"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

About Us

My photo
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.

15 April 2018


Washington State Ferry CHELAN (643291)
Washington State Ferry TILLIKUM (D278437)
Harney Channel, San Juan Archipelago
On this day fifteen April 2018
Looking west down Harney Channel
one week previous; April 2018.
Both images were taken from Blakely Island, WA.
Courtesy of photographer Lance Douglas©

09 April 2018

❖ POINT ROBERTS COUNTRY ❖ with June Burn 1930

Copyright of Thos. C. Metsker
"Metsker the Map Man."

This map is for convenience not for navigation.
Click image to enlarge for viewing Pt. Roberts.

"The village of Point Roberts is called West Point Roberts. It stands down in the lower lefthand corner of the peninsula. Here are two or three stores, gas stations, a big fish cannery. Behind one of the new stores, there stands a thirty or forty-year-old building with "Bureau Salon" in big letters across its false front. There are several houses, of course, one little hotel called the Green Lantern, another restaurant, a schoolhouse and nameless relics of houses whose uses I do not know.
      Jutting out into Georgia Strait from the beach is the long dock. The daily boat, TULIP, from Bellingham, stands off here to discharge mail and freight. Beyond the beach a mile or so, fishtraps look like centipedes floating on the water. The high derrick affair up northward is one of the boundary monuments set there to let fishermen know when they are on their side of the fence.
      It stands over a mile from shore, I believe; 5,500-ft to be exact. I suppose there is a light atop as there is on the one ashore. The international boundary makes a sharp bend two or three miles out from Pt. Roberts and turns southeasterly down Georgia to Haro Strait when it bends again through Haro to Juan de Fuca and so on out to sea. It really is too bad that it doesn't turn southwesterly from Boundary Bay and so avoid this bit of peninsula altogether. It must be a great bother keeping up customs and boundary patrol for six square miles or less of country. Though it does add interest to our map to see Pt. Roberts away up there at our northwesternmost corner separated from us by both land and sea. It is more than an island, surrounded as it is on three sides by water, and on the fourth by an alien country.
      Summer people, week-ending visitors, are already trickling down to all the long, sandy beaches of the Point. They look very carefree, walking like Pippa on her one holiday of the year. Very jaunty and satisfied they look, as if they had achieved some private victory of their own.
      At the village, I found Mr. Culp just ready to go home. He brought me back to the cottage in the woods, and this evening after supper all of us crowded into the coupe.
      Down to Boundary Bay, we went past Baker's new charming log cabin, past the Russell place, along the narrow graveled road with shrubs pressing in from both sides, past the Ellis Johnson place. Honeysuckle in bloom in the woods. Mrs. Culp told of the effort that their local Grange made to stop the vandalism of wildflowers and shrubs in the summertime. They wrote Olympia about it, learned that tree stealing could be prosecuted, but apparently not other forms of the ruthless gathering of wildflowers.

      Leghorn Heights on our left, and the Solomon ranch. Crystal Waters beach. Is it not a lovely name? Thorstenson Ranch and the Goodman place deep in the woods. Down to White Lily Point, which is a high bluff overlooking the bay. Here, in March, the little white six-petaled Easter lily droops her sweet head under every salal shrub, every frond of Oregon
grape. In bloom now are vetch, wild roses, Indian Paintbrush, honeysuckle, fritillaria or rice-root, and many little things whose names I do not know.
Eight photographs from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Across Boundary Bay the lights of Blaine, below the bluff fifteen fishtraps with long curved leads. Far down across the Strait, Lummi Island, and Orcas. The big P.A.F. fish cannery at the foot of the high bluff has not run for years. Mr. Arni Myrdal is in charge of fishing operations down there. Wise in Icelandic lore he is, they say. But I did not meet him on this trip. See you tomorrow. June."
Above text by June Burn. Puget Soundings. May 1930.

31 March 2018


On 31 March 2000, along with the calm arrival of a new century came the delivery of a new fish boat built on Shaw Island. A fish boat who wouldn't go fishing.
      Here's a little historical background of what pre-dated that launch day.
The first retired reefnet boat donated to
the Shaw Island Library and Historical Society.
Delivered on this day of 20 November 1968.
Men by the boat are Henry Hoffman and Malcolm Cameron.
The crane was operated by Wayne Fowler.
 Margaret "Babs" Cameron captured this photo.
Photograph by Wally Howland
c. 1970.
      The official logo adopted by the Shaw Island Library and Historical Society in the 1960s is a graphic design of a reefnet boat by the much-loved artist Malcolm Cameron. It honors the local fishing method, featuring the distinctive design of the indigenous craft that were fished as a pair. The Cameron artwork was to be the logo for the classy gray stationery so didn't this mean the Society should have a boat worked into their small garden with the library and museum buildings still on the drafting board?
      The Society's first "retired" reefnet boat, as shown in the top photos, did come to be with a donation by local fisherman Lloyd Lillie, hauled up cemetery hill before the little private museum and library were even open for business. Malcolm, Wayne Fowler, and Henry Hoffman moved the reefnet boat on site in November 1968. 
Shaw Island Library and Historical Society
Postcard photo by summer islander, Wally Howland.
Published in the early 1970s.

