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

About Us

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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 650, 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.

27 December 2016


Litho by M. Reilly
Public domain.

Deep Sea Stories from the Thermopylae Club
Edited by Ursula Jupp.
Published by author. Victoria, BC. 1971.
This story written by F. Walter Hearle.
Mr. Hearle was born in the Cornish village of St. Constantine, he apprenticed on the barque PENRHYN CASTLE and finished his maritime career in Victoria, BC, preparing huge warps for tugs towing great booms to the mills and making nets for the life-saving Carley floats during WW II. Several of Hearle's valuable stories were archived by the Thermopylae Club, Victoria, BC. 
 A Heavy Gale––1902

"This is an account of one of the heaviest gales I was ever in at sea. I do not say that it was worse than the other shipmates of the THERMOPYLAE have been through, for everyone who goes to sea gets into real bad weather sometime.
      The time of which I am writing was the year 1902. We were bound from Tacoma to Durban, South Africa with a cargo of flour and canned fruit. We left Tacoma on 17 March. The run down to the Horn was uneventful. We rounded the Horn on 13 May with a westerly gale behind us.
      It never left us till we were off the Cape of Good Hope.
      For nearly two weeks we ran before it with the seas getting heavier all the time. They would come rolling up astern looking like hills with the wind blowing spray from their crests and just when it looked as if they were going to bury the ship she would rise to them, though they generally broke on board from both sides and filled the decks to the rail.
      It became a common occurrence for seas to break on board all the way from poop to the forecastle head and often they would break right over the top of the deck-house and fill the boats, bursting in the covers.
      There were life-lines stretched along on deck on each side and the fore braces were led along to the bitts on the fore deck as it was impossible to stand amidships and brace the yards.
      There was no fresh water to drink as the pumps were continually under water. We used water out of a barrel in the life-boat but it was so bad we could hardly drink it.
      One evening in the second dog watch I was returning some mess tins to the galley. It was quite dark at the time. I worked my way along the deck on the port side and just as I came around the corer of the deck house I saw a tremendous sea roll up to the rail on the starboard side, shining with phosphorous. I should imagine it was about twenty feet high where it broke over the side.
      I dropped the mess tins, which I never saw again, and grabbed the life-line. My feet were swept from under me and I was in solid green water like one drowning.
      The same sea broke in the two-inch teak galley door and washed away the winch abaft the main hatch, breaking the castings just above the deck.The winch went into the scuppers, the broken castings plowing up the deck as it went. It took about half the next watch to get it lashed; it was under water most of the time. One man stood in the main rigging with a lantern while the rest of us lashed it to the bulwark stanchions.
      Just at seven bells in the 4 to 8 watch the next morning she took the biggest sea of all. I had just gone into the half-deck to call the watch below and had no sooner closed the door than it came on board with a roar. I felt the ship tremble and then she seemed to go dead as if she had settled down. It was daylight at the time and for several seconds the solid green water stood against the porthole and squirted in all around the door––and that was a deck house!
      The second mate, who was on watch, said that as far as he could see there was nothing but the three masts out of water. The only damage it did was to flood the cabin, every room there was awash.
      That evening the captain decided to try to heave to despite the risk. We got her around all right but she still continued to keep the decks full of water. The green seas came over the bows so bad that we had to keep look out from the roof of the deckhouse. We could tell that the side lights were burning by watching the reflection against the water every time she took a sea. It was no use to strike the bells as the bell was tolling continuously with the motion of the ship.
      I was on the roof of the deckhouse on the look out from ten to midnight. Just before eight bells she shipped a sea. It must have broken exactly as it met her for she shook as if she had struck something solid. I don't know how high that sea mounted but in the distance it looked as if it was coming over the foreyard.
      The main topmast staysail was stowed at my feet and when the sea struck me the clew of the sail dragged me off my feet and I seemed to go away in a solid body of water. I didn't know where I was. When I got hold of something solid I found I was on the main deck amidships, jammed between the deck spar and the bulwarks.
      The next day we found that the bulwarks were bent where that sea had struck her, several stanchions were started and the door of the wash port was gone.
      The half deck was never clear of water for weeks. Our chests were afloat most of the time and were moored at both ends like ships at a wharf. The bunks got so wet that we had to sleep in the sail locker.
      This gale continued till we were off the African coast. We arrived at Durban on 10 June, 28 days from Cape Horn and 85 from Tacoma."


24 December 2016


All best of the season to the many Log 
readers and those who have aided in 
maritime archiving this past year! 

There is a Wikipedia page about  
Capt. Irving (1905-1991,) professional sailor,
survivor of Pearl Harbor, and Exy Johnson,
7 time circumnavigators, writers, teachers.
Undated photo card mailed from Cape Town, S.A.
home to the USA by a crew member 'Fenton.'
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

 Click image to enlarge.

