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

About Us

My photo
San Juan 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.

29 December 2017


13 August 1916.
First came an informal opening of the large lock.
In this photo, the ORCAS, belonging to
the US Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District,
quite fittingly is the first power vessel to pass
into the canal. Nearby is the vessel SWINOMISH 
 also being raised to the upper level.
Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
THE ROOSEVELT leading the parade the next year, for
the official opening of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
4 July 1917

Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Photographer unknown.
The year almost slipped past without a cheer from us but San Juan County did send at least one boat for the 1917 parade and a century later, the birthday event had lots of coverage. Let us join in with a tip our hat to the big celebration for people from all over Puget Sound. The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks turned 100 in July 2017 and people, some in classy period dress, were dancing in the street to ragtime music. Others were picnicking on the grass for the holiday weekend party for what is more commonly called the Ballard Locks.
      A historical display from Rainier Valley and Fremont Historical Societies, History Link, and Friends of the Ballard Locks was open for viewing.
      The Ballard Locks, one hundred years later, are the most heavily used locks in the entire US with more than 49,000 transits in a given year.
      Of the 200 boats in the 1917 parade, only two are known to still be afloat. To see more about the parade leader please click here.
      One of the large vessels that was a participant in the parade was being built on Orcas Island and finished just in time to sail down for the party in 1917.
The yacht SANWAN
The last vessel designed and built by a former mayor
of Seattle and retired shipyard owner,
Robert Moran from 1912-1917 at his estate at 
Rosario, Orcas Island, San Juan Archipelago.
Photographer unknown.
Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Launched 7 June 1917
Here comes the SANWAN as part of the big parade 
on 4 July 1917
through Montlake Cut, on the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
Photographer unknown.
Photograph from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

24 December 2017


Christmas greetings from the
Central Planning and Estimating Section 
& the Progress and Material Sections
Puget Sound Navy Yard (n.d.) above.

With less color but gin & tonics and fresh
evergreens for the 63rd Co. C.A.C.
Fort Worden, Port Townsend, WA.

Christmas 1911 (dated.)
Bottom photo from the Torka Studio.

This card to thee comes with sprigs of 
herb Rosemary ("Dew of the Sea.")

Click image to enlarge.

17 December 2017


A light draft boat built in 1880 by Capt. Geo. Raabe.

Original 1930 photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Log©
In this photo above the steamer N. R. LANG was on her way from Camas to Portland with a load of paper when caught in ice that closed around her at Ryan's Point, 1 1/2 miles upstream from the Interstate bridge. She was reported held in the frozen mass 150 yards from shore. Provisions were carried across the ice during the afternoon and with steam being kept up aboard, while Captain Ed Williams and other of her company were prepared to make the best of the situation. 

1900: rebuild for Joseph Kellogg.
1918: Owned by Western Transportation Co of Portland

1940: She was scrapped for metal.

14 December 2017


The REDWOOD first heads to Alaska on the Inside Passage.

"In the middle of August 1919, I shipped as AB on the SS REDWOOD in Seattle and joined her at the Bell Street terminal, where she had finished discharging salmon from Alaska. She was built and owned by Pacific American Fisheries (P.A.F.) in Bellingham. From the terminal, we proceeded to Point Wells for bunkers. 'Fill her up!' was the master's order. The captain was Harry Fletcher, known to his friends and associates as 'Curly.' The 'fill her up' order meant to also fill up the extra fuel storage by which she supplied the various PAF canneries in Alaska. From Point Wells, we went to Bellingham to load stores and provisions including several truckloads of meat. The next day, off for Alaska via the inside passage. After a flying stop in Ketchikan to clear ship we proceeded out Clarence Strait, south of Baranof Island, across the Gulf of AK and through Unimak Pass to the P.A.F. cannery at Port Moeller on the Bering Sea.
PAF workers near Killisnoo, AK.