       The boat lived a long, lazy life while being featured on the above SILHS photo postcard until the old vessel dissolved away from the effects of decades of drizzly winter rain.
      After much discussion of the Society trustees off and on over several years and a few inspections of potential replacements, the next candidate was chosen for the front garden. Their choices had dwindled to a scant few. 
     Unfortunately, it was decided the next retiree was a little out of scale for the site; a vessel still wearing her colorful red bottom paint and green freeboard, this more evident after it was carefully installed. Some Islanders were a little agitated about the new behemoth moored on the high-traffic corner; some jokester adorned her with graffiti on a name board inscribed SS Feng Shui, for all passersby to view. The vessel was proud on her throne at the corner but catching some unkind remarks.
Retired reefnet boat No. 2
Escorted off-site.
March 2000.
      In order to preserve this link to our island's maritime history, to the rescue came supportive local history boosters Gwendolyn Yansen and Frances Hilen. They commissioned boatbuilder Peter Christensen to build a new reefnet boat to travel directly past the traditional fishing sites at Squaw Bay and be lifted up over the antique split-rail fence to her new home, high and dry on the Library/Museum corner. She was constructed of Western Red Cedar to authentic dimensions of one of the slightly smaller vessels. 

Reefnet boat number 3.
Delivery day 31 March 2000
One reefnet boat ready to climb the hill to home.
Click image to enlarge.

She was not filled with styrofoam flotation like the boats that were afloat and fishing outside Squaw Bay, sadly her ladder steps were removed from the watchtower for insurance reasons, and there are no crew initials hand-carved in the gunwales. 

From across the street came
the Lynnette Trucco-Baier class of school kids
over to investigate and, of course,
climb the tower.
Delivery day of 31 March 2000

31 March 2000
No fish scales but settling in well.

      There were a few comments afloat about the boat not being an "authentic" reefnet boat that had actually been fishing––but take a look around the past winter haul-out areas and see if any of those old-timers are above ground level. Long gone.
      Thanks to charter members Gwen and Fran, our benefactors, the on-site reefnet boat logo was secured for a few more years; a fine example of islanders pulling together for the benefit of their community. Eighteen birthdays and counting.
      Data for this essay was extracted from "Log of the Reefnet Boat" compiled by C. Christensen, containing Shaw Island Library and Historical Society board minutes (1994-2000), one page of a 1968 private diary, as well as construction photos from Blind Bay Boatshop. 

21 March 2018


Mrs. Anna G. Grimison
10 January 1939.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The Pacific Northwest has had a big year for tourists. Although the weather was not as warm and sunny as it normally is in summer, the highways were dotted with cars from other state and sight-seeing tour entrepreneurs were more than busy. As the No. 3 industry of this part of the country, next to lumber and fishing, the tourist business did well. Of course, while they were here, many out-of-staters took to the water, one of the most beautiful attributes of the Evergreen Playground. Charter boat operators had a good trade to the San Juan Island area and on north along the Inside Passage. Tom Hamilton reported a busy season at his swank Malibu Club at the mouth of picturesque Princess Louisa Inlet.
      Tourists in Seattle waterfront gazed with interest at the modern steel freighters and mighty Army transports moving in and out of Elliott Bay. But the vessel they went home talking about was the SKAGIT CHIEF.
502 tons
165' x 40' x 6.4'

Original photo by James A. Turner
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

She is a broad-beamed dowager, pushed around the bay by a large paddle-wheel slapping at her stern, and she is the only sternwheeler still in action in the harbor. Oddly enough though, she is no sentimental hangover from the good old days of steamboating on Puget Sound. She was built at Lake Union Drydock & Machines in 1935 for the Skagit River Navigation Company and specifically for service on the Skagit River. This river, if seen from the air can easily be distinguished by its meandering course and muddy channel as it flows into Puget Sound near Mt. Vernon. The shallow draft and stern-wheel propulsion of the SKAGIT CHIEF are made to order for skimming over the snags and flats of this wide but shallow river run.
      Normally sightseers would have seen her younger sister, the SKAGIT BELLE, around the Sound too, but she was temporarily out of service this summer. "Head man" of the Skagit River Navigation Co is a woman, efficient Mrs. Anna Grimison, who has been at the helm since 1924. She has always loved ships but makes it clear that she does not want to be typed as a waterfront character or a "Tugboat Annie!"
For another post including the salty Anna and her company please click HERE
The above text was published in Motor Boating Nov. 1948

10 March 2018

❖ WEST, WEST, WEST, the Westernmost Point of the USA ❖

A sign at the fork in the road two miles west of 
 Sekiu points to Cape Alava, 25 miles by road 
 and three more by trail to the westernmost point
in the United States. Photo dated, July 1954.
Original photo by Eric Wahleen from the archives
of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Indian Island, Washington, off Cape Alava, 1954,
is connected with the mainland by a sandspit
which is under water only at very high tides.
Tiny islets are offshore. The island is the north end 
of a 50-mile ocean strip added to the Olympic Nat'l Park in 1953.
Click image to enlarge.