23 December 2016

❖ THROUGH A SWARM OF ISLANDS ❖ 1929 with June Burn

on her rounds with passengers, mail and freight 
in the San Juan Islands.
Courtesy of Charles Torgerson family.
"Breakfast time on the SAN JUAN! Homer, the combination deckhand, purser, mail-clerk, baggage rustler and cook, comes to call the skipper while the engineer takes the wheel. When the skipper returns, the engineer goes into the tiny galley and when the crew has finished I saunter back to find out what the chances are for a cup of coffee. I wash a cup for myself, fry myself a pancake from the leftover batter and have breakfast in jolly informality. There is jam for the cakes and the coffee is just right. Everything is just right!
      Fancy going into the galley of a big boat––even of the SOLDUC––and preparing one's own breakfast! Every time I travel on a small island-boat I teeter between delight at the friendly, informal, unbusinesslike atmosphere on it and fear that it won't last. If ever the islands become so populous that big, important, immaculate, impersonal boats fill their waters I shall join that throng of people who bewail the passing of the good old days. When I begin to sigh and whine that the golden island days are over and travel on the boats no longer any fun, you'll know I've grown old, too. For, of course, the golden days of every person is when he is most keenly aware of the romance and adventure and delights about him. 
      I think John Burroughs began at 20 to live with zest; he lived all his life long as if things were all right in his world. I know a woman who used to live in the San Juan Islands. She is 72, now. White her hair is and not very robust her body. But 'Cousin Polly' Butterworth enjoys every single day of her life nor has ever been heard to speak with a shade of criticism of the maligned younger generation. She loves codfish now as if it were a special thrilling adventure to catch and cook and eat one. Still enjoys the boats and the leisurely ways of the islands.
      She is gone now from the gray farmhouse like a seagull perched in its little bay, and lonely the farm looks without her and her white-headed fat little 'Fayther,' as she called her husband in quaint Lancashire dialect, both of them full of fun and vitality. We used to row over there two or three times a week, partly for the cheer of their friendship, partly for the delicious canned veal and fresh vegetables and homemade bread and butter we had there, for our homesteading days were lean days of real hunger. It isn't so nice to come back home and find great holes where friends used to fit so warmly!
      Down, and down, and down the passes, the world of islands flowing off toward the horizon all around. Nowhere else, surely, is there so magnificent a sea freckled with such beautiful verdant islands! Nowhere else in America. Where, then?
      Mr. Gamwell, reminiscing one day, said that in 'the good old days' of sailing boats they used to go all the way around Shaw Island without wind. The tide would take them half around and the backwash around the corners would carry them the rest of the way around, though one wonders what they wanted to go all the way around for, anyhow!
      There are very few deciduous trees in the islands. Here all is green. Great soft madronas in masses, their red bark glistening, their brittle limbs heavy with orange and tan berries. Firs six feet through and an occasional ancient cedar, tall and straight and beautiful. A world of alder and willow and on some of the islands a great many hoary old oaks with twisted moss-hung limbs.
      Such a swarm of islands as there are! On the chart they look few enough with wide waters between. But when one is among them, they crowd in close, the channels 'scrunching'' up to give them room. Through Pole Pass between Crane and Orcas islands. Charlie Hammond, an old friend, lived on Crane in our homesteading days. He is gone now and his old crony, Mr. Crafts, gone too. Mr. Crafts lived on Orcas on his own little place that he sold before his death to Mr. Brehms. Now it is well groomed and fair. But I miss the old log house at whose fireplace I've sat and talked of 'far things and philosophies.' Over that fireplace the old fellow had nailed aluminum letters fashioning the phrase: 'Oh what fools these mortals be,' that of course placed him in the ranks of the aged. A cantankerous, lovable, learned old man was Mr. Crafts. We loved him well and mourn his passing. For he was the first friend we made in the islands.
Looking down on the once popular Norton's Inn,
Deer Harbor, San Juan Archipelago, date is pre-1928.
This photo is dedicated to 4 generations of the salty
Chet North family who once played & worked on this
coast in summer sun and icy winter storms.
Original photo from the archive of S.P.H.S.©
      On up into Deer Harbor with Turtleback rising behind. Mrs. Norton's flock of cottages on the hill grows every season. How I'd love to stop and have dinner with  her today! Hard-working, brave, cheery Mrs. Norton, the leader and backbone of her tribe.
      Up the channel between Jones Island and Orcas to the steep walls of Waldron. George says that every man on the island comes to meet all the boats and that if one is missing they know he is sick. Then across the wide level acres to Prevost on Stewart Island. I cooked dinner of spuds, corn on the cob, canned beans, steak and gravy. How good things taste from a high narrow shelf-like table in a tiny galley on a little boat, the marvelous fresh sea winds whetting the appetite even as you appease it––we are at Prevost––almost home!
      See you tomorrow. June."
Text from Puget Soundings by June Burn 1929.