      The cannery was closed and only two winter watchmen were there. All the extra provisions and most of the meat was for them. We also filled the fuel tanks and then loaded the remainder of the season's canned salmon, several barrels of salt salmon, salt codfish, and black cod. Also, some broken down cannery machinery to be repaired in P.A.F.'s shop in Bellingham. After two days at Port Moeller, we left for the whaling station at Akutan. Although the whaling season was over, we could smell the station long before we saw it. But in a life with many other inconveniences, nobody noticed that dead whale odor nor mentioned it after one day. Several families lived there in Akutan including some Indians. Whatever extra meat we had left was discharged and we also filled the watchmen's fuel supply. Then we started to load whale oil and whale meal and some broken machinery to be repaired in Tacoma. After three days we sailed south. This time we entered S.E. Alaska via Cape Spencer and stopped in Excursion Inlet on Icy Strait to fill the fuel tanks at their cannery and also to pick up some canned salmon and 'iron chinks' to be repaired. We stopped at High Point, another P.A.F. cannery near Wrangell to again pick up odds & ends and fill their bunkers. Then home to Bellingham to put all the P.A.F. machinery ashore. The salmon was discharged at Bell St. in Seattle. Then to Tacoma to deliver the machinery from Akutan to the American Whaling Co's own dock. We returned to the Bell St. terminal in Seattle to discharge the whale oil, sperm oil, and whale meal. Everybody aboard, mates, sailors, engineers, firemen, stewards, and flunkies had started making plans for the winter. Under ordinary circumstances, we would take the ship to Bellingham to be tied up over the winter until the AK canneries had to be aroused again in the spring.

REDWOOD's travel routes
follow the path of thousands before her.
 We were all standing by, engines were warmed, ready to sail, when our jovial skipper came aboard in a state of ecstasy, 'Boys, we are going to South America.' To tell the truth, nobody believed such a fantastic exclamation. After taking the ship from the dock and heading north for West Point he turned the ship over to the second mate telling him we were stopping at Point Wells for bunkers: 'Call me about 1/2 mile off the dock and ask the chief to come to my room.' After bunkering at Point Wells, we sailed for Bellingham to go on the ways and have the bottom cleaned and painted and take on stores. And then, only then, the captain told us we were going to Aberdeen, WA to load bunkers for Callao, Peru and there to load Chilean ore for the Tacoma smelter.
      Down the Sound, around Cape Flattery and to the Grays Harbor bar we went.

      In Aberdeen, we loaded a full cargo of lumber including a deck load. The Standard Oil dock in San Pedro, CA was our next stop for bunkers and stores. Among the stores were several live turkeys, our congenial cook, and steward doing all the buying. There may be some old timers who knew him, he was known as "Porkchop Levy." And as everyone from the captain down will testify, he was an excellent cook and steward. Bunkers and larder full we sailed for Callao.
      We arrived 20 December 1919, and on the 25th sat down to a true American turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Yes, it was a banquet. Preceded by a cocktail of your choosing and a bottle of red or white wine for everyone. Not only that but at the steward's urging, everybody had one or two invited guests. We also had three decorated Christmas trees from the forests of our State of Washington. We had picked them up in Aberdeen and by stowing them under the forecastle boards and keeping them wetted down, they were in excellent condition. We had one for the officer's mess, one for the crew's mess and one of the flying bridge. That afternoon we also had a children's party aboard. The steward outdid himself that day. He got the kids aboard to sing Christmas carols even though he didn't understand Spanish.
      On 5 January, we left for Antofagasta, Chile. Here we loaded ore, but of a different kind. On the 15th we sailed back to the US. First stop, San Pedro for bunkers and also to clear ship. Then through the Golden Gate to discharge the ore loaded in Mejillones at Selby's smelter up the Sacramento River. Then out the Golden Gate again for Cape Flattery, up the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound to the Tacoma smelter where we discharged the copper ore loaded at Chile. After discharge, including all sweepings, the REDWOOD went home to Bellingham to get ready for the business for which she was built, namely servicing the P.A.F. canneries in AK. Everyone aboard agreed that this time spent on SS REDWOOD from the Bering Sea to South America and back to Puget Sound had been one of the most memorable times in their life. Amen!"
Jens Ettrup, Memories of the Redwood published by The Sea Chest, the membership journal of Puget Sound Maritime, Seattle,WA. September 1971.