Original photo by Eric Wahleen,
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Elephant Rock
A natural formation on the Olympic Peninsula, WA.

Photo by Eric Wahleen for Smith's Scenic Views, Tacoma, WA.
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Rapids on the Quinault River,
Olympic National Park, Washington State.

Card from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

The Olympic National Park, a World Heritage Site since 1981, features spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline, scenic lakes, mountains and glaciers, and magnificent temperate rainforest. These diverse ecosystems are like visiting three different parks in one. To learn more about the modern-day fees and regulations for this beautiful home to very clever animals looking for your camp food, and visited by guests from all over the world here is a link to the Olympic National Park site. 

01 March 2018


Here she is seen along Blind Bay Rd, Shaw Island, for a photo by
the family matriarch, Lilie Marold Bruns in 1920.

The family lived on the island c. 1901-1945.
(Actually, Eber's mother, Lilie, arrived with a married sister 
before Statehood and taught at the first Shaw Island School.)
The gas screw was built at Reed's Shipyard on Decatur Is., WA.
She was launched in 1912 for Henry Cayou, his first power boat.
32' L x 10' W  x 4' D.
She had a 16 HP 2-cyl, 4-cyl Frisco-Standard, turning
a 28 x 28 Coolidge wheel. 330 RPM.
Click image to enlarge.
Some words from long-time mariner Eberhardt Bruns (1902-1982) from San Juan County, who was born on Lopez Island, went to grade school and married Atlanta Berg on Shaw Island, and then moved off to Orcas Island for an engineering job. 
      "We put the new wheel on her at Fish Creek [SJIs.] Speed about 8 knots. We bought her at Reeds in 1918 for $500 from a Mr. Peterson of Anacortes. She had been pulled up for over a year. We had Joe Reed recaulk her. I got the engine going and we ran her home to Shaw, late 1918 or early 1919. We cut off about 8' of after cabin, installed a fish hold and a fishing cockpit aft.
      Emil Wickstrom, Shaw Island, helped us in buying and fixing her up for fishing. He had fished at the Cape for years. Dad & I fished off Cape Flattery 1919. Dad didn't like boating and fishing but I did. Started out for the Cape 1920. Got storm bound west of Race Rocks. I came down sick so Dad brought us back to Shaw. Called the Doctor from Friday Harbor. He came over to Shaw and diagnosed appendicitis. Took me to Bellingham. I was not taken off the boat from Race Rocks to Bellingham. After about 10 days they operated. I survived. That is another story.
      We sold SKIDDOO in 1922 to a Mr. McTavish of Orcas Lime Co, Mosquito Pass, San Juan Island. He later put in a 4-cyl Fordson-Marine about 40-HP. Later she burnt up in Mitchell Bay. The 16-HP Frisco Standard was sold to a man on Sinclair Is. He installed it in a 30' troller, DAPHNE. Many memories, Eber Bruns." 
Eber Bruns to his son, 20 March 1985.
      Eber's young brother, J. Lee, is standing near cabin, aft deck. "My face is in the window. Mother took the picture standing on the rock in front of the cabin. I had put the boat there just to have our picture took. Float in the background. Old [Morrison] barn on the bank."

      This SKIDDOO photo was shared by Lee Bruns and also by his daughter, Nancy Bruns; the essay was shared by Eber's daughter, Ellen Bruns Madan. All helpful extended family contributing to the local history archives of this web admin.

      Eber Bruns, as he said, did enjoy the boats, and if you would like more written by the man, click  Chief Engineer without an Engine

1907:  County Commissioner Henry t. Cayou took a party from Deer Harbor in his fine launch SKIDDOO to attend the dance given at West Sound, Friday Evening. They report a good time.
San Juan Islander. 30 Nov. 1907

19 February 2018


Steam ferry LINCOLN
580 tons, 147.3' x 43' x 12.6'
Built at Capt. John Anderson's
Lake Washington Shipyard, Houghton, WA.

Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The automobile ferry, which was to eventually replace the passenger steamboat fleet of Puget Sound, first became a familiar sight on Lake Washington, where a comparatively heavy population and the early construction of connecting roads on both sides of the Lake made the development of this type of water transportation a natural. 
      The steel steam propeller ferry LINCOLN was built at Houghton for operation by King County on Lake Washington with the WASHINGTON of 1908. The LINCOLN was placed on the Madison Park (Seattle)-Kirkland route.
Steam ferry ISSAQUAH 
288-ton double-ended vessel 
114.4' x 38.2' x 8.9'
Click image to enlarge. Unknown photographer.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      The Anderson Steamboat Co. followed the same year with the construction of the steam propeller ferry ISSAQUAH at its yard on the Lake. Designed by Capt. John Anderson, with several new features incorporated, including double runways for automobiles and teams on the lower deck, and an adjustable loading apron. The ferry was placed in service between Leschi Park and Newport, making a stop en route to Roanoke, Mercer Island. At Newport the ferry connected with the new state highway to Lake Sammamish, Fall City, Issaquah, North Bend and Snoqualmie. Following her successful trials, during which she was in charge of Capt. Anderson, she was commanded by Capt. Fred Wyman. The ferry steamer was equipped with a hardwood dance floor and made moonlight excursions on the lake after her regular scheduled crossings during the summer months. The operation of ferry vessels on the lake, frequently at a loss which was underwritten from tax revenues, by King County and the Port of Seattle, was rapidly making a private operation of passenger and ferry steamers economically unfeasible. The ISSAQUAH and the little steamer DAWN were the last vessels built by Capt. Anderson for his own use and the ISSAQUAH'S career in the Northwest was brief, being sold in 1918 to Klatt & Hanford as the first vessel of the Rodeo-Vallejo Ferry Co. operating across Carquinez Straits, CA. Later she was operated in conjunction with the pioneer Puget Sound ferry steamer CITY OF SEATTLE by the city of Martinez."
Above text from H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Editor, Gordon Newell. Superior Publishing. 1966