19 December 2016


ON 7967 
Built by Samuel Farnum at Portland, OR.
Launched 27 Nov. 1859.
134' R.L x 25' x 8'
276.42 g.t., 197.49 n.t.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"The ELIZA ANDERSON was typical of her age and line of work, being an inland steamboat, circa 1860. Mechanically she was typical, for she was powered by a massive, single-cylindered engine that transmitted power to a pair of side-wheels by way of a diamond-shaped iron walking-beam that nodded sedately in its gallows frame atop her hurricane deck. In addition, the ELIZA ANDERSON had a salty, crusty character, one she shared with a long line of owners and skippers.
      A few very old-timers along the Northwest waterfronts remember the Old ANDERSON in her later years and delight in the legends that grew up around her and her doughty masters:
      'Do you mind the time Cap'n McAllep was on the ANDERSON?' the yarn begins. 'I was with him one night and it was blowin' great guns. We were making a desperate try to get into Deception Pass. The old packet had on a big load of freight and quite a passel of passengers. Included in the freight were seven pianos, eight head of cattle, and a dozen barrels of whiskey.
      'The first thing we knew the steamer was getting water into her faster than we could get it out. 'Over with the cattle, the Old Man bellers. Into the water they went. Next came the order to dump the pianos. We held onto the whiskey until we got into Seattle. There the agent came around. He heard our tale of woe, looked at the Old Man and the whiskey.
      'Cap,' he sez, 'don't you think you acted a might hasty in getting those pianos overboard and saving this whiskey?'
      'The Old Man turned on him disgusted like, 'You don't drink pianos, man! You can't drink pianos,' he roared.
      'Another time we were caught in the pass in the tide. To save us we couldn't buck our way through. The Old Man was handlin' the steamer from amidships, standing on the hurricane deck like he was on the bridge of an ocean liner. You remember the ANDERSON had a walking-beam and her galley was just below where the Old Man was standing. From the galley the smell of hot coffee came up to him. It was pourin' rain and colder'n a witch's bottom and that coffee smelled might delightful.
      So through the narrow opening where the connecting rod came up to the walking-beam and makin' his first voyage and he was used to the ways of the loggin' camps. So he roared back, tellin' the Old Man to come and get his coffee if he wanted it.
      'I'm comin,' you belly-robbin' son of a bitch!' the Old Man screamed down through the opening. 'I'm comin' right down through this hole and when I get there you're going t' know it!' You could hear the pans below rattle when the Old Man let out that screech.
      'Well, sir, that cook was topside with a steamin' mug o'coffee before the walking-beam had time to nod more'n twice and the passengers, who'd been hangin' on the deck below and lookin' worried, like t' died of laughter. Even the old ANDERSON seemed t' be impressed by the skipper's beller and went right ahead and butted her way through the pass with no more trouble.
      The ELIZA ANDERSON wasn't the first West Coast steamboat, but she is numbered among the pioneers. She moved slowly but made money fast. She ended her days at Dutch Harbor, AK,  at age 40." [And that is another story.]
Text from: Pacific Steamboats from Sidewheeler to Motor Ferry by Gordon Newell and Joe Williamson. Bonanza Books. New York.

13 December 2016


23 January 1953
Eleven tugboats totaling 2,530 HP, were required to tow
this 500,000-bd feet raft of peeler logs from Shaver's boom,
 near Swan Island, to Multnomah Plywood Corporation's plant 
above the Hawthorne bridge. Eight hours were required by
the big tow fleet to move the raft about three miles against the 
strong flood current of the Williamette River.
Unknown photographer. 
Photograph of an over-size original photo from S.P.H.S.©

(We'll work on getting a scan on this beautiful image.)

09 December 2016


Schooner CAMANO
Launched in 1902, at Hall's Shipyard at Port Blakeley.
An example of a fine lumber schooner built in WA;
one written up in McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW,
(G. Newell, editor) for her fast passage full of lumber 

from Bellingham, bound Sydney, AU.
Her course of 9,500 miles she did in 53 days under
Capt. Oskar Anderson. Average speed was 8-knots.
Aboard was a well-known Pacific Northwest lifetime mariner
Lyle E. Fowler, born in the San Juans, posing in the white hat
on the foredeck. He signed on at age 17 as an A.B. and–– 
remembered to pack a camera. He grew up to be certified as a 

Puget Sound Pilot. 
Photo date 1919.

Click image to enlarge.
Oceans of thanks to Doug and Fran Fowler for the donation of a series
of photos from this schooner passage.
"After rounding Cape Horn, I thought to myself,there must be some other place on earth where seafaring is more pleasant, I found it. Life on a Pacific Coast lumber schooner was not so bad and the fo'c'sle in most of them was snug and dry.
They were good sea boats when loaded
and you kept your feet dry. It was kind of eerie when reefing down in a rising gale, the schooner heeling way over, the water rushing along and lapping over the top of the deckload to lee. But everybody knew his work and it was done in no time at all. For a while, I thought the sailing ships would last me all my life, but I was mistaken."

Captain Fred K. Klebingat (1889-1985)

05 December 2016


Alaska Steamship Co.
After she wrestled with the Colman Dock
and sunk the sternwheeler TELEGRAPH
25 April 1912, Seattle, WA.

Original photo by O.T. Frasch from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Throughout their history, the smaller steam vessels operating on the inland waters of the Pacific Northwest displayed a rare ability to engage in sometimes spectacular mishaps with little or no injury or loss of life to their patrons. The Northwest 'mosquito fleet' was the victim of a rash of such misfortunes in 1912, the Puget Sound Navigation Company's stern-wheel steamer TELEGRAPH becoming a casualty of one of the more alarming of these. 
Destruction left from the S. S. ALAMEDA
Colman Dock, Seattle, WA.

Photo by Evans P & A Shop, original from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.

