"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

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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.

13 September 2018


As I write about gold diggers on the
Olympic Peninsula of Washington State ...
GOLD was discovered, perhaps worth millions in Euros,
by digging at the site of a historic theatre,
Cuomo, Itlay. (Above & below.)

Reported 16 September 2018
Just discovered but not on the Olympic Peninsula.
These two photos from the Italian Ministry of Culture
It seems every pioneer community has a story of gold, perhaps not quite as exciting as these Roman coins in Italy. Often the legend is as buried as the hidden treasure. Once in the hands of successful miners, thieving pirates, or train robbers––here is a story of three Seattle businessmen who were digging for gold, turning the earth near Port Townsend, WA., in one of man's loftiest dreams––the search for buried treasure.

L-R: Leo Wendland, Dan Thumbert,
Philip W. Bailey and George G. Albert
Low res scan of an original photo from the
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

      "Bright in the minds of the searchers was a vision of $60,000 in gold sovereigns supposedly buried over 100 years ago on property later occupied by Chevy Chase Inn on Discovery Bay, six miles west of Port Townsend.

      Shirts open at the throat and perspiring in the warm July day, the Seattle men labored with picks and shovels.
      Finding the treasure will entail more muscle work, for it would weigh about 265 pounds.
      Natives learned of the treasure hunt, although the optimistic searchers have made every effort to keep their toil a secret during the past week.
      They also tried––unsuccessfully to hide their identities, but too many curious persons found out that the three were:
      Leo Wendland, Dan Thumbert, and George G. Albert, all Seattle men, and all indefatigable nearby residents could not find out if Wendland, Albert, and Thumbert had occupations.
      "All we know," said the natives, "is that their business is finding gold––or at least looking for it."
But if mystery shrouded some of the activity, there was no secret about the story of the buried gold.
      Perhaps legendary, perhaps factual, the tale is included in several histories of Washington State.
      Chevy Chase Inn is owned by Phillip W. Bailey, president of a shingle company in Ballard, who gave the searchers sole rights for exploring the property.
      Mary Chase, who operated the Inn for a half century, heard the story from her stepfather, A. F. Tukey, who homesteaded the property in 1851.
      Thirteen years later, a paymaster for a railroad being built in British Columbia absconded with the monthly payroll, all in gold English sovereigns. He hired Indians from a village near Victoria to row him across the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Discovery Bay and put him ashore on the Tukey land.
      Presently the paymaster went to the Tukey farmhouse, asked for a horse to ride into Port Townsend and galloped away. At Pt. T. he boarded the night boat for Seattle.
      BC authorities meantime sent a fast cutter to Pt. Townsend and offered a reward for catching the paymaster. The Seattle-bound vessel's captain guessing he had the man aboard, headed for Victoria instead of Seattle and in no time the paymaster was in the custody of Canadian officials.
      The man died in a jail cell, never telling what became of the gold.
      A detachment of Canadian soldiers went to Discovery Bay, searched the property but found none of the treasure. 
      Throughout the years, there have been several hunts for the gold. The diligent Seattle men started excavations on the Chevy Chase golf course, worked with detecting devices and knowledge gained from history books. They are not only certain they'll find the gold, they're certain their rainbow is close at hand."
Text from The Seattle Times. 2 July 1944.


09 September 2018


On the Log this year we have been trap fishing with early San Juan county pioneers Henry Cayou and the Troxell family, we've been reefnet fishing with Charlie Chevalier at Stuart Island, with the Yansen brothers at Squaw Bay, with the natives at Lummi, we've been to Bristol with the bark BERLIN, sternwheeling on the Columbia River, we've learned of the crew in four feet of water in the hold of the REUCE. Here are some fishers who are in a few feet of water all for the fun of it.
The Kings are coming home, the Kings are coming home.
A favorite spot on the Samish River, Skagit County, WA.
Click image to enlarge.
Near Edison, WA.
click image to enlarge.
Standing by, same time, same fishing spot.
All photos courtesy of  Lance Douglas,
Blakely Island, WA.

