"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

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San Juan Archipelago, 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 700, 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.

31 May 2014

❖ SOUND SKIPPERS ❖ June 1933 ❖

Date, ferry, location, master, all unknown.
We do know it is an original photo by Aashel Curtis.
From the archives of the S. P. H. S.
Click to enlarge.
This is the time of the year when folks start getting acquainted with the Puget Sound ferry captains. Whether you are a daily commuter to Vashon or Bainbridge Islands, the Kitsap County mainland, or a passenger on the longer ferry trips on Puget Sound, it's worthwhile to know who is the captain of the boat on which you are riding
Capt. Louis Van Bogaert with unknown passenger

to many Seattleites, the Sound skippers need no introduction. They're institutions. Take Capt. Wallace Mangan of the ferry CHIPPEWA, for instance. He's been on the Seattle-Bremerton route for 22 years and his alternate, Capt. Thomas Sumner has been a Sound skipper for Puget Sound Navigation Co for 14 years.
with Captain L. Van Bogaert listed as skipper, 1938.

From the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
  Among the Black Ball Line few skippers have a better record than Capt. Louis Van Bogaert of the IROQUOIS that runs between Seattle and Victoria, BC, via Port Angeles. Capt. Van Bogaert has been with the company since 1904 and has often saved small craft in distress. [Capt. Louis, who was raised on Orcas Island,  retired in 1957 after working on the water his whole career.]
      Manchester commuters could be offended if Capt. James Anderson and Capt. George Clements, alternate on the ferry CROSLINE, were not mentioned while Capt. Lawrance Crowley of the ferry QUILLAYUTE running between Edmonds and Port Ludlow, has been on the Port Ludlow route since its establishment and has hundreds of friends on the Olympic Peninsula.
Captain Clarence Lampman 
Dated original stamped 14 August 1961.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Log©

      Other popular Sound skippers are: Captains Clarence Lampman and Lyle Fowler of the ferry SEATTLE, running between Bremerton and Seattle; 
      Capt. Ole Rindal of the ferry INDIANAPOLIS on the Edmonds-Port Townsend route; Capt. Walter Murry of the ferry AIRLINE on the Seabeck-Brinnon route; Capt. A. N. Draper of the SOL DUC on the Seattle-Kingston route; Capt. S. F. Hunsiker of the Mukilteo-Columbia Beach route; Capt. Oliver van Nieuwenhuise of the COMANCHE on the Straits route; Capt. John Oldow of the Gooseberry Point-Orcas Island route and Capt. Carl Stevens of the excursion steamer TACOMA.     
      The Kitsap Ferry Line, operating boats to Vashon, Bainbridge Island, Rolling Bay, and Poulsbo also has its familiar captains, many of whom are veteran Sound navigators like Capt. C. T. Wyatt, who alternates with Capt. Tom Birkland on the run to Port Blakeley. There's Capt. Ward Henshaw of the Str. WINSLOW that runs to Eagle Harbor points. And Capt. Arney Rodal of the MANITOU, which runs between Seattle and Rolling Bay points, not to overlook the popular Capt. Jim Shaw of the VASHON who keeps on schedule despite the fact that he has saved more than one man from missing the "last boat" by waiting a few minutes.
The highly regarded Captain Sam Barlow
and the ROSALIE
serving the San Juan Islands.
Three photos from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
      No list of Sound skippers would be complete without mention of Capt. Sam Barlow of the ferry ROSARIO on the Anacortes-San Juan Islands route. The holder of one of the oldest master's licenses on Puget Sound, Capt. Barlow [born on Lopez Island] was an early captain on the old ROSALIE, one of the first Black Ball steamers.
Above text published by The Seattle Times, June 1933     

27 May 2014

❖ HENDERSON CAMP ❖ Lopez Island, WA.