      The TELEGRAPH was almost cut in two and sunk at her Colman Dock berth in Seattle on the night of 25 April when a remarkable blunder in the engine room of the Alaska Steamship Co liner ALAMEDA sent the heavy iron steamship crashing through the dock, demolishing the tall clock tower and smashing the outer end of the dock to splinters. 
Colman Dock with the S.S. TELEGRAPH on the bottom
Original photo by O.T. Frasch from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Colman Dock splinters
Click to enlarge.
Photo by O.T. Frasch from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      Capt. John Johnson, the regular master of the ALAMEDA was ashore at the time and Capt. John A. "Dynamite" O'Brien, acting as port pilot, was in charge. The vessel took on bunker oil at the Standard Oil Dock on the East Waterway, leaving at 9:45 PM and arriving off Pier 2 (now Pier 51) at 10:15. Capt. O'Brien planned to berth the steamer at the south slip and already had her moving under a dead slow bell toward that location when the man in charge on the dock shouted instructions to tie up on the north side. The ALAMEDA was then about 200 yards off the pier-head. The helm was put hard to starboard, but the vessel did not respond. Capt. O'Brien then rang for slow ahead and, as she began to swing, half speed astern and then full speed astern. Third Assistant Engineer Guy Van Winter was taking the signals from the bridge and relaying them verbally to Second Assistant Robert Bunton at the throttle. In some manner the last signal was misunderstood and the engine was set at full ahead rather than full astern. As he felt the powerful surge of the engines driving the steamer toward the busy passenger terminal, O'Brien shouted to the chief officer on the forecastle to get the anchors over. With the whistle cord tied down, the big ALAMEDA tore through the Colman Dock about 150-ft fro the outer end, emerging on the north side to smash into the TELEGRAPH amidships, driving the wooden stern-wheeler hard against the neighboring Grand Trunk Dock. Although the TELEGRAPH sank in less than 15 minutes, no lives were lost. John Frye, a fireman, was in the stern-wheeler's engine room working on a condensor when the bow of the ALAMEDA crashed through, grazing the spot where he was working. Water poured in like a flood, and although the engineer started the pumps, the TELEGRAPH was soon resting on the bottom in 40-ft of water. 
S.S. ALAMEDA lifeboat
 Standing by.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Although three women were injured on the dock, and several persons were picked up from the water by the boats that were promptly lowered from the ALAMEDA, the entire affair transpired without loss of life. 
      The damage to the ALAMEDA was so slight that she sailed the next evening for Prince William Sound, only 12 hours behind schedule. The Colman Dock clock tower, a landmark on the Seattle waterfront, had rolled from the deck of the ALAMEDA and was found floating the next day in the harbor. It was taken in tow by the tug ATLAS and beached at West Seattle, the hands pointing to 10:23, apparently fixing the exact time of the accident. Maritime men were unanimous in their praise of the prompt action of Capt. O'Brien, particularly in regard to the quick lowering of the anchors, it having been found that the starboard anchor had caught and stopped the destructive course of the steamer after 125 fathoms of chain were out, undoubtedly preventing from continuing her rampage through the GT Dock.
      The recent loss of the White Star Liner TITANIC was still fresh in the public mind, and Capt. Howard Bullene, master of the steamer SANTA ANA used that tragedy as an example in commenting on Capt. O'Brien's action. 'If the navigator of the wrecked TITANIC had exhibited one half the presence of mind of Capt. O'Brien, the most frightful disaster in maritime history would have been averted. With the same promptness the TITANIC could have been turned bow-on to the ice berg when it was reported a quarter of a mile ahead, and her bulkheads would have saved her.'
ON 200012
Blt by Portland Shipbuilding Co, Everett, WA.
She was placed in service between Everett and Seattle
along with the CITY OF EVERETT.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S©

      The TELEGRAPH had been thoroughly overhauled the previous year, including the installation of a new port engine, main steam pipe and crosshead, and on her trials in charge of Capt. Charles Brydsen had attained a speed of 20 miles an hour. The Puget Sound Navigation Co. turned her over to the underwriters following her sinking, asking damages of $55,000 from the Alaska Steamship Co. The US Commissioner conducting the hearing awarded damages of $45,000, the amount being reduced to $25,000 by the US Court of Appeals at San Francisco, that stated the market for stern-wheelers had suffered a slump since the TELEGRAPH was built and that to fix the value on a basis of depreciation from her original cost through wear was a wrong hypothesis. The steamer was subsequently raised and repaired by the underwriters and sold to the newly organized Independent Navigation Co., with Mitchell & Lonseth, Seattle shipwrights the principal owners. Her single-cylinder engines (28 1/2 x 72) were compounded to 15 1/2, 28 1/2 x 72 and she was renamed OLYMPIAN, being placed on a daily schedule between Seattle and Olympia via Vashon Island points and Tacoma. She was not successful, in this service and was subsequently transferred to the Columbia River."
Above text from: H. W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW. Editor, Newell, Gordon. Superior Publishing. Seattle. 1965.
     Gordon Newell in SOS North Pacific reminds us that the safety record, rather than the disaster toll "is the most remarkable thing about the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet." He writes:
      The little ships carried their millions of people to and from a hundred harbors along the shores of the inland sea. They carried them somewhat slower than the modern automobile, but they carried them safely. Puget Sound steamboats could probably boast of a lower death rate than any other transportation system in modern history, but this is an age of Progress and they are all gone now. Faber, Jim. Steamer's Wake.


01 December 2016


Captain Dorr F. Tozier, US Cutter GRANT.
Top row right.
He brought the GRANT around the Horn from New York
in the 1890s and remained in command for 14 years.
Here he is visiting Numukamis Village on Barclay Sound, 

Vancouver Island, BC.
Photograph by Samuel G. Morse
21 Jan. 1902.
Courtesy of the WA. State Historical Society.
# 1917.115.217 

click on image to enlarge 

The text below is typed verbatim from the San Juan Islander newspaper 21 Jan. 1904:

"The Tacoma Sunday Ledger of 10 January [1904] devotes over eight columns of space to an illustrated article on Capt. Dorr F. Tozier, of the Revenue Cutter GRANT, and his great collection of northwestern Indian curios, the largest private collection of the kind in the United States, now stored in the Ferry Museum at Tacoma.
Revenue Cutter GRANT
courtesy of Capt. Davis (USCG) ret,
Coast Guard Museum Northwest,  Seattle, WA.
      Friday Harbor has long been one of Capt. Tozier's favorite ports on Puget Sound, and the GRANT, carrying four mounted guns, seven officers and thirty-three men, and still staunch and graceful despite her thirty-three years of service, often lies at anchor in the sheltered waters of our lovely harbor. 
      Quite a number of baskets and other specimens of Indian handiwork in Capt. Tozier's great collection was obtained in this county. The Ledger says of the collection as a whole that 'these records of the aborigines of the northwest will be known and valued by scientists and scholars and the name of their collector preserved when all trace of the GRANT and the people she cruised among shall have passed away.
      'Over 4,000 baskets, representing the best weaving of the northwest tribes, are too many the most interesting part of the collection, but for the student of ethnology, to the one interested in race history, there is an inexhaustible mine of information ready to his hand. There are twelve old tribal totems of different designs gracing the large room in awesome majesty. There are dozens of carvings, grave figures, feast bowls, tamanawas, emblems of every description. There are all kinds of hunting and fighting implements, kayaks of skin, and canoes of several varieties. A wonderful collection of ancient stone implements has been given close attention by the captain, who has sought particularly to make this collection educational in character. He is constantly adding new treasures received from the agents he has employed in the interior of Washington and Alaska to secure rare and interesting articles. On his last visit, he brought to the museum a number of carved pieces of black slate-stone, the treasured work of a worthy member of the Chilkat tribe, very rare and very beautiful, even in the aesthetic, rather than the scientific sense. This work is exceedingly rare and was purchased at a great price. It adds enormously to the collection, showing the high artistic development of some of the western tribes, and, an interesting point, the similarity of their ideas and workmanship to that of Asiatic peoples."

A fraction of Capt. Tozier's artifacts, c. 1905.
Model canoe, house posts, sculptures, part of a house front,
masks and a replica of a copper.
The collection first exhibited at the Ferry Museum (Tacoma,)
then removed to Seattle in 1909 and finally to
the National Museum of the American Indian under the
Smithsonian, WA. DC.
This photo c. 1905 courtesy of the WSHS #19543.19

1894, October: 
      The GRANT, Capt. Tozier, normally cruising the islands from Pt. Townsend, was in drydock at Quartermaster Harbor to have barnacles scraped from her hull––120 bushels of them. Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

1907, September:
      Capt. D.F. Tozier has been placed on the retired list, having reached the age limit of active service. For several years past he has been assistant superintendent of the 13th Lighthouse District, with headquarters in Portland. He is a native of Maine and has spent forty years in the government service, twenty of them on the Atlantic and then each on the Great Lakes and the Pacific Coast. He was in command of the GRANT when she came around the Horn from New York and for a time, had been master of New York Harbor. He has one of the greatest collections of Indian baskets and curios in America, most of them gathered during his service on the Puget Sound and Alaska. He is now in San Francisco. San Juan Islander newspaper.

1912, January 26 :
      According to the San Juan Islander newspaper––"Capt. Tozier was in Seattle this past week to visit friends in Seattle and was a guest of the Washington Art Association who purchased his great collection of Indian curios.*
      Capt. Tozier was often here [Friday Harbor] in the GRANT and had many acquaintances in this county. The old cutter that was condemned a few years ago and sold to a Seattle fish company, was recently wrecked on the coast of Vancouver Island. Capt. Tozier intends leaving soon for an extended trip to Egypt and European countries."

* There is more to the story of the art collection leaving Tacoma and ending up in New York and then Washington DC.

There is another long chapter to this story posted 2 Feb. 2019 HERE

26 November 2016


ON 126821

345 g.t., 328 n.t.
150.0' x 35.0' x 11..0'
Built 1891 by the well-known H. Bendixsen at Fairhaven, CA.
Purchased by the Pacific Coast Codfish Co in 1913;

she sailed out of Seattle to the Bering Sea with
Capt. Shields' 
schooner JOHN A. for many years.
Here she is saying her goodbyes to Poulsbo life; early 1950s.
The WILSON was purchased by E. Mahood in 1954 and
beached near Powell River, BC, for a breakwater.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.© 
"The proud old three-masted schooner CHARLES R. WILSON, a record of countless voyages over the seven seas etched in her still-stout hull and tight seams, was being cleaned up for the auction block.
      The WILSON had seen most of the world's ports. But, in this area she was best known for the 28 voyages she made to the Bering Sea in search of codfish. In a trade in which sail long since had become a rarity, the WILSON held her own in northern waters until the season of 1945. From then she had been idle.
      During the war, her owner, Capt. J.E. Shields of Poulsbo, successfully resisted efforts by the government to convert the old windjammer into a barge and continued to send the WILSON to the Bering under command of Capt. Knute "Iron Man" Pearson of Poulsbo, a veteran of the fishing banks. 
      The 26-man crew of the WILSON saw the Japanese planes that bombed Dutch Harbor 5 July 1942. The enemy planes flew directly over the vessel, virtually a 'sitting duck,'  but did not molest her.
      The WILSON was built in Fairhaven, CA, in 1891, and she still is sound and stout.
      She recently had been beached at Poulsbo to have her hull scraped by use of a technique familiar to sailing men.
      At high tide, the vessel was run as close to the beach as possible. the receding tide left the vessel high and dry, and heeled over on one side. One side was cleaned and repainted. The the process was repeated, with the ship brought in at a different angle to expose the other side.
      The WILSON's hull is still in prime shape, men who worked on her, reported. No one knew just how many coats of copper paint had been slapped onto her hull. By now, however, the hull virtually was impregnated with it. The vessel is for sale, and among the early nibblers is a California motion-picture company."
Above text published by the Seattle Times, date unknown.