Thanks for these beautiful shots, Lance.

The Samish River is approximately 25 miles (40 km) long, in northwestern Washington in the United States. The river drains an area of 139 square miles (360 km) between the Skagit River basin on the south and the Nooksack River basin on the north. The Samish River originates on a low divide in Whatcom County, and its tributary, Friday Creek, originates in the hills south of Bellingham. The river continues its southwesterly flow through Skagit County and outlets into Samish Bay in Puget Sound.
      The Samish River supports a large variety of fish and is home to one of Washington's larger fall King Salmon runs. The Samish River has runs of five Salmon and three trout species including Spring/Winter Steelhead, Summer Sockeye, Fall Chinook/Chum/Coho, and year-round runs of Cutthroat, and Dolly Varden. Also documented are Pink Salmon which, while rare, do arrive in small numbers to spawn in the Samish.
      There are two fish hatcheries supporting the Samish River. One located in the upper Samish directly below the mouth of Friday Creek, and another several miles up Friday Creek. Both hatcheries raise Fall Chinook and can process over 10,000,000 salmon smolt a year, 5-20,000 of those returning 1–5 years later to spawn as adults.

Text from Wikipedia accessed 9 Sept. 2018

28 August 2018


Deer Harbor wooden boat entries,
1938 Spidsgatter PIA and salty friends,
sailing their annual race 4 Sept. 2018.
Here they can be seen with Reef Island
in the background & Neck Point on the right.

Photo courtesy of Jason Hines, SVALE, Shaw Island, SJC.
Deer Harbor Wooden Boat Society
sponsored sail race today, 4 Sept. 2018.
Yellow Island in the background.
Photo courtesy of Jason Hines, SVALE, Shaw Island, SJC.
He catches up with the fleet at Watmough Bay,
Point Colville, Lopez Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
before the vessels cross
the Straits of Juan de Fuca for the 42nd annual

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show   this upcoming weekend.
Happy Sails.
Deer Harbor 
Wooden Boat Rendezvous
3-5 September 2018.
Scroll down for details.

Please join us! All wooden boats are welcome: oar, power, sail, and steam. Wooden boats of all sizes attend the Rendezvous including kayaks, rowboats, motor launches, day-sailers, cruising sailboats and historic tall ships. Most boats moor at the Deer Harbor Marina and are available for public viewing at no charge. The Rendezvous is a low-key celebration of wooden boats, held in one of the most scenic harbors in the Pacific Northwest. Activities include the following:
Monday (Sept 3) 

Most boats will arrive by late afternoon. We will hold an informal potluck on the dock at about 6:30 pm.
Tuesday (Sept 4)

- Sailboat race starting at noon on Tuesday (instructions below). Please attend the skippers meeting at 9 am on the dock!
- Paddle/row race, starting at 4 pm 

- Dinner and music! The Rendezvous Dinner this year will be simpler, more affordable, and located on the floats at Deer Harbor Marina starting at 5:30 pm. Grilled salmon, ice cream, beer, and wine will be available at a reasonable cost. Please bring your favorite side dishes to share in a potluck. We anticipate a great time and look forward to seeing many old friends and some new ones too.
Contact the Deer Harbor Marina at (360) 376-3037 to reserve a slip for the Rendezvous.
Questions? Email us at wbs.sji@gmail.com

24 August 2018


A trap on a serene day
Posted in 1925.
"In the last few decades of the 1800s many salmon canneries were being built in a tri-county area consisting of Whatcom, San Juan, and Skagit. By 1900 we had two of the largest salmon canneries in the world. These were Pacific American Fisheries (PAF), the largest located in Fairhaven and Alaska Packers Association (APA) located in Blaine.
Pacific American Fisheries*
purchased Eliza Island, Bellingham Bay, WA, in 1899.
They built a new cannery on-site without fresh water
on the island, so from 1900 to 1930 they changed plans
and operated a shipyard to build smaller vessels
& fishing equipment. Marine ways & pile drivers in view.