13 February 2018

❖ TWO MAP MAKERS ❖ 1946 with author/historian June Burn

Day 78
Shaw Island
San Juan Archipelago, WA.

Mapmaker Helene Graham (1881-1970)
A Wellesley College graduate who moved to Squaw Bay,
Shaw Island, the year of this photo in 1941.

Many years later, after at least one major renovation,
 the pioneer home was moved along the narrow road &
 across the cow pasture to Our Lady of the Rock Monastery.
Helene's first map was a sculpted version
of San Juan Archipelago,
as seen here photographed by
June Burn for her article, Day 78
of One Hundred Days in the San Juans
for the Seattle-P-I, published 1946.
Mildred Winter and I drive down a good graveled road back to the south shore of Shaw Island to visit the Grahams, to see her map. It is like the deep faraway countryside in here, no water visible anywhere, the little schoolhouse, where only two children go to school this year, standing all by itself in the woods.
       Some of the farms are enclosed by extra high fences against deer––a pest on this island, too.
      In no time at all, we swing down to Squaw Bay and stop in front of a yard so trim and tidy you would know it belonged to a civil engineer. Mr. Erret Graham is a retired railroad engineer from Indiana.
      You can tell how he loves this place, every stick of driftwood, every blade of grass. His woodshed is stacked with beach-combed sticks and more of them make a precise pile on the front porch. His workroom is filled with maps of the islands, detailed property maps a-making under his hand now, for he still surveys land [for San Juan County.] 
      From Mr. Graham's notes copied from the government survey of 1874, I learn that there were twelve families on Shaw at the time ( who were home at the time.) Oliver O' Hara was one of them. This Squaw Bay used to be called O' Hara Cove.
      Julien Laurence is mentioned as living on Blind Bay near where the Griswolds now live, Mr. Priceman near the present store on Blind Bay, Capt. C. C. Reed near where Dan Huff lives now. Who were the other settlers?
      Mrs. Helene Graham's map is here. This is what I came to see. Built up with contour sections of paper, thickened with a kind of rubbery plaster, the islands lie there as fat and sassy as if the tides washed there twice a day, too.
      Elevations are magnified four times to give them the look they have in life.
      Such gifted people on this small island. Busy creating beautiful things, their own orchardy place one of them. Old man O' Hara, your place has fallen into good hands.
      Mildred and I set out again, drive around another road back to the Biendls [John and Ruth.] Trees almost meet overhead.
      Thus in two days and two nights we have been clean around Shaw Island's 7.7 sq. miles.
      The 1874 government survey notes say that "the island contains sufficient good land for small farms but the larger portion is only good for sheep pastures." But McLellan, who gave it more study says it is the most heavily wooded of all the San Juan Islands.
      Shaw was named by the Wilkes Expedition in 1841 for a naval captain, John D. Shaw. Thirty families live here now--about 75 people in all. "People are going and coming so fast, it is hard to keep up with them," according to Mabel Crawford.
      The first Euro-American child was Emily Shaw Hudson (1886-1965) but she isn't an old woman by any means.
      The third and fourth and sometimes fifth generations of families which settled and left property and progeny are here now, recorded pioneers for researchers a hundred years hence!
      Goodbye, kind Mildred, Mrs. Ruth Biendl, and your beautiful farm. Goodbye, Shaw Island and all your friendly community. I climb and slide and almost don't get down this high bluff in a new place to find Farrar and the boat at the foot. It is lunchtime, but there's a breeze going our way. We'll sail and nibble as we sail--we're always eating!
      As we edge out from shore we look back down Blind Bay at the settlement built around that curve.
      "Now, we're leaving Shaw Island." I say and of course, Farrar says, "Oh, pshaw." (He can't help it.)
      See you tomorrow. June
Above words from Day 78 of 100 Days in the San Juans written by June Burn, for a series on contract with the Seattle P-I newspaper, 1946.

1946, May: Helene's well-known husband, Mr. Erret Graham, into his second career as an engineer, first began stamping his SJC survey papers this year with his new official seal, Prof. Eng #2081. For more local knowledge on the highly regarded, Old Town-canoeing-surveyor of San Juan County please see another Saltwater People post HERE

Shaw Island map (c. 18" x 24") drawn & 
hand-colored by the designer,
 Helene Graham, as a welcome gift for new residents.

