|Overboard with the contraband.|
Illustration from Calkins' HIGH TIDE.
"The white-winged sailing ships of the Northwestern Fisheries Co were loading for the Alaska canneries. The HUMBOLDT was at Pier 7, that famous wharf where the gold ship PORTLAND startled the world by dumping a ton of Klondyke gold.
|Gold Ship S.S. PORTLAND,|
arriving Seattle, WA. from the North, 1907.
As I headed for the waterfront, I set a course down Second Avenue. At the New York Block, I entered the offices of the Humboldt Steamship Co. Behind the counter were Max Kalish and Floyd Bush, who, with their lone wooden vessel, which later became famous as the Alaska gold ship, were meeting the competition of rich and powerful companies. I introduced myself and received my first story as a marine editor––the passenger list of the HUMBOLDT. I had begun a career which served me through the shifting scenes of port development, the organization of new shipping companies and the expansion of Seattle into a world port with ship lines operating to the seven seas.
When a baby swallowed a button, it was first-page news. Quite often during the racing season, the entire marine report was thrown out and the space used for the Longacres results. On Sundays, the marine department was buried behind ten pages of classified advertising. The editors evidently believed the harbor was only useful as a place to hold salmon derbies.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, a shroud of censorship was placed over marine news by the Army and the Navy, and it looked as if marine editors were to be as extinct as the dodo. However, as America moved into the war with every ounce of her energy, the shipping industry became of vast importance.
On 25 Sept 1945, a typical wartime day, there were 84 vessels on Puget Sound, according to the daily vessel-movement report of the 13th Naval District.
These are only a few of the storms I weathered as I kept uppermost in my mind the belief that the waterfront, with ships plying to nearly every part of the world, brings new money to Seattle, provides employment to large numbers of men and gives the city an international prestige that only the sea can bestow. Thus I, a former Ohio newspaperman, have given my best efforts to make Seattle sea-minded and to make her realize the importance of world commerce to the prosperity of her citizens."
And here is a little more about the enhanced prosperity of a citizen who settled early to raise his family on the small island of Shaw in the San Juan Archipelago, not far from Seattle. A judge at the federal court was waiting––
"Bizarre attempts to smuggle opium, Chinese, and wool into the US and how Puget Sound virtually was made narcotic proof by two government officers many years ago make up one of the most colorful stories in Pacific Northwest shipping.
It was on 13 May 1905 that the government carried into execution long-studied plans to break up the smuggling of wool from Canada to Puget Sound, which was assuming major proportions.
Wool was 22¢ a pound higher in the US than in Canada and successful smugglers reaped a big profit.
|Map of the San Juan Islands|
from the 1930 Souvenir Year Book
Published by San Juan County
Friday Harbor, WA.
Click image to view
South Pender Island, B.C.
The two inspectors drifted in their boat off Port Townsend until after dark and then headed for Canada.
The boat had two pair of oars and carried a sail, and although the progress was slow, she was able to reach Sydney, Vancouver Island [B.C.]
Visting all of the islands, in the vicinity of Sydney and several sheep ranches, the inspectors told the farmers they were on a vacation, seeing the country and doing a little sealing. In a short time, they had visited all of the ranches suspected of being operated by wool smugglers.
Their pockets were full of –– wooden pins used in securing meat to form ––and while the ranchers, who were shearing sheep, were not looking, the inspectors placed them in the fleece.
Ballanger and Dean became acquainted with a man by the name of Alfred Burke. They found him loading wool at South Pender Island, B.C., and followed him.
|Steamboat landing, store, post office, warehouse |
Orcas Island, WA.
Location of the sacks of smuggled wool from B.C.
Click image to enlarge.
A scan of an original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
|On right: US Revenue Cutter|
Scan of an original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historial Society©
The ARCATA loaded the huge sacks of wool, which measured about 7-ft in length and three feet in diameter. There was so much wool on the deck of the ARCATA that it reached almost to the smokestack. The wool was landed in Pt. Townsend, where it was sold at a government auction.
Burke was arrested and tried in Seattle on a charge of smuggling, but the judge ruled he was not really seen crossing the border with the wool and he was found not guilty because of insufficient evidence.
There were the days of "Pig Iron" Kelly and Larry Kelly, notorious opium smugglers when it was lawful to import the drug if the duty of $12 a pound was paid.
There was an opium plant in Victoria, known as the Ly Yuen factory and one in Vancouver, known as the Ty Yuen factory. Crude opium from India and China was cooked and made into round chunks as big as a bowling ball. The opium, the gum, and the sap of the poppy were put into a copper pan over a charcoal fire. As it cooked, it was stirred and skimmed by the Chinese.
Big traffic in opium developed. Firemen on ships had pockets in the back of their vests in which they carried the opium. They wore large box-hanging coats to conceal the drug and carried between ten and twelve cans. The smugglers, obtaining the opium in BC, made about $5 a pound by avoiding the duty.
Then came the embargo against opium and the drug reached the coast on ships from the Orient. The CG began trailing vessels arriving from China and India as they came up the Sound.
Smugglers of Chinese did not stop at anything if they believed they were trapped. They threw the Chinese overboard when they saw a CG cutter approaching. Those who got through landed on a lonely beach and walked until the boat operator met a confederate.
Smugglers usually received from $100 to $500 a head for the successful delivery of Chinese in the US.
Retiring from the Coast Guard, Admiral Munter 'dropped anchor' here and made his home in Seattle. During his long tour of duty, Admiral Munter served 34 years in ships of the old Revenue Cutter Service and the Coast Guard. He was a lieutenant in the cutter GRANT on Puget Sound during the winter of 1902 and 1903, made cruises in the cutter MANNING to the Bering and Honolulu, and in 1925, visited Seattle as a member of a Coast Guard board. He served nearly 45 years of Coast Guard service.
Ballanger retired in 1946, after 45 years in the US Customs Service."
Sources: R.H. "Skipper" Calkins, High Tide. Marine Digest Publishing Co, Inc. Seattle, WA. 1952. 356 pages/Out of print.
US Federal Court records. Alfred Burke. From the National Archives Record Administration, Seattle, WA.