The top card, 1936, mailed from a camper
to his mother when the camp was founded as
San Juan International Camps
for Boys and Young Men, on San Juan Is.
The bottom photo card, posted in 1956, 

when the Hendersons relocated their camp 
on Sperry Peninsula, Lopez Island.
Click to enlarge.
Both originals from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
Lucile Townsend Henderson and Frank Henderson founded the Henderson Camps which encompassed San Juan for boys and Northstar for girls. Lucile had been the director of the Seattle Girl Scouts Council and was on the national staff in New York; she also had lectured about field work at Harvard University.
     "Lucile and Frank were legends. That camp was there for as long as I can remember," said former Gov. Booth Gardner, who was a camp counselor during high school.
      Every summer from 1935 to 1966, when the Hendersons retired, the camp let kids sleep in tepees and learn canoeing, sailing, swimming, and Native American art and dance.
      Lucile inspired and continued to serve a vital role in the lives of former campers and camp counselors long after their summers at camp. She was very interested in the lives and development of the children and their safety, according to former camper John Dickson.
      Dickson spent 13 summers as a camper and then worked as a camp counselor in the 1950s and 60s, and later became a rheumatologist in Seattle. His relationship with the Hendersons was such that a significant donation is being made to the University of Washington's Division of Rheumatology from Lucile Henderson's estate.
      Members of the third generation of some families are now attending the camp, renamed Camp Nor'wester. [An earlier post of the artistic happenings at Camp Nor'wester on John's Island in 2013, can be viewed here.]
Henderson Camps, Lopez Island.
Cactus Rock, the Lodge, and pool.

Three original photos from archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Donn Charnley, a state legislator from 1970 to 1984, spent his first summer at the camp in 1937. All six of his children have camped there over the years, and now his grandchildren are becoming involved.
      Charnley said he probably wouldn't have become a state official if not for the self-confidence inspired by the Hendersons. Charnley, a professor emeritus of geology taught occasionally at Edmonds Community College. "I became a teacher because of that camp; I learned to love the Earth," he said.
Henderson Camp, Lopez Island, WA. 1962
      Bill Holm, art professor emeritus at the University of WA and the Burke Museum, met his wife Marty when they were camp counselors in 1949. They married in 1953.
      Camp Nor'wester has passed through many hands since the Hendersons retired in 1966, but for many, it remains a Henderson institution.
      Gardner was instrumental in helping the property remain a camp after the Hendersons sold it. After the original land on Lopez Island was eventually sold, Camp Nor'wester reopened on John's Island in 2000.
      The Hendersons also campaigned to preserve Point Colville on Lopez Island from development. As a result of their work, the US Bureau of Land Management determined the land to be a significant wetlands area.
      After Mr. Henderson died in 1986, Lucile remained an important part of former campers' lives.
Above text by Kathy F. Mahdoubl, for The Seattle Times, 2006, written in celebration of the life of Lucile "Rabbit" Henderson who lived to be 101-yrs.