The inscribed names are gone from the scene but at least
nine families have descendants still part of Shaw life,
one-half century later.
Click image to enlarge.
Map from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Circa one decade after the publication of this article by June Burn, Mrs. Graham centered her artistic talents on paper maps to document the property owners living on Shaw Island, as seen above. In 1959, Erret wrote in his diary that Helene had an original hand-drawn copy, done to a scale of 1' = 1200', prepared to mail to the Royal Blue Print Co in Seattle. The first print run was only ten copies but over the next several years she updated the landowners and hand-colored scores of maps to share as welcome gifts to new islanders and many friends throughout the county. There are still versions gracing the walls of island homes. 
      Helena taught mapmaking to the local Camp Fire Girls under the leadership of Gwen Yansen. She also lent a hand to Claire Tift and Earl Hoffman, sons of pioneers, when they were compiling the descriptive "Shaw Island of 1900 Map" sometimes on view in the Shaw Island Historical Museum.
      The fine contour map sculpted by Helene Graham (1881-1970) was donated to the Shaw Island Historical Museum in the 1990s by her scientist son, Ernest. Graham, also of Shaw Island. One of the property owners hand-colored maps has also been archived.

06 February 2018

❖ SCAYLEA: 50 YEARS of Honest History Records

Josef Scaylea
Courtesy of Josef Scaylea.com
Josef Scaylea spent a half-century photographing the scenery and faces that make the Northwest a rich, diverse place.
      His work behind the camera included 35 years at the Seattle Times, most as chief photographer, seven books, and more than 1,000 photography awards.
      I was highly overrated," Mr. Scaylea said in an interview, the twinkle in his eye indicating he was at least half-kidding. "I was very fortunate."
      So, too, were readers of The Seattle Times, where Mr. Scaylea's work, beginning in 1947, helped to bring magazine-style photography into weekend sections, onto the front page and, for years, onto a designated picture page.
      "Most any photograph can look good if you blow it up to eight columns," Mr. Scaylea joked.
Josef Scaylea
Loved to capture life below the
Montlake Bridge, Seattle, WA.
Dated August 1950

Low res scan from an original photograph from
the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

      Those who knew Mr. Scaylea best credit his success to the dedication and hard work, not luck. Luck couldn't account for being named West Coast Photographer of the Year 10 times, and being named one of the 10 top Press Photographers of the Nation––also 10 times.
      He pioneered pictorial photography and portrait photography for us," said James B. "Jim" King, retired Times executive editor. "He would go on a pictorial shoot and he would be given two or three days. People would say, 'Where's Joe?' But he would always bring back something great."
      Raised in South Glastonbury, Connecticut farmland by Italian-born parents, Mr. Scaylea developed an interest in photography as he wandered the hills and fields, captivated by the interplay between weather and terrain. Dense, textured clouds were among his favorite features.
      After attending a photography school in New York, he found that with a large number of photo-oriented magazines and trade publications in those days, markets were plentiful for photographers.
Lake Washington 
Josef Scaylea
Black tug, orange trim, 13 April 1952.
Click image to enlarge.
Low res scan from an original photo from the archives
of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      "Every big company had its own magazine. I did some work for Ford Times. You take a scenic photograph, and if they threw a new Ford in with it, that would help."
      Drafted into the military two days after the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 Dec 1941, Mr. Scaylea shot aerial battles in the Pacific for the Army Air Corps, footage over Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines that continues to show up in television documentaries. Stationed at Paine Field and Moses Lake, WA he discovered the great Northwest, vowing to make it home. He never left his Northwest home until he died at age 91.
      One Seattle Times photo that helped put Mr. Scaylea on the map was an overhead view of the UW crew team, shot from the Montlake Bridge. Look magazine named it the 1954 "Sports Photograph of the Year."
      Other magazines that published his work include Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post.
      Mr. Scaylea had suffered from heart disease and told friends that he had enjoyed his life and was ready to let go. And he demanded of a reporter "Don't make me look like a saint."
      Interpreting that remark, Mr. Scaylea's friend, nurse, driver, and business partner Jill Bennett said, "One could say that Josef's 'sainthood' was focused on shooting a technically precise and keenly interesting picture. He loved his subjects; he loved the Northwest. He was an eccentric––full of charm and an impatience for the ordinary."
Salmon fishing seiner near Pt. Roberts, WA.
Josef Scaylea
October 1979

Low res scan of an original photograph from the
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Although he photographed many scenes and circumstances, Mr. Scaylea said he never enjoyed photographing celebrities and avoided it as much as possible. 'I wanted to show real people; a farmer in the Palouse, a horse breaker in the Yakima Valley, a Scandinavian fisherman."
Portrait of Capt. Adrian Raynaud
Falls of Clyde in background, Seattle, WA.
Dated 1963
By Josef Scaylea.