Schooner friends
and JOHN A.
Seattle winter moorage, dated Nov. 1941.
In memory of fisherman John Markie,
who did not make it come home this year.
Original photo by James A. Turner,
from the Turner Collection, archives of the S.P.H.S.©

1941: After procuring the consent of innumerable governmental agencies, Capt. Shields was permitted to enter the schooner CHARLES R. WILSON, in the Bering Sea cod fishery, this being the only vessel operating in the trade. Her catch was 177,477 codfish.

1941:    "A blue-nose from Nova Scotia, John Markie, came to Seattle in 1914 and signed on the CHARLES R. WILSON. He fished and sailed for Capt. J.E. Shields for 27 years. Markie fished from Iceland to the Bering Sea for 60 years. Always, a sailing vessel. He was found dead in his bunk aboard the WILSON in the Bering. He had fished the previous day. "We had buried John Markie on Little Walrus Island, where the eternal rollers of the Bering Sea break on the rocky coast. There was no minister to say a requiem but we had a phonograph which played a complete funeral service record. A cross was erected over the lonely grave and we went back to the schooner. When he signed on the WILSON this year with Capt. Knute Pearson who had a broken leg and went to sea on crutches, John said, with a smile on his face: 'Seventy-seven and still spry.' With the death of John Markie, the oldest deep-sea fisherman on the Pacific passes on." From a letter written by Capt. J.E. Shields, posted at Naknek, AK. Published 5 July 1941, Seattle Times, page 7.
Capt. Knute Pearson sailed her home in August with 144,317 fish. 
Cod-fishing ended for the sailing ships and the CHARLES R. WILSON tied up in Poulsbo with her buddy the C. A. THAYER.

Names of some of the people who have commanded the schooner CHARLES R. WILSON:
Capt. John Grotle
Capt. Knute "Dempsey" Pearson
Capt. J.J. Kelly 
Capt. John Hanson

23 November 2016


Crew member Barbara Leighton
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Before the Schooner WANDERBIRD sailed into the hearts of hardworking Capt. Harold Somers and his wife Anna Lise, in California, for one of the most amazing restoration programs in the U.S., the good ship was sailing other oceans.
      Tompkins sailed for adventure and found it on the stormy 5,000-mile voyage from Spain to Florida in the little 76-ft schooner WANDERBIRD. 

     "Lief Erickson in modern dress made port [Miami Beach] the other day. His craft was the schooner WANDERBIRD, his crew totalled six men and two gals and his log told of a 5,000-mile cruise across the stormy Atlantic from Vigo, Spain to these tropical moorings.
      Half a century ago the WANDERBIRD, then the WANDERVOGEL, bucked the gales of the North Sea. She's just as sturdy and staunch today. 'No bigger than the Viking ships, but a sweeter sailing vessel and much more seaworthy,' said Capt. Warwick M. Tompkins.
      Tompkins and his crew, that included his wife, Gwen, and Miss Barbara Leighton of New Haven, CN, had no auxiliary motor on which to call in heavy weather, or calms. The WANDERBIRD is one of the few remaining deep-sea schooners that depends only on sail. 
      The women of the schooner's crew stood watch and watch with the men at the wheel, helping set canvas and going aloft when it was necessary to shorten sail for a heavy blow. The other members of the crew were Alfred W. Pain of Cambridge, Mass,  first officer; Alfred Lorens of Hamburg, Germany, second officer; two sailors and a cook.
      The WANDERVOGEL was one of a fleet of pilot boats built for the German government fifty years ago for service in the North Sea. She is framed and planked of solid oak throughout and copper-sheathed. Despite her staunch build, the schooner made 1,000 miles in six days from Vigo to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
'We logged ten knots under shortened canvas,' said Cap'n Tompkins. 'We had gales in the Bay of Biscay, the wind reaching a velocity of eighty-three miles an hour. But from there on it was better. We left Cowes, England, 20 September for Vigo and made port here in 48 days.'
      Tompkins whose home is in Berkeley, CA, attended the U of CA. His deep sea experiences date from war days when he held the battleship ARIZONA on her course as a quartermaster. He purchased the WANDERBIRD in Hamburg last July and with a crew of English and Dutch school boys made a 6-week cruise of the British Isles last summer. 
       His latest venture on the WANDERBIRD is not his first conquest of the Atlantic in a small sailing vessel. He was navigator of the 17-ton PRIMROSE IV* on a crossing of the North Atlantic by way of Iceland an exploit that won him the Blue Water medal in 1927."
* The Log entry of PRIMROSE IV can be seen here.
Above text from the Journal Gazette, Mattoon, IL. 1930.
aboard as navigator on PRIMROSE IV.
Well known sailor and one-time owner of
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