10 December 2017


Special Presentation-Good Food-Good Friends. Join in for a fun and festive holiday party, this is hosted by the crew from Waterfall and open to all Nakat employees and those with an interest in Alaska fishing trade, including current and past workers, spouses, and friends!

Please click image to enlarge. 

05 December 2017


Schooner built at Hall Brothers Shipyard, Port Blakely, WA.
for the account of the builders, 1899.
170' x 37'.6 x 12.8'
566 G.t.
She had a checkered career after passing
from Hall ownership.

Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

File Charge Against Schooner's Crew

Victim of a system of hazing which he says is practiced aboard the vessel at sea, beaten and tortured by officers and members of the crew, and finally driven ashore at Valparaiso under threat of death, was the experience of James Oliver, donkey engineer of the American schooner Lottie Bennett. This according to a complaint made by Oliver to the US commissioner of navigation, WA, DC, and forwarded to US Shipping Commissioner William Welsh of Tacoma for investigation.
      A reign of terror prevailed during the entire voyage with the mate acting the stellar role, according to Oliver in his charge filed against the officers of the schooner.
      That the troubles some time aboard the Lottie Bennett were in the nature of an international fray is shown in the roster of the vessel, as given by Oliver. He explained that the captain was a Swede, the mate a Russian Finn, and the crew consisted of two Germans, a Norwegian, an Englishman and himself.
      "I was the only American aboard and they all took turns to abuse me," said Oliver. "when I was not the butt of their jokes and the victim of their hazing practices, the Englishman was at their mercy.

      "They made the ship a perfect hell day and night. The mate, with a revolver in each hand, kept strutting about the deck and at all times wore brass knuckles ready to knock down any member of the crew who was in his way."
      Oliver states that on 6 April 1914, the Englishman, while at the wheel, was knocked down, both eyes blackened and his nose broken by the mate, who attacked him without the least provocation. He says that he and the Englishman were told they would be driven ashore at Valparaiso and threatened with death if they remained aboard after the Lottie Bennett reached the port on the Chilean coast.
      The Lottie Bennett has loaded here [Seattle] on many occasions. She is now en route from Valparaiso to the Columbia River.
Pacific Lumber Ships. Gordon Newell and Joe Williamson. Bonanza.
There is another Saltwater People post on the Schooner LOTTIE BENNETT HERE

02 December 2017


ISLANDER, Obstruction Pass,
between Orcas and Obstruction Islands.

Original photo by James A. McCormick from the 

Saltwater People Historical Society© archives. 
I am off San Juandering again. I have always dearly loved San Juan Island, Speiden, Stewart, Johns, Sentinel, and Cactus Islands and supposed Orcas and Lopez and the rest could not possibly be so nice, or their people so friendly and lovable.
       But just as soon as each little bay and each high sunny point is peopled with friends these other islands will become precious, too. And so for the first time, I'm off to browse among the gnarled madronas to climb the high hills, to see the far views of Orcas.
      I never come aboard one of these little Sound boats but I marvel that I've been able to stay off them for so long. How is it I've walked city streets, turned the pages of dusty books, talked about business things when all this time these little boats are going up and down, up and down, and I not aboard one of them? How do we resist the lure of these channels and the wheedling appeal of island coves?
The sun is warmer out here on the bay, the wind softer, the lift and fall of the waves sweeter than the nicest swing father ever made.
SAN JUAN II with winter weather,
scan courtesy of Charles Torgeson
The Chickawana has taken the run of the San Juan II with the Tulip King to pinch-hit for the Chick. We did not come past the old hulk of the San Juan, where she lies naked and broken in Peavine Pass, but I heard stories of her last trip. One said she was driven ashore a scant few feet from a sharp ledge off which she would have gone to the bottom and all with her if the sea had not carried her to safety. But from the crew of the Chickawana, I could get no stories. Maybe they want to forget that wild night. Or maybe it was all in a day's work to them. But certain it is they won't talk much about it though you'd think each of them would have a tale all made up trimmed with thrills and horrors. The adventure of a shipwreck is wasted on folks who don't know they've had one!
original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      I left the boat at Olga, the second stop on Orcas, the first being Doe Bay. The sun shone brightly on this new snow of the dock but icicles tinkled on the edges of the north wind and I was glad to find the fire in the big fireplace of the hotel kept by Mrs. Alexander and her daughter, Fairy Burt.
      I had stopped at Olga to see Mr. Ferri, the great artist of whom lately I'd heard and whom I met one day on a Bellingham street. But he is gone now and his pictures gone, too. A fire in his studio a few weeks ago destroyed pictures and sketches and dreams of a lifetime. His studio had burned to the ground and I did not go to see the ashes. He is gone too, though I think he will be back. For the sun still shines on this matchless point of earth and the Olympics still notch the horizon to the south. Who has once loved and lived in such a spot cannot long stay away. Mr. Ferri is not an old man for all his long years of work and his pictures were but the body of his dreams--the essence of them is here yet. Please come back to the islands Mr. Ferri, wherever you have gone, and trap some of this beauty on canvas again! The radiance is wasted upon just us who without artist's eyes cannot see a complete glory.
       A chance encounter had given me the acquaintance of Dr. Madison, also of Olga, a physician, and writer. So that failing to find Mr. Ferri I still had one small excuse for stopping here. What was my surprise and delight, upon telephoning Mrs. Madison, to be invited to a dinner being given that evening to local friends. Nowhere else in the world, perhaps, would it have happened. Nowhere else have there been such things to eat. And nowhere else could I have gone in breeches and boots to dine with ladies in velvet. Nowhere else have stories what went round that table, of deer eating up the cabbages in the game warden's garden and he says all he can do about it is to plant more next time! See you tomorrow. June."