Low res scan from an original photo from the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

      In recent years, Bennett drove Mr. Scaylea to some of his favorite spots so he could continue to photograph them even as his health declined. We'd take trips to the Skagit every spring. Grayland in the summer. Leavenworth in the fall. He'd always say on the way; 'This year's going to be my last trip here.' He said that every year, every trip."
      And he loved to pass along this bit of wisdom to people both in and out of photography; "There are no great photographers," he'd say, "There are only great subjects."
Words by Jack Broom. Seattle Times, 21 July 2004, on the occasion of Scaylea's death at age 91 years. Photograph source as noted.

01 February 2018

❖ With McDonald at the Patos Island Light Station ❖ 1959

Patos Island Light Station,
an active aid to navigation in the San Juan Islands.
Active Cove is a favorite anchorage of fishermen and
yachtsmen and the historic place for unloading supplies
from the Coast Guard vessels. 

Photograph by the US Coast Guard.
Patos Island was discovered by a Spanish explorer in 1791. We trailed local author June Burn when she visited the island for an article for her 100 Days in the San Juans series for the Seattle P-I in 1946. Let's return with well-known historian/journalist Lucile McDonald when she stopped to visit the resident Coast Guard crew manning the station in the summer of 1959.

 "The island was named Patos, meaning "ducks," in 1791 by a rain-drenched Spanish explorer trying to pilot his schooner through the tidal currents in the southern reaches of Georgia Strait.
      Patos, northernmost of the San Juan Islands, is known to most boaters as the site of the lighthouse, the most important one in the archipelago. Though its lantern is of the fourth order (40,000 candlepower) and only 38' above the ground, it is a beam visible to southbound mariners for a long distance.
      Since the entire island on which the beacon stands is a lighthouse reserve, there are no other occupants of its 206 acres. A lone cabin is said to have stood in the woods near the east end years ago, a relic of an elderly squatter. No trace of his house remains.
      Patos Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1893 and rebuilt in 1908. A radio beacon was installed by the Coast Guard in 1937 and the station's fog signal was modernized in 1958.
      New living quarters went up in 1958 where the garden for the keepers' two-story duplex had been. The old house was torn down and now the four coastguardsmen residing at Patos have the most modern apartments of any light station in WA. Two of the men of the crew like the island so well they are on their second tour of duty there.
      Patos most of the year has a pleasant climate and summer brings it, numerous visitors. Nearly 350 called last year, attracted by the sheltered anchorage in Active Cove, just south of the light.
      Active Cove was named for the first American survey vessel operating in these waters. Alden Point, where the lighthouse stands, was listed by that name on an 1858 chart in honor of Lieut. Alden, who commanded the steamship ACTIVE. 
      Government records show that the ACTIVE in 1853 conducted reconnaissance in WA Territory, chiefly in the Gulf of Georgia. She refueled at the Bellingham Bay and Nanaimo coal mines, receiving the cargo from Indian canoes at the latter place.
      The ACTIVE also was employed in Haro and Rosario Straits in 1854.
      In 1858 Alden and his ship were in the service of the Boundary Commission. This was the vessel's last season in the Puget Sound area.
      A part of the time a land party under James S. Lawson occupied a survey station on the east point of Patos Island. The steamship, meanwhile, made hydrographic studies along Canada's Saturna Island. Charts of that year labeled the Canadian Gulf Islands as part of the Washington Coast.
L-R: H. D. McDonald, Seattle, and
D. A. Nelson, engineman second class, USCG.
Hunting fossils in the sandstone of the
west side of Patos Island.

This photo is from the archives of the 
Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Alden's reconnaissance served for more than 100 years, except for some minor additions in 1891, when a formal survey was conducted. 
      This year the US Coast and Geodetic Survey is checking again, completing the resurvey of San Juan waters which began some years ago. Only the south end of Georgia Strait remains to be covered.
      Two members of a survey crew moved to Patos Island 1 May to operate a short-range electronic-control station here in conjunction with another at Point Roberts. The survey ship HODGSON also is working in the area.
      When the 1859 surveys are finished, tidal-current charts can be used for the entire San Juan Archipelago, an aid to small-boat navigation for which there have been many requests.
      Like other lighthouses, Patos maintains a guest book, which reflects the changes in social life at the station. Visitors are rare when the book began in 1895. They were limited mainly to inhabitants of nearby islands. Among the regular callers was the lightkeeper at East Point on Saturna Island, a beacon which antedates Patos.
       With last year's improvements, the old generators in the tower were removed and new ones were installed permitting the use of electrical appliances in the homes. 
      A major problem still to be solved is that of obtaining a supply of water. The well at the station became polluted several years ago when diesel oil tanks leaked into it.
      Part of the joy of living on the island is derived from the abundance of sea life found there. In spring the ground is carpeted with wildflowers. 
      Directly in front of the lighthouse are heavy tide rips and whirlpools, in contrast to the sheltered water of Active Cove. Both customs vessels and Coast Guard craft have lain in the tiny harbor in years past, waiting for smugglers rumored to be abroad.
      This little cove is a great asset to the light station. Minnie's Beach, at the east end, got its name from a lightkeeper's wife who liked to sun herself there.
      The cove was the scene of many episodes described by Helen Glidden in her book, The Light on the Island. The author's father was Edward Durgan, a keeper who moved with his wife and 13 children to Patos in August 1905. He already had lived at the lighthouse for a period some years earlier.
       In those days the place was extremely isolated and keepers rowed to the mainland or to Orcas Island to supply their needs. They were out of luck in emergencies. Three of the Durgan children died because of the difficulty in obtaining medical aid promptly.
       This can't happen today. A few weeks ago Mrs. C. P. Geer, wife of one of the keepers, caught a hand in her washing machine. A few minutes later a Navy helicopter from Whidbey Island landed behind the light, picked her up and transported her to Oak Harbor, where she transferred to an airplane and went to a Seattle hospital. She was back home before the day was over." 