21 May 2014

❖ Live-Steamers from McConnell Island ❖ 1952

Thomas G.  Thompson, Jr.  and family
next to his driftwood-engined steamboat
FIRE CANOE on John's Island beach, 1952.
Bunkers were empty so they landed for 15 armloads of driftwood; 
they could steam c. 1.5 miles, on one armload. 
Each autumn FIRE CANOE was hauled up
into the timber and covered for the winter.
"Come the apple blossoms, she'll be painted and polished and ready
to add to the 2,611 nautical miles she has sailed since 1949." TGT.
Cropped original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
" Seeing this photo of FIRE CANOE on John's Island, collecting driftwood and stone brought back a flood of memories of Tommy Thompson and FIRE CANOE.
      After Tommy graduated from the U of WA in the late 1940s with a degree in mechanical engineering, he needed to get the cobwebs of academia out of his head, so he took a couple of years off and headed for the San Juans.
      During this time he constructed his parent's lovely, architect designed home on McConnell Island.
      This place was unique, not only in its site sensitive placement and form, but also in that it was massively constructed almost entirely of beach combed materials. Floors were sandstone flags [2.5 tons] from Stuart Island, roof beams were large fir timbers from many island beaches, and walls and fireplaces were beach granite. All of this was hauled to McConnell via FIRE CANOE.
      What you see in this photo is one of the many collecting expeditions. The double ended steamer is an ex-Coast Guard wooden lapstrake surf boat. Tommy built the Roberts style boiler from iron pipe and burned driftwood for fuel. The engine was a 1905 Thorneycroft compound of 12-15 HP±
      The box-ey boat along side was actually two boats. These were WW II surplus assault boats. The two were bolted together transom to transom. I suspect in this elongated fashion they towed easier than two separate boats. The military used these boats for everything from ferrying troops across rivers with paddles or outboards, or even as pontoons for floating bridges. They were built light of plywood with little framing and could be hand carried with enough men. They might also have been "nestable" like a banks dory (?) The last I remember they were upside down, side by side, next to the lagoon on McConnell, c. 1960.
      Colonel Thompson, Tommy's dad passed away 12 August 1961 and Tommy inherited the house he had beach combed.
      Tommy and Anne's young family (five children) lived and worked on Fidalgo Island and for the next 35 years± they would commute to McConnell on summer weekends. They put so many miles on FIRE CANOE that they wore out 3 or 4 boilers. Of course it didn't help that the fuel of choice was salt soaked wood! En route, stops at beaches on James Is or perhaps Spencer Spit, Lopez Island were mandatory to keep up steam.
      One of the joys of living on Wasp Passage was watching for FIRE CANOE, west bound, towards dusk, on a summer Friday evening. If we happened to be about in the boat we would get an enthusiastic whistle! More commonly we would just see her slipping along the Crane Is. shore with the flood. It would usually be calm and you could just make out the sweet, quiet, thump, thump, thump of the compound engine. On rarer occasions, someone might be practicing on the 10-whistle steam calliope!
      There was a peaceful appropriateness to that kind of boating that always had its charm.
      Tommy passed away in the mid 1990s and FIRE CANOE is mouldering away in the trees on McConnell. Steam has not left the Wasp Islands however, but that's another story!"
Text kindly submitted by Skip Bold©, Wasp Passage, San Juan Archipelago, 2014.
For the Saltwater People Historical Society.

18 May 2014

❖ Greeting Boats at Lopez Island ❖ 1955

Lee Wilson
stood on a rock near his cabin door and played a greeting
on his whistle to visiting boats in Hunter's Bay, Lopez Is.
In the background was one of the buildings of the 
"Come-Outer" commune, long ago abandoned.
Original 1955 photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.
Click to enlarge.
"Yachtsmen entering Hunter's Bay in the San Juan Archipelago are puzzled by reedy, flute like sounds wafted across the water from the shore of Lopez Island.
      The boaters soon learn that the peculiar music emanates from a whistle played by Lee (Grandpa) Wilson, whose weather-beaten cabin is perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the bay.
      Visitors are welcomed by 'Grandpa' Wilson, and those who row ashore find a ghost village of unusual nature.
      Wilson is the last remaining member of a religious colony which originated in Seattle's Ballard area. The colony had no formal name, but was known as the 'Come-Outers,' because members had "come out" of many other church denominations. They believed that their steward, Thomas Gourley, had been sent to lead them into a better life, just as Moses led the children of Israel.
      In 1911 Gourley led his flock to a new home in the San Juan Islands and in 1912 they settled at Hunter's Bay. There were approximately 130 adults and children. The group set up a communal existence based on its religious convictions.
      Members lived in tents at first, but gradually cabins were built from the ample supply of lumber that  the tide brought them. A bakehouse with a large concrete oven was constructed and the job of baking the community's bread supply passed around weekly among female members. Meals were prepared for the entire group and all tasks were apportioned evenly among members, including the dish washing.
      This system worked out well, William says, allowing individual members more freedom than if each family had cooked its own meals.
      The bakehouse also served as a temporary chapel. Several marriages were performed there, including that of young Lee Wilson and the adopted daughter of a colony family, in 1913.
      Later a tabernacle was built. Gourley's Sunday services were open to anyone who cared to attend. At that time the population of Lopez was perhaps 700 persons.
      Many islanders went to listen to sermons in the 'Come-Outer' Tabernacle. Guests were always invited to stay for dinner after the church services.
      In 1916 Gourley felt that his mission with the group should end and left Lopez. He later lost his life in a train wreck.
      The religious group had depended so heavily on its leader that it was unable to function without him and eventually broke up. By 1922 all members had left Hunter's Bay and the buildings they had worked so hard to erect stood deserted. Looters removed objects of value, such as chimney bricks.
      For a time someone raised turkeys in one of the larger log cabins. Later, a bootlegger found the deserted bakehouse a good location for a still, however––