24 November 2017


Steam tugs ROCHE HARBOR (L)
at Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.

Undated photo collected by J. Williamson.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
For tug ROCHE HARBOR admirer, Ron Burke.

"At twilight when nights swift approach lays shadows o're the waters,
We yearn for home and loved ones, our wives, our sons, and daughters.
Some sing a song of the open sea and a sailor's life Yo! Ho!
But set me down on a plot of ground with just a plain old hoe.

How we sweat our way to Panama; then pitched and tossed to Hilo.
We're Northbound now, but Lord only knows we may next depart for Rio.
We growl about our lot, of course; the old lube leak and the roast beef's horse.
And when the Skipper plots a course, that he comes out
where he wants to be, is a never-ending mystery.

The engine's worn; we should have sails; to us, the miles go by like snails.
We always get there, never fear, but it makes each week seem like a year.
The water's rusty, the bunks are hard, all cooks are fiends and
should boil in lard.

The mates! well anyway, when at last to her home pier the ship is fast,
Each one departs with a solemn vow, ne'er to return to that ol' scow.
But when the dawning's bright and clear, comes our fervent cry to the bossman's ear.
Are we sailing soon? Oh! why not now, and what's delaying us anyhow?"

Composed by William House. Piling Busters Yearbook. Seattle, WA. Mitchell Pub. 1951.

20 November 2017

❖ MOSQUITO MERWIN––Hauling the Gold Rushers ❖

(Left) W. K. MERWIN 1883-1900
ON 80959
On the Snohomish River.
108' x 22.5' x 4.2'
G.t. 229.08, N.t. 165.04
MAY QUEEN on right.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
This image appears in several PNW maritime books, also
with photographer unknown.