1959, June: Above text was written by Lucile S. McDonald for the Seattle Times.
She wrote or co-authored 28 books; her archives have been donated to the Special Collections Division, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

1974: The Light was automated.

1974: Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission began operating Patos Island as a State Park, under a lease from the Bureau of Land Management.
The 207-acre State Marine Park with 20,000 ft of saltwater shoreline is owned by the BLM. The State Parks maintains 2 mooring buoys and a 1.5-mi loop trail open year round, according to their website which can be viewed here

1977: The Patos Island Light Station was listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. 

2007: A Non-Profit Keepers of Patos Light was organized by two friends. Look at the work they have managed with a group of volunteers. 
Photographs from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

30 January 2018

❖ 4 Million Dollars worth of DRYDOCK ❖ 1954

The largest concrete drydock built to date in the USA.
Seattle, WA. 1954.

Click image to enlarge.
Original wire photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Tugs slowly inch a huge 400-foot floating dry dock, made of enough concrete to cover an acre of ground five inches thick. Through the drawbridges in Seattle, en route to a shipyard for fittings. The $4,157,000 oceanic dock, the largest of its kind ever built in this country, will be turned over to the Navy after being outfitted with necessary equipment, including crew's quarters and gun emplacements.

25 January 2018


1,476.83 G.t.
Built by Coaster Construction Co of Montrose, Scotland. 
 She was designed for Union Steamships, Ltd,  
steaming to work on the B.C. coast by 7/12/1925.
Photo postcard from the Clinton H. Betz collection,
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

S.S. CATALA operated passenger and freight service from Vancouver to Ocean Falls and Bella Coola. With other vessels of the Union Steamships the tramp steamer served many ports on the northern B.C. coast, stopping at logging camps and canneries. 

1962: After her long career she was purchased by Catala Enterprises, organized by the MacPherson real estate interests of Seattle & Gray's Harbor, WA. After a thorough refurnishing and interior renovations to 52 staterooms, a restaurant, and lounge which made her more luxurious than at any time in her long career, she was towed to Seattle arriving in April as the first of the hotel ships. Returns were disappointing and all 3 vessels withdrew before the end of the fair.* The CATALA was sold to California owners for use as a floating resort, but payments were not maintained.
1963:  She was reclaimed by MacPherson and returned to the PNW, being moored as a fisherman's hotel at Ocean Shores development on Gray's Harbor, her last stop.
Above text from H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Newell, Gordon, editor. 

The old and the new at the Ocean Shores Marina.
Photo by Kyle Smith.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

On New Year's Eve in 1965, with 70-mile-an-hour winds, 
the good ship was driven ashore. She filled with sand  
and water and was a picturesque wreck. 
In 2001, the late historian Gene Woodwick reported that 
"a storm exposed the keel and frames of the CATALA so 
she could resume her service as a maritime relic."

Click to enlarge this photo by Dale Swanson.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

* According to the Gene Woodwick, all three ships acting as hotels for Seattle's World Fair stayed for the duration of the Fair with the CATALA being the only one to earn a profit.
Thanks to reader K Pool, click on this link for more information about this vessel.

22 January 2018


Inscription on reverse of the above photo.

"A thrilling tale was unfolded by the exhausted officers and crew of the American ship REUCE, in command of Capt. F. B. Dinsmore, which unexpectedly put into Sydney yesterday in distress.
      The vessel sailed from Newcastle last week with a cargo of coal consigned to San Francisco. When about 300 miles on her journey, almost due east of Sydney Heads, the REUCE was assailed by strong southeasterly and north-easterly gales, and she was hove-to under lower topsails. The gale increased in violence and terrific seas were running, the result being that the vessel was strained severely. Suddenly she took a list to starboard, and all hands were engaged for some hours in trimming the cargo to right the ship.
      To the dismay of all on board, when the wells were sounded, it was found that there were 4 feet of water in the holds. All the pumps were manned, and for a time the inflow was kept in check. The steam pumps worked by the donkey-engine then became deranged, and the handpump had to be solely relied upon. The REUCE continued to labour heavily, and all hands were called upon to work night and day. The position became even more critical when the hand-pump broke down owing to the packing carrying away. By this time the water had increased to 5ft 9 inches. After a few hours work, the carpenter succeeded in repairing the pump, and the volume of water was temporarily reduced. Eventually, the hand-pump was worked by the captain and the cabin boy, while the sailors were employed below in trimming the shifted cargo. No sooner had the REUCE been righted, then she gave a sudden lurch, and her cargo moved over to the other side.
      For several days all the sailors and some of the officers were engaged in moving the coal cargo, while the remainder of the ship's company took their turn at the hand-pumps. When the gales moderated the REUCE had 5' 3" of water in her holds, but the pump again became disabled, and the water continued to gain on the vessel. The master then resolved to make for Sydney, the nearest port, and much to the relief of all on board favourable winds were met with on the run back. By Sunday the depth of water had increased to 5' 5", and when the REUCE entered the Heads shortly before midday yesterday the soundings gave 5' 9".
      The pumps were still in operation last night on board the REUCE at her anchorage below Garden Island, but until a survey has been made the leak cannot be located. The REUCE is a wooden vessel of 1925 tons gross, and 1601 tons net, and was built in 1881 by Mr. Thompson at Kennebunk, Maine. She is owned by the Californian Shipping Co of San Francisco, at which port she is registered."
Above text from Sydney Morning Herald 26 May 1908.
Courtesy of the National Library of Australia 