12 May 2014

❖ Light of our Life ❖ ❖ POINT WILSON

Point Wilson Light Station, 1907
The top postcard is signed by author,
James G. McCurdy.

Postcards from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

"The Olympic Peninsula terminates upon the east in a long sickle-shaped promontory, which jutting far out from its base, holds back the turbulent waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with its outer, rugged shore line, while protecting the narrow expanse of Puget Sound to the southward, within it's sheltering arm. Every mariner entering or leaving Puget Sound has to take Point Wilson into his reckoning if he does not wish to leave his vessel stranded upon it's sandy shores. In clear weather it is an easy matter to give it a wide berth, but in a dense fog––that is another matter.
      For over thirty years seafarers had been navigating their vessels past this obstacle without a lighthouse or a fog signal to aid them. But in 1879 as a result of continued pressure, the lighthouse department erected a beacon at the tip of Point Wilson with a deep-toned whistle to assist in keeping vessels at a safe distance. The first keeper at Point Wilson station was David Littlefield, a Civil War veteran who had arrived at Pt. Townsend at an early date and married Maria, the oldest daughter of the pioneer L. B. Hastings. The couple raised a large family and were residents throughout their long lives. 
Marrowstone Light Station
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

      A lighthouse and fog-signal were established at Marrowstone Point in 1888 to help out the situation, and today if a vessel takes to the beach at the entrance to the Sound, it will not be the fault of the government, but rather that of the person in command of the ship."
Text from By Juan de Fuca's Strait by James G. McCurdy. Binford's and Mort, 1937.      

10 May 2014

❖ Permission Granted ❖ Sea Trials with Fifty Women Aboard

1944 Minesweeper Sea Trials, 
Built by Associated Shipbuilders, Seattle, WA.
Original photo© from the archives of the S. P. H. S.
"An ancient sea-going superstition was reeling groggily, still dizzy from a series of paralyzing body blows dealt by approximately 50 women employees of Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Co.
      The instrument with which the superstition was attached was one of the big new mine sweepers built at the Associated Shipbuilders' Harbor Island Yard.
      For the first time in the yard's history, the women set sail on the mine sweeper's initial test run, flying in the face of warnings from maritime doom-criers.
      According to salty superstition the trim vessel should have plunged to the bottom of Puget Sound for the old belier decrees that a vessel that carries women on her trial run is certain to meet disaster. However, the mine sweeper behaved like a princess, wringing approval even from those who had boarded her with their fingers crossed.
      The 50 women were chosen from the various departments on the basis of their absentee record, efficiency, and seniority. One woman is a welder, one a scaler, one a journeyman electrician. 
      The mine sweeper pirouetted like a dancer through a series of corkscrew turns. As the day wore on and it became apparent that the jinx, or whatever it was, had missed the boat, the women passengers relaxed, and numerous lively technical discussions sprang up among them. 
      Lieut. Comdr. J. C. Kettering, of Vancouver, a graduate of the U of Washington, had only praise for the vessel he is to command.
      "She showed up very well indeed. We're pleased with it. It will be a pleasure to take the ship out. No, the superstition doesn't bother us. I had women aboard once before, off Astoria, and nothing happened. Maybe that superstition is just worn out."
Text from The Seattle Times, September 1944.