From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

P.A.F. Cannery
Fairhaven, Whatcom County, WA.
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.

P.A.F. painting crew.
There was a job for everyone as the author writes 
in the last paragraph.
Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Alaska Packers Association
Blaine, Whatcom County, WA.
Click image to enlarge.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Point Roberts, Whatcom County, WA.
The pile driver is in view, left of center.

Click image to enlarge.
Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Other canneries, some of them quite large were being built in Anacortes and Friday Harbor.

Apex, Sanitary Fish, FIC
Canneries lined the waterfront
Fidalgo Island, Skagit County, WA.
Manhattan Packing, 
On the other side of the Straits in Port Angeles,
Clallam County, WA.
Litho photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      In order to supply these canneries a large number of salmon needed to be caught. The salmon certainly were available in large numbers. The solution was the use of salmon traps, commonly known as fish traps. Most of the traps were owned by the canneries, but there were a few independent owners. The traps were very efficient; the salmon in most cases came into the traps in large numbers. All the canneries had to do was take the fish out of the traps and into the cannery to be processed. The traps did, however, need a lot of material and equipment to put them in and take them out.
Trap fishers at work
Click image to enlarge

      The traps consisted of four parts: the lead, heart, pot, and the spiller. The lead was a line of piles driven about ten to fifteen feet apart in a straight line across the tidal stream that carried the salmon. On this line of piling, wire was attached from high water to the bottom. These leads were designed to lead salmon into deeper water and into the heart. By law, they were limited to 2,500 feet in length. The heart was web hung on piling and led the salmon to a funnel-shaped tunnel about ten feet on the outside, to a much smaller one on the inside.
      This tunnel led into the pot where the salmon couldn’t find their way out. The pot was a huge bag hung on pilings about forty feet by forty feet and deep enough to hold up to 70,000 salmon. It was made out of heavy duty cotton web heavily tarred. By law, the pot could not be over 65’ at low water. From the pot the salmon were turned into the spiller, a bag much like the pot but smaller. It had a large apron style brailer that was used to roll the salmon onto scows. The power for this brailer came from the trap tender. The men it took to brail the salmon usually came with tender or sometimes they stayed on the beach in shacks. Eight to ten men were needed. The trap tenders were more like tugs and usually had small fish holds because most of the fish went into scows for transport to the canneries.
Returning with a scow of salmon
with calm water and a big crew.
Click image to enlarge.
Low res scan from an original photo
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      The equipment used to install the traps in the spring and take them out in the fall was extensive and expensive. They needed pile drivers, pile pullers, rigging, scows, web yards, sheds, and of course, tugboats and scows. The pile drivers used were usually with 80’ gins and three-ton drop hammers. They were all steam powered. The high gins were needed because many of the piles they drove were very long. To drive in 65 feet you need a pile sometimes 100’ depending on penetration. Many of the pile drivers had sleeping and eating accommodations aboard, all the comforts of home along with bedbugs and other cooties.
      Once the pilings were in, the rigging scow took over to hang the wire and web. The pile pullers were only needed in the fall to extract all the piles driven and to store them. Many were stored along the outside beaches at San Juan Park, at Jakle’s Lagoon and also in Mitchell Bay. They were still there two decades after 1934. Friday Harbor Packing Co had a web house and a web yard on what is now called Web St. Here they tossed the web and built parts they needed to build the traps and to store them during the offseason.
"Fish traps on the west side of San Juan Island"
San Juan Archipelago, WA.
As inscribed verso.
Photographer unknown.
Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      The most important thing to have a successful salmon trap was its location. They needed to be placed where large numbers of salmon passed by and where it was possible to build the traps. They needed shallow water shorelines that dropped off gradually. Shorelines that dropped sharply in water 65’ were out of the question. It so happened that the Salmon Bank at the southeast end of San Juan Island was ideal. The bank runs one and one-half nautical miles south to a navigational buoy, from there it curves back towards shore, but at the same time continues westward to Eagle Point.
      Friday Harbor Packing had traps in this area along with the giants mentioned earlier, PAF and APA and others as well. There was a trap west of Eagle Point at False Bay. This trap belonged to independent operator Henry Cayou. This trap was a big producer of King salmon. Henry had a Salish mother and had that I ate understanding of the characteristics and movement of salmon. This made him a great fisherman. He was also a wise businessman and an all-around fine gentleman. He had other traps in other locations as well.
      One further up Haro Strait at Deadman’s Bay, and another one at Mitchell Bay owned by Cayou and Haroldson. There was also a trap at Battleship Island that was put in by an Anacortes outfit, probably Lowman’s Coastal Fish Co. The tidal currents were so strong there it was very difficult to install or to keep in place. It was a big disappointment because it mostly caught Humpbacks. The canneries at that time didn’t keep this species. Next in line was a trap at John’s Island, owner unknown to this writer. There were many more traps in the area, too many to list here. The traps mentioned were typical of them all and were close to home for the people living on San Juan Is.
Watchman's shack on a fish trap.
Low res scan of an original photo, pre-1912, from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      These were exciting times with men taking big risks to get in on the action. A few of these men who should be mentioned were the fish pirates that wanted to dip into the spiller and dip in they did. Each trap had a watchman who stayed in a little shack right on the trap in most cases. He was to watch out for predators and junk getting fouled in the tunnel. Some of the predators were very tough characters. They didn’t want to hurt anyone, they just wanted some fish. Men like Spider Jones offered bribes of money to watchmen so they would just turn their heads. Some others like “Dirty” Dick, were more threatening, as in bodily harm. Still, others had made their deals with higher-ups in the company and were expected by the watchmen. It was rumored that one of the last mentioned men went on to be a big processor himself in Alaska in later years.
The well-known Fish Tender NEREID
O.N. 209491
Her Master's Carpenter Certificate
 lists her as built by Albert Jensen, Friday Harbor,
 for himself, 14 Dec. 1911.
The same year he sold her to Friday Harbor Packing Co,
where she is moored in the undated photo.
The mariners are Earl Fowler (L) who 
was an engineer on board in 1923 along with his 
lifelong friend, George Stillman, both of pioneer 
families of Shaw Island, SJC.
John Mathisen, who emigrated from Norway,
trap fished for his first employment in this country
 and Art Hoffman both from Shaw
were captain and engineer of the NEREID in her fish 
buying days in the county.
Bottom photo courtesy of the Fowler family.
       These were exciting times alright, there were fortunes to be made and fortunes being lost. Everyone had an opportunity to have a job in a great industry. It lasted through the turn of the century, through the “Roaring Twenties” and into the first few years of the “Great Depression.” This was a period of about 45 years. The end came for the fish traps in 1934. By an act of the WA State legislature, the traps were outlawed and could no longer be used. There were several reasons for their actions, but two of them were that the State could not regulate them well enough for conservation. And the purse seiners who had become a big industry themselves complained that the traps were unfair to them because they were taking most of the fish and were a monopoly. Some of the canneries couldn’t survive the loss of the traps, but many others had good fleets of fishing boats and were able to go on."
Above text by John Wade. 4 November 2010.
The Fishermen and the Fisheries of the San Juan Islands with Terry Jackson and Wally Botsford.
The 20 images paired with the text are from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.
* More in-depth history of Pacific American Fisheries can be seen on this State Archives site. Scroll down to "History Note."