Inscription on the reverse of the above photo.
1889: Known among seamen in her Cape Horn days as the "Hungry REUCE." Late in this year she arrived in San Francisco with 17 of her crew down with scurvy. 
1891: It was charged this year that a seaman was trussed up to the mizzen stay off Cape Horn by the mates and later drowned while attempting to escape.
1917: after 30 years serving from San Francisco, REUCE was taken from Oakland mudflats and put into cannery service by Columbia-Pacific Packers of Portland, OR.
1922: the old wooden ship REUCE of the C.R. Packers was sold for the Oriental Lumber trade, although she had a sideline––a still being found turning out bootleg whiskey on board.
1924: REUCE was wrecked 10 Feb on the coast of Japan.

19 January 2018



Original 1927 photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Click image to enlarge.
"The Skansie Bros. Shipyard was established at Gig Harbor, WA, specializing in the construction of the heavy-duty gasoline vessels which were fast replacing other types in the fishing industry of the Northwest.
      The first craft built by the Skansie brothers, Peter, Andrew, Mitchell, and Joseph, at their new shipyard was the 65-ft fishing vessel OCEANIA, launched in May 1912, and designed for their own fishing fleet. The brothers were said to have built the first gasoline launch for seine fishing on Puget Sound while other fishermen were still using oar-powered skiffs. The brothers learned the shipbuilding trade in Europe. 
L-R: Mitchell Skansie, President
I. C. Rowland, Vice-President
with Mr. Rowland's free pass for
Washington Navigation Company, hardly needed 

for this day of sea-trials,  2 April 1927.
Launching photographs of M.V. DEFIANCE are below.

 original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Mitchell Skansie was the major owner of the young shipyard and the upcoming ferry company. In 1921 he established the Steilacoom-Long Branch ferry, adding the Fox Island ferry in 1924. In 1926 he organized the Washington Navigation Company of which he was 93% owner, taking over the county ferries operating between Tacoma, Gig Harbor, and Vashon Island, thus gaining control of the entire ferry system then operating in Pierce County." H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the PNW. Newell, Gordon, editor. 
1927: The launching of the M.V. DEFIANCE, Gig Harbor, WA. 
Flags flying for the launching of DEFIANCE
444 G.t. 295 N.t.
156' x 49.2' x 13.6'
Original photo inscribed, 16 January 1927 

from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Launching of DEFIANCE 
16 January 1927
Skansie Brothers Shipyard
Gig Harbor, WA.
Dated original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Getting her two new Fairbanks-Morse engines 
three months after launching in 1927.
Mitchell Skansie standing by on the right
Dated original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Steaming into her old home port of Gig Harbor in 1931.
Not many cars aboard but lots of steam.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
1921: Little motor ferry ELK was built by the Skansie Bros. Shipyard for service on the Steilacoom-Longbranch route under contract to Pierce County. Later she was named AIRLINE. She was scrapped in 1938.
66.8' x 22.8' x 8.9'
77 G.t. / 52 N.t.
Indicated HP 100
In this photo she is leaving Longbranch, WA on the 3:30 trip
18 June 1923.

Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
1930: By this year, Mitchell Skansie owned 7 ferries operating on 4 routes.
1940: "The spectacular collapse of the Washington State Highway Department's first suspension bridge across the Puget Sound Narrows at Tacoma early in the year, resulted in the resumption of the ferry service that had been discontinued there following the completion of the bridge. Bids were submitted to the highway department by William Skansie of Gig Harbor (WA. Navigation Co.) and Capt. John L. Anderson. The Anderson bid was the lower of the two, but it was claimed that it did not meet contract specifications and the award was made to Skansie. The ferries SKANSONIA, CITY OF TACOMA, and DEFIANCE maintained this service for the ten years between the collapse of the first ill-fated bridge, and the completion of a new $18,000,000 span to replace it." 
H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW. Newell, G. editor. 

Thank you, Captain Mike Boyle, for the help with this post.

For more history from this well-known immigrant family's hometown, please see a Harbor History Museum blog post along with other links they have included HERE

Archived Log Entries