness for high-proof whiskey, all of which attributes were hard on the steamboats on which they migrated from job to job.
      Joshua Green had learned of this problem early in his career as a working steamboat man. The old LaConner T & T boats were a favorite means of getting from Seattle to the logging camps of the upper Skagit and he recalls that 'After big holidays you couldn't walk through the cabins for loggers sleeping off their holiday drunks with their heads on their blanket rolls. Would I have a time collecting fares!'
      Sleeping loggers were bad enough, but when they were awake and in the mood for mischief they could pretty well demolish a steamboat unless its officers and crew were alert and equally aggressive. Upon one occasion, four of five of the 'ladies of pleasure' of the river town of Mt. Vernon boarded the HENRY BAILEY to spend the Fourth of July in Seattle. The loggers who had decided to stay in town had already gotten their celebration well under way when they got word of this outrage and went down to the landing to take the women ashore. Green still shudders at the recollection: 'They were fighting drunk and we couldn't get them off the boat. One of them bit a whiskey glass in two. It was a riot! As fast as we'd get 'em ashore they'd come back again. We finally had to cross the river and tie up to the bank until the tide came in and we could get out of there.'
      Red Jack Ellsmore had few such problems on the SIOUX. He kept a big brass fire hose nozzle close at hand, and if the loggers traveling with him showed signs of becoming obstreperous, he didn't hesitate to use the nozzle to beat a spirited tattoo upon their heads. Word of his rough-and-ready method of maintaining decorum aboard the SIOUX soon spread among the loggers, and she suffered little damage at their hands. 
The Green Years. Newell, Gordon. Seattle, WA. Superior Publishing. (1969)
      

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