16 August 2018

❖ Early Fishing Harbor of Richardson, Lopez Island ❖ with Beryl Troxell Mason

Looking down the hill to Richardson on the
 coast of Lopez Island.
Photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
“One should not leave the decade of 1910-1920 without investigating the role of the Richardson store in the life of Lopez. Norman Hodgson had been the storekeeper and postmaster and dock owner for what seemed to me then a long time, since before my birth. He stocked staple goods, hardware, and yard goods. He had candy and cookies in glass-fronted bins near the entrance. His office and the post office were in the rear of the building that sat above the road on the top of the rock.
The Hodgson-Graham Store
Richardson, Lopez Island, WA.
L-R: Bertha Benson, hired staff,
Norman Hodgson, Jr, and Lottie Hodgson. 

Click image to enlarge.
C. 1908 original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

      The front porch was high enough above the road so that one could step out of the wagon or buggy onto the porch. He even sold meat upon occasion: pork that had been slaughtered just down the hill beyond the store. I can still hear the squealing of the stuck pig that led this curious child beyond the store in time towards while a tremendous hog was scalded in a huge steaming vat with a roaring fire below it. Then the hog was hoisted from the vat and edged onto a platform where men worked with brushes to de-hair the hide.
      Along about 1915 or 1916 Norman Hodgson, then also the County Road Commissioner for Lopez Island and a farmer, sold the Richardson store-dock-post office to a partnership of Crawford and Lundy from Seattle.
The Richardson dock was the most southerly situated 
  port in the San Juan Archipelago & usually 
 the first stop for vessels coming north from Seattle.
The steamer MOHAWK (ex-ISLANDER),
built on San Juan Island,
 is in the center photo and the faithful steamer 

 ROSALIE is alongside in the bottom photo.
 Original photos from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
       Besides the food, hardware, and freight dock at Richardson another need became obvious and Standard Oil put in a huge gas tank to service the commercial fleet. The purse seiner fleet was immense. 
Standard Oil fuel tanks and
Richardson Store, Lopez Island, WA.
Click image to enlarge.
Photo of the store on pilings is dated 1958 

from the archive of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Not only couldn’t you count the seine boats fishing on the Salmon Banks in the Straits south of Lopez and along West Beach on the Whidbey shore, but when night fell these boats had to tie-up somewhere: as many 275 boats would stay at Richardson overnight. Mackaye Harbor was full too. 
These original photos depict Salmon Banks and
Hidden Inlet Canneries and some of the vessels
that fished for salmon in the area.
Some of the legible names of vessels––
Buffalo, Elsie, Glacier, Hennie, Salmo, Superior,
Supreme and Viking.
Click to enlarge.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society

There were nine men to a boat, each boat stayed out five days, going home to Bellingham, Everett, Anacortes, or Gig Harbor during the Friday four PM to Sunday at four PM closed season. Gig Harbor being such a long expensive run some of these didn’t go home during the closed season. There was more demand than there was supply in the Richardson store.
Camp life on shore for the fisherman during
the two days of the closed fishing season per week.
The clean, white canvas tents can be seen in
the center background of the bottom photo.
Click image to enlarge.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      In 1974 when we were at Richardson visiting friends, we found the old store had been moved down into an annex of the freight dock and the Lundy’s had an elegant view home up where the store had stood.
      A facet of our Lopez Island years was the celebration on August 12 of Mama’s birthday. The epic year must have been 1919. The KLATAWA gathered up celebrants from MacKaye Harbor and from Richardson Dock. We preceded by boat to Olga and from Olga we were to climb Mt. Constitution. Picnic baskets were not to be raided until we got to the top. We had a high old time and eventually, we all picnicked on top of the mountain."
Excerpt from:

John Franklin Troxell, Fish Trap Man 1891-1934. Mason, Beryl Troxell. Oak Harbor, Watmough Publishing. 1991. Beryl Troxell Mason (1907-1994)

1990: A favorite meeting place for one hundred years, the Richardson General Store, on the National Register of Historic Places was burned to the ground. It was owned by Ken and Sue Shaw. More of the sad day can be viewed HERE

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