      "The W. K. MERWIN was built in Seattle in 1883, for Captain W. K. Merwin, who then sold her to the Washington Steamboat Co. She was assigned to the Olympia-Seattle run for a short time and then was switched to run the Skagit River, which served the rich agricultural towns of the region, under the command of Capt. Merwin. A disastrous collision with the railroad bridge in Mt. Vernon, 19 January 1896, wiped out all the upper works, including the pilothouse and Texas deck, which was reduced to kindling back to the smokestack.
      Repairs were made to the superstructure, after the accident, and the W.K. MERWIN was used for a few months on Puget Sound––then the old vessel was laid up to rot on the Snohomish River.
      The gold rush days of the Klondike brought on a demand for anything that would float so the MERWIN was prepared for a tow up the coast to St. Michael by the Moran Shipyards in 1897. One of the noticeable changes made in the vessel was the installation of public toilets the entire width of the upper deck abaft of the glass-enclosed saloon. She was encased from bow to stern in a wooden jacket to protect her against possible high seas en route. The stack and the wheel were removed and stowed on deck. 
      The steam tug RICHARD HOLYOKE took the W. K. MERWIN, the POLITKOFSKY, an old vessel which was filled with coal, and a small yacht, the BRYANT, and headed for Alaska with 16 passengers boarded up inside. These people were willing to do anything to reach the gold fields. The MERWIN's towline parted once en route when she encountered a terrific storm but the tug succeeded in getting a second line aboard. Capt. Tom Lyle was in charge of the MERWIN and eventually started her up the Yukon. They were forced into winter quarters in a blind slough at the Indian village of Nanook. Here they spent nine months icebound and still hundreds of miles from the gold fields.
      The MERWIN arrived in Dawson the end of June 1898, taking ten months and 20 days to make the trip from Seattle. On her next trip, she left Dawson on 4 July 1898, for a trip to St. Michael. Late in the season she again reached Dawson and was credited with bringing 50 tons of freight into the city on each trip.
      The Columbia Navigation & Trading Co was shown as her owners and as far back as 25 December 1897, that company was listing the name of the W. K. MERWIN as one of their boats in Seattle P-I ads soliciting freight and passengers for the trip up the Yukon to Dawson. 
      The W. K. MERWIN was then assigned to the upriver run, making a trip to White Horse Rapids before coming back down to Hootalinqua to lay up for the winter. This trip was almost her downfall as on her way back down river from the rapids she was trying to get by the sunken steamer JAMES DOMVILLE in Thirty Mile River and was driven against the hull almost wrecking the MERWIN. 
      She delivered 200 tons of freight to Dawson the following spring from her winter quarters. While wintering at this location, the Messrs. Hamilton, LeBlank, and McGrade bought the vessel. 
      The new owners elected to withdraw her from the upriver run because of the hazards of Five Finger Rapids and removed her steam capstan.
       The new owners had a change of heart about the need for a steam capstan because on 15 July 1899, they sent outside for a replacement. That year the MERWIN wintered in Dawson in 1900, where Alex McDonald chartered her to make a trip to Nome and arranged to have her fitted for ocean travel. By this time the excitement of the Dawson strike had died down and the new find of gold in Nome was the news of the day.
      The  W.K. MERWIN was poorly stocked with food for the trip and her 200 passengers soon lowered the supply to the danger point. The boat and her barge were so crowded that people had to stand up on the way, and they were forced to eat in shifts. At Circle City, they tried to stock up with provisions but the town had nothing to sell except whiskey so they took a 40-gallon keg aboard for the bar. Capt. R. A. Talbot disappeared at this point and the crews refused to work as they had not been paid. Finally, the MERWIN got on the way again and stopped at every trading post from then on but found not a thing for sale. The trip had started from Dawson on 31 May 1899, without replenishing the stock cleaned out the previous winter. The food shortage became so acute that the MERWIN resorted to stopping occasionally so passengers could try their luck at shooting ducks and geese and to gather eggs on the shore. Upon reaching St. Michael they found plenty of food.
      The W. K. MERWIN was wrecked on the beach at Nome during a storm on 2 August 1900. She was declared a total loss which was a sad ending for the oldest boat to be taken over the ocean route to the Yukon River. 
      As a special note of interest, Capt. Jack Green showed up in history for the first time as pilot of the W. K. MERWIN in June of 1899. Capt. Green went on to other vessels and was captain of the second steamer YUKON when its ill-fated crew lost their lives in the fall of 1918. They had finished a successful season on the river and were on their way to their homes on the outside, aboard the steamship PRINCESS SOPHIA which hit a rock south of Skagway and sank with all hands." 
Arthur E. Knutson. The Sea Chest Journal of the Puget Sound Maritime; Seattle, WA. March 1988. 

11 November 2017


ON 66840
She sailed under names: USRC BEAR, USCGC BEAR,
flags of 3 nations, U. K., U. S., and Canada.
The BEAR had a career of 89 years in Polar Seas
as a Revenue cutter, rescue vessel, war hero,
humanitarian, movie star, and floating museum.


When the dews and damps of a deep-laid hull
Have rotted my body and soul,
When the seas have washed atop of my rigging
And no more will I reach for the pole,
When the men who go down to the sea in ships
Have seen me no more in southland slips,
When the northland people have looked off to sea 
In vain o'er the floes for a sight of me
Only then is my voyaging done.

When the barking of seal in the sea of the mists
Is echoed by bulwarks of steel,
When the bowheaded monsters of Akutan Bay 
Dive low under the grey iron keel.
When my mainsail and jib and topgallant sheer
Are furled forever from wind and from sleet,
When the men of my crews are phantom-like men
Who will only walk when the dead come again,
Only then are my glories all won.

While the lay of my lines is trim with the sea 
And my freeboard is handsomely high,
While there's coal in my bunkers and sail on my spars
And my helm will steer full and by,
While the pole-seeking hunters each year sally forth
To battle the tides and packs of the north,
While they creak in the nips and freeze in the air,
On I must sail to relieve their despair
Ere my voyaging's done.

I am old I am mellowed with near hundred years
Since my cutwater turned to the sea,
And the sealer and whaler, Aleut, Esquimaux
Signalled or waited in anguish for me.
But now through my timbers there sighs age's breath
And soon I must sail to the cold port of death.
For I have a promise I know I must keep 
And it's waiting for me in the still, silent deep 
Now that my glories are won.

Courtesy, Comdr.  M. A. Ransom (USCG, ret.)
One of the most famous ships ever to work in the 
North Pacific, seen here in Seattle, WA.
Among the Seattle men who served aboard in the 
Arctic was Rear Adm. F. A. Zeusler.
Photograph by James A. Turner, Seattle, WA.
Undated original from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
(L-R) Captain Francis Tuttle with close
friend Robert Moran fishing on Orcas Island, WA.
Tuttle took command of the USRC BEAR in 1896-1898
during the difficult pelagic sealing years in the North Pacific.
He had just brought the BEAR home to Seattle when a
request came from Pres. McKinley to head back north
to try & save 265 whalers trapped in their boats
in the ice near Pt. Barrow. It was specified that only
volunteers should sign on because of the high danger involved.

Tuttle also commanded her 1900-1902 and 1906-1907.
The story of the lengthy Overland Relief Expedition can be found in
The Great Ice Ship BEAR by Polly Burroughs.

A model of the BEAR is on exhibit at the Coast Guard Museum
in Seattle, WA. A post to honor that builder can be seen on 
this site here
There is also another post on the BEAR written by journalist 
R.H. Calkins see here
The above photograph by James McCormick
is from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

aboard U.S.R.C. BEAR
Capt. Cochran served on the vessel
1914-1916, 1921-1924, and in 1926.

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

06 November 2017


Moored at the Lk. Washington Shipyards at Houghton,
near Kirkland, was a fleet of forgotten ships,
once a prominent part of transportation on Puget Sound.
In this group are the old ferry WEST SEATTLE,
the HYAK, the MOHAWK, the TACOMA,
sternwheeler TOURIST, and the tug SEAL,
all veterans of Puget Sound routes.
The MOHAWK escaped the ship breaker's torch to
lead another short chapter as a tug on the Columbia River.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Scty.©
Click image to enlarge.

"What became of the ships of yesteryear?
      To what haven have disappeared the pleasure vessels that residents of Puget Sound country used to board for their Sunday excursions in the days before the automobile?
      One answer was at the Lake Washington Shipyards at Houghton, which became almost a graveyard for an obsolete or obsolescent craft that formerly proudly plied the waters of Puget Sound in a day that is gone.
     Victims of men's changing habits, changing whims, and political views and of mechanical progress, these once gay ships, formerly brightly painted and kept spic and span, were tied up, many of them apparently for the last time, with a few that were still in good condition, waiting new uses for which they were still fit.
      Not only the coming of the automobile, the motor truck, the new streamlined ferry and modern freight boat, has helped to consign these once fine ships to oblivion.
      The passing away of such social and economic theories as prohibition has also helped to put an end to the usefulness of some of the old steamers.
      Such was the City of Victoria, which in its heyday plied between Edmonds and Victoria, to carry thirsty passengers beyond the boundaries of the USA for week-end revelries where bootleggers did not flourish.
      Built in the gay nineties––in 1893 to be exact––at Sparrow Point, MD, the Victoria ran up and down the Chesapeake Bay for many years, until she was brought to Puget Sound for the Victoria run. Many a Seattleite will remember her and will recall pleasant voyages to a more liberal environment during the days before repeal in this steamer's elaborately decorated salons, with their scrolled woodwork and carved finishing, reminiscent of the period when she was first built. Now the City of Victoria wastes away in the wind and weather among her sister ships of another day. 
     The Indianapolis, which once cut the waves between Seattle and Tacoma, and came around the Horn from the Great Lakes before the Panama Canal was completed and before the AYP Exposition in Seattle, was tied up not far from the City of Victoria.
      Built in 1904 in Toledo, Ohio, the Indianapolis piled between Seattle and Tacoma for many years. She was converted later into a ferry and served on other Sound runs until the new diesel ferries put her in her place at last.
      There is the old Sol Duc, built in Seattle in 1912 for the run to Port Angeles. She was retired from service in 1935 after the Sound ferry strike, and after the motor truck had replaced her as a freight carrier, and the modern ferry boat had made her obsolete for the passenger trade.
      Others are the Hyak, once familiar to travelers across the Sound to Poulsbo and Liberty Bay, and the Kulshan, built in 1920 for the service between Seattle and Bellingham.
      Still serviceable for many purposes, but awaiting a buyer, was the sturdy little ship Mohawk (ex-Islander) that used to run from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. She was tied up at the shipyards since the ferry strike of 1935. In the similar case was the Atalanta, built in Tacoma in 1913 for service between that city and North Bay, Case Inlet and Longbranch, later familiar on the run to Whidbey Island. 
       Ghostliest of all the boats at the yard was the old Morning Star, a mere shell waiting for final disintegration. She was out of service for at least 20 years, but in her more prosperous times ran between Seattle and British Columbia points in the service of Frank Waterhouse.
      Others at the Lake WA yards include the old West Seattle ferry, the Oregon, once in the Alaska service, the Beeline and Airline, Quilcene, Comanche, the Washington of Everett, and the Einar Beyer of Wrangell." From the Seattle Times, 1938.


01 November 2017


ON 3270
Full-rigged, 2,156 G.t.–– 2,013 N. t.
244.2' x 43.2' x 18.2'
Crew of 25.
Built by Goss, Sawyer & Packard at Bath, ME, in 1883.

Photo back-dated 18 March 1925
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.©
Paul C. Morris, A Portrait of a Ship. Lower Cape Publishing Co., Orleans, Massachusetts, 1987.
Bibliography, index, 180 photographs, including four color images, 16 pen-and-ink drawings executed by the author as well as a painting of the BENJAMIN F. PACKARD on the dust jacket, book size 9 x 12.5-inches, 200 pages.

      "This fine book is one-of-a-kind for sailing ship historians, model builders, and armchair readers. One reason is that it contains probably the most complete set of photographs ever published about any full-rigged American sailing ship. The vessel is the 'Down easter' BENJAMIN F. PACKARD, that spent 17 years registered on Puget Sound. Morris' book is the life account of a true 'hell ship', one of the latter-day sailing ships, that did not have a good name among Cape Horn sailing ship men, primarily because of the way many of the captains and 'bucko' officers treated them.
      The PACKARD was a well-known vessel on Puget Sound, first as a lumber carrier, sailing from such ports as Port Blakely, Port Townsend, Bellingham, and Tacoma, and later as an Alaska salmon cannery ship sailing out of Seattle.
      The brutalities practiced aboard the PACKARD are recounted by the author from eye-witness accounts and presents a different picture of the days of 'wooden ships and iron men' than some of the romanticized accounts about the days of sail. Shanghaiing, deaths at sea, etc., are all documented in this well-written history of the BENJAMIN F. PACKARD.
      As a thorough photographic record of one of the last down-east square-riggers, A Portrait of a Ship is a must for readers of northwest maritime history covering the period of approximately 1890 to 1925. Moreover, direct quotes from the detailed correspondence