17 November 2016


with flags flying and gold aboard, 
steaming for Seattle, WA. 17 July 1897.
Litho card from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"As the steamer PORTLAND neared Cape Flattery on 17 July 1897, Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporters had assembled at the offices of the Puget Sound Tug Boat Co in Port Townsend. Rumor had it that the steamship was carrying gold-laden miners from the Klondike region in the Canadian Yukon. The enterprising reporters wished to charter a tug to intercept the PORTLAND before it reached Seattle. Assigned the tug SEA LION, they headed out the strait to Cape Flattery, where they met the steamer and got their story, one of the major scoops of the century. On board the PORTLAND were 68 miners with $964,000 worth of gold dust and nuggets, estimated at one and a half tons of gold. 'A TON OF GOLD' the Seattle P-I bannered in understatement, but a nation and a world were nevertheless electrified by the news and the Klondike promise.
      The Port Townsend Leader chose, however, to ignore the event, noting only that 'the tug SEA LION went to the Cape yesterday;' they featured a story two days later, headlined 'MOUNTAIN OF GOLD,'  about the purported gold find of three Port Townsend men at the headwaters of the Big Quilcene River in the Olympics. 'We have a Klondyke (an early spelling) of our own right here at our door,' Dr. J.C. House proclaimed. Acknowledging the stampede that was gathering throughout Puget Sound for passage to the Yukon, House repeated, 'For mine, I will take my Klondyke in the Olympics and won't have to travel 2,500 miles to get there either.' As it turned out, chances were better in the Klondike. House estimated that his find was valued at 'thousands, if not millions,' but nothing came of it. But the economy of Puget Sound, moribund since the depression of 1893, surged into prosperity with the rush to gold.
      Pt. Townsend men were among the first to schedule trips north. Among them was William J. Jones, who founded the Leader but sold it to become a U.S. commissioner stationed at the Alaska-Yukon border. His concern for gold was secondary. Representing the US. government in the affairs of its citizens taking gold out of Canada, Jones also turned his newspaper background into a side enterprise  when he contracted as special correspondent with 21 newspapers, including Frank Leslie's Weekly, the New York World, and the New York Herald, but not the Leader. He received fifteen dollars from Frank Leslie for a one-thousand word article, and eight dollars to ten dollars per column from other periodicals. His early reports, reprinted by the Leader from other papers, told of the trials of the ill-prepared miners during that first year of scramble after gold.
      Port Townsend merchants did their best to make certain that no one was under supplied. 'Last on, first off' was the marketing slogan local outfitters used to attract the hordes of stampeders. Nearly all Klondikers en route to Skagway stopped in Port Townsend, their last U.S. stop before Alaska and the rugged Chilkoot Pass. Local merchants advertised in Klondike promotional publications, noting that the gold-seekers'  supplies would be stowed on top of those manifested in Seattle and would therefore be unloaded first, giving Pt. Townsend passengers an edge in the mad dash to Dawson before the snows closed access to the Yukon for the winter. The Pt. Townsend Board of Trade claimed that outfits could be bought in Pt. Townsend for 5 to 20 percent less than any other city on Puget Sound, and they even found miners to testify to that fact. Whatever the truth behind the hype, most gold seekers chose Seattle, and the booming business in the Queen City settled any lingering arguments about which town would be the primary metropolis of the Northwest. All Port Townsend got for its effort was an enduring though unsubstantiated legend concerning JACK LONDON.
Above words Simpson, Peter. City of Dreams. Bay Press, Pt. Townsend. 1986.

There is Seattle waiting to welcome the gold ship,
Photo caught O. by Frasch.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S. © 
"The PORTLAND came very near being two days late winning a place in history for herself. The EXCELSIOR had picked up the first of the Klondike miners at Nome and arrived at San Francisco on 15 July carrying almost as rich a treasure as the PORTLAND. It was a publicity man named Erastus Brainerrd who made the steamer PORTLAND famous, gave the great gold rush to Seattle and made Alaska a 'suburb' of that enterprising Pacific Northwest city." Newell & Williamson. Pacific Coastal Liners. Superior Publishing. 1959


12 November 2016


Two of these photos include
San Juan County mariners.

The LOTTIE (bottom photo) was built on Cypress Is.
Click photo to enlarge.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"The waterfronts of the little cities––what delightful places they are! How friendly and informal and jolly are the men who work down there. Why is it that you never expect to get a story from a dressed-up man but are sure of getting one from that same man when he is wearing overalls? Especially if the overalls are torn and very dirty. More especially if he wears an old sweater that has quite evidently seen many winters of use. And most especially if there is a smell of the sea about the man.
      Go down to the waterfront and listen to the stories of the fishermen and boatmen down there if you want to know something of the romance of Puget Sound.
      The smells of the docks––smell of tarred logs, of seaweed, of humans, of oil, gas, old sacks, food, fish. They are the smells of adventure. When I went down to the docks the first time after getting back to Puget Sound I stopped a block or so from the waterfront to savor the smells.
      It was early afternoon. The dock was nearly deserted. I heard the put-put of a gas launch below getting ready to pull out. Her master was untying ropes. He did not see me watching him, homesick to be a-going with him, wherever he was going. Fishing, maybe. Maybe he owns an island was going home. He'll be loaded with supplies––staple groceries and grain for his chickens and turkeys. When he gets home he will do some fall plowing, or perhaps he'll just putter around with the chores and listen to the radio in the evenings, read his paper and go to bed. The islanders live many lives of hardship, if that makes sense. 
75-ft passenger boat with a 75-HP Buffalo engine.
Built in 1912 by A.J. Goulette at Everett, running in charge
of Capt. J. H. Prather, at that time.
A Capt. Prather descendent suspects there are family members
in this photo c. 1912.
A few years later Capt. Kasch of Anacortes was the owner/operator.