06 May 2014

❖ SHANGHIED 1890 ❖

"To kidnap or coerce against one's will; from the abuses practiced by boarding-house keepers who put drugged or drunken men aboard ships to serve as sailors." 
From Sea Language Comes Ashore by Joanna Carver Colcord

1,893 G.t. / 1,824 N.t.
228.2' x 42.1' x 19.7'
Built 1874 Bath, ME.

Master this day, H. De Gueldu, as inscribed verso.
Photograph by the noted Captain O. Beaton  

from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Historic square-rigger ST. PAUL,
Moored near the Ballard locks, 1934.

In the spring, she was to be opened to the public
with an array of history exhibits from Puget Sound
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"Sixty years ago I was serving my apprenticeship in an old East India clipper and had just arrived in San Francisco harbor anchorage from Antwerp after the smartest passage of the season, 107 days.
      A few days after our arrival a tall down Easter passed close under tow and came to an anchorage off Green Street wharf. We could see that she was loaded; she must have come from either of wheat-loading ports of Porta Costa or Crockett. This vessel was SAINT PAUL. What a sight for our young eyes! If I remember rightly she swung three skysail yards; her bow scroll-work showed up to its best advantage with the sun shining on it as she came abeam of us. It must have been newly painted, probably done as she was loading up the river.
      Her white paintwork and the varnished stanchions around her poop had also been touched up; her yards were dead square with both lifts and braces; truly a sight that I, at least, have never forgotten. Some mate took pride in her!
      Now we apprentices had to take our old man ashore each day and as our landing was at the Green Street wharf steps, we passed each time close to the SAINT PAUL. She evidently was waiting for stores and also for one more seaman to make up her complement.
      Finally came the day when this list was supplied––the day I found that 'shanghai-ing' was not just a word.
      I was waiting that day at the dock for our old man's return when two men came from the direction of Telegraph Hill where there was a saloon on every corner. One man was well-plastered––this was to be the SAINT PAUL's new sailor, the other was a notorious 'runner' from Hansen's boarding house.
      The two commenced arguing and this seemed the signal for the arrival at the dockside of a square-stern rowing boat, in it a man we had pointed out as Red Crowley. We boys soon tumbled to the fact that he was in cahoots with the runner.
      Well, the two on the wharf still kept up the arguing and I remember the sailor telling Hansen, 'I'm going to have another beer before I go on board that hooker!'
      'Probably he'll be easier to handle then,' can have been Hansen's thought for away they went and I suppose he had his beer. Then back they came still arguing. The drunk shouted at Hansen, 'I'm not going on that ship!'
      I won't say what Hansen said in reply but they started to fight, Hansen continually edging the man towards the face of the dock. At its base, the boatman had backed in close, and when Hansen let the drunk have one under the chin, over the dock he went, and straight into the boat.
      Crowley immediately started pulling out towards the SAINT PAUL. As far as we could see the other man never moved after he landed in the boat, nor did Crowley interest himself in him––just kept pulling on his oars.
      We boys watched the whole affair until he arrived alongside. They pulled the drunk up in a bowline and landed him on the deck and that was the last we saw of the 'shanghaied' seaman."
Words by Alexander McDonald. Deep Sea Stories from the Thermopylae Club; 1971. Edited by Ursula Jupp. 
The author of this essay was a dynamic personality who was skipper of the Thermopylae Club, Victoria, B. C. for its first six years. Scion of generations of Aberdeen ship-builders and master mariners, he loved the sea and the courage of the men who sailed it with a love almost mystical.
      Not yet eight years of age when his mother waved him goodbye when he left London Docks on the ship, CITY OF CORINTH, of which his father was master, he returned a long sixteen months later quite sure that life at sea was what he wanted as a career.
In 1890 Alexander McDonald signed on as an apprentice and before his retirement, nearly fifty years later, he had sailed in many seas and had rounded the dreaded Horn twenty-six times.
On board at one time:
Capt. H. De Gueldu

Another post on this ship can be viewed here.

03 May 2014

❖ Lake Washington Ship Canal ❖ Opens 1917

Opening Day 1956,
Photo by Larry Dion

Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Lake Washington Ship Canal and Portage Bay
   "The opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal in 1917 was important in the history of Northwest yachting. Construction of the canal was justified on the basis of commercial usage, but the effect on pleasure craft has been great. It not only made a large freshwater area available for racing, cruising, mooring, repair, and construction facilities, but as a result, lakefront owners could now keep boats to use for both freshwater and saltwater pleasures.
      The combination of protected water and excellent spectator space in the middle of a large metropolitan area makes possible what may be the largest and best known Opening Day of the yachting world.    
      After years of considering alternative canal routes (a cut through Beacon Hill, for example) and after facing opposition by such groups as the mill owners on Salmon Bay, ground was broken for lock construction in 1911. In 1915 the part of Lake Union east of the old Latona St. Bridge was renamed Portage Bay in commemoration of the traditional way of transporting boats, logs, and other materials from Lk Washington to Lk Union. In October 1916, the canal was opened from Salmon Bay to Lake Union, and the following May it was open for navigation to Lk Washington.
      An earlier canal had existed. According to the abstract of title for property on Portage Bay owned by the Seattle Yacht Club, in 1861 this federal property (obtained from the American Indians by treaty) was sold by the appropriate board of commissioners to raise funds to build a territorial university. Harvey Pike, the purchaser, obtained 161.83 acres at the north end of what is now the Montlake District for $242.75.
      Pike tried with a pick and shovel to connect the two lakes with a small canal but 

01 May 2014

Ashes Overboard––100 Years Ago

FLORENCE K. at Eagle Harbor, WA.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"When the steamer ATALANTA was built in 1914, there was a hot argument over her fuel. My father held out for diversity but he lost out to his senior brother, Arthur, who built her to use fuel oil only. He had a long-term contract at a favorable price in order to promote the use of fuel oil, which then had some problems.
      The ship got her supply during the war years, but when the contract expired the oil price skyrocketed and we had to raise the rates just when competition again reared it's ugly head in the form of a subsidized county ferry. The ATALANTA was sold in 1919 and father took his share in the sole ownership of the FLORENCE K. She was promptly equipped with a supply of coal grates for the boiler; her hold on either side of the boiler and engine room were lined and equipped for coal and her cargo space was arranged to store wood, if necessary. He played the fuel market very well––coal when the supply and price were right––oil when the supplier listened to reason––and cordwood if that was indicated. The grates came out for oil but went back in for wood and coal.
      The coal was the dirtiest, of course, and it seemed to me we hoisted out as much ash as fuel originally went in. When you dumped ashes on the lee side the soot, etc. went swirling all over the ship, so there had to be a lot of cleaning. The old craft left her night mooring at the People's Dock near the entrance to Gig Harbor at 6 am. The fireman and I devised a scheme of getting aboard somewhat earlier and dumping ashes and clinkers over the side in the quiet of the harbor.
      This went along quite well until one day, with a rather low tide, Captain Fred Sutter, hit bottom while trying to make a landing. Capt. Fred was a very kind man and a great teacher to me. After he got clear of the dock he had a good talk with yours truly about homemade reefs in front of dock space and we promptly went back to dumping ashes on the run.
      Capt. Arda Hunt never would listen to any talk about Diesel engines. He wouldn't consider putting himself in the position of dependence on one source of fuel, and besides, he wanted the warm boiler room for his crew to dry out in wet weather."
Above text by Reed O. Hunt, Gig Harbor, WA. 
Published by The Sea Chest, Puget Sound Maritime Society, Seattle, WA.

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