Photographer unknown. Click to enlarge.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      The ALVERENE lay against the piling of the dock. It gave me a curious shock to see her, as if she were a friend I had been homesick for. Filled me with nostalgia to be aboard, bound for island harbors.
      But when I discovered the CALCITE from Roche Harbor and fat old Pete Larsen, her captain, talking down on a float I felt as if I had got home in truth, for Roche Harbor lies nearest to Sentinel, our homestead island, and a boat from that lovely bay is a boat from home. Pete remembered me and I sent messages to old neighbors. 
       Over against a dock opposite, a score of tugboats and fishing boats swung at anchor. The TULIP QUEEN, the NEW YORK––surely that little fellow doesn't hail from New York. She can't have made it from there. Maybe her owner is a New Yorker as homesick for the tumult and mad rush of his home harbor as I have been for the little harbors of Puget Sound. 
      The San Juan Second! There she sits. Waiting for a new engine, they tell me. How proud she will be to go 'clickety-click' like a little one! the owners of the SAN JUAN II were among the first people in this land to welcome us ten years ago when we were here to homestead Sentinel. 
  US Mail boat for San Juan County.
Early 1920s photo with crew, George Stillman, 
(standing on the rail.)
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
They used to run the boat themselves and many are the pleasant hours I've spent in her pilothouse talking to old Captain Maxwell. They used to stop off at Sentinel Island to load or unload passengers for us. And once or twice we've hailed them from mid-channel to give them a fine cod we had caught that morning.
      The boat BALKO. Why that name? Won't she go? The big tugs DIVIDEND and PROSPER. Were they named in high hopes before the dividends and prosperity or have they been named in appreciation of their performances? The fine tug IROQUOIS. She burns more than a hundred barrels of oil a day and more when she works very hard.
      'There's Ed down there,' I heard somebody say. 'Has he stopped fishing for the year or has he got his nets off for repair?'
      'No matter whether he ever fishes again,' another replies. 'He has enough to do him. Fifty or a hundred thousand invested right here in Bellingham, if he has a cent. Made it all fishing, too. Fish running fine this year, they say. Hey, Ed! You stopped fishing?' But Ed is busy with his ropes and doesn't hear. They are wrangling her in between two other fishing boats where she rides lightly, her mast swinging from side to side just the least bit. 
      Tugs going out and tugs coming in. 
Unidentified tug in San Juan County.
Photo by Fred Darvill, Orcas Island.
Do you know this character?
Photo from the archivies of S.P.H.S.©
Heavy squat powerful bulldoggy looking fellows and long slender, swifter ones each out after his own peculiar type of load. I watch them walking the waters of the harbor off down towards the island and I decide that 'When I'm a man' I'll be a boat captain!' See you tomorrow. June."

07 November 2016


River steamboat HARVEST QUEEN
846 t. 200-ft., built at Celilo in 1878.
She and 8 or 9 other vessels were transferred to
the lower river in 1881, where this story begins.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

The term 'Mosquito Fleet' may, to readers not familiar with the Puget Sound Country, suggest only very small craft. It was however, a phrase universally employed by the people and publications of that section to differentiate the Sound steamers from ocean and coastwise fleet. Some of the inland ships were as large as the deep-sea vessels, but their trade placed them in the 'Mosquito Fleet.' The term enjoys the authenticity of tradition and long usage. Author, historian Gordon Newell, 1951.

"The serenity of this scene as the HARVEST QUEEN moves out of her slip heading for the Columbia River is in sharp contrast to an earlier run of the HARVEST QUEEN––one that took her over Celilo Falls.
In 1881, hard times on the Middle River above the rocky barrier at Celilo Rapids had prompted the passage. It was a risky one. To breach the falls meant a 20-ft drop over a basalt ledge. Then followed the hazards of rock strewn Tenmile Rapids. This churning gutted into a mile long cauldron that compressed the Columbia between sheer rock walls less than 300-ft apart.

      Running the Celilo Rapids was first accomplished in 1866 when Capt. Thomas Stump threaded the OKANOGAN through the hazardous chasm, followed by other sternwheelers of similar size: the NEZ PERCE CHIEF, the classic ONEONTA, the HASSALO (II), and now one of the river's finer steamers, the HARVEST QUEEN. At the helm was Capt. James W. Troup, 29, who six years earlier had entered the HARVEST QUEEN's pilot house as her skipper. Peter De Huff, a veteran riverboat engineer, manned the engine room throttle as she moved from her Celilo slip. A slight rise in the low River had prompted the young captain to make his move. For a few minutes it seemed as though it might be his last for, as the HARVEST QUEEN swept into the narrow chute, she was unable to clear the ledge.
The rocks tore into the stem of the 200-ft steamer, ripping off her rudders and disabling the engine supports. Legend has it that Capt. Troup picked up his speaking tube and shouted:

'Back her, Pete! Back her if you love me!'
'I can't. Everything's busted,' came the doleful reply.

      Captain Troup, with the skill of command that was to make him an outstanding riverboatman on the Columbia and the Fraser, left his useless wheel. Anchors and kedges were dropped to pull the drifting HARVEST QUEEN out of the whirlpools and away from the threatening rocks into the eddy. The worst was over. Defying the chill waters, the steamer's crew completed repairs. Within two days, the HARVEST QUEEN was ready and defiant, sweeping at railroad speed through the remaining rapids to be greeted by cheering crowds at the Dalles."

Above words by author Jim Faber, The Steamers Wake. Entetai Press, Seattle. 1985.
6-ft long ship model by Spencer W.Young, 1953.
Young took 13 months to make the craft of birch, oak, pine, and
mahogany. Boilers and twin engines drive walking beams,
11" long, that turn the paddlewheel. The lounge is furnished
with a grand piano, armchairs, tables, all to scale.
LIghts come on in cabins and smoke pours from the stack.
Unknown photographer.

Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
1928: Capt. Troup had a truly great maritime career that closed with his retirement at age 73 years of age––having passed the age limit set by BC Coast Steamship Service by 8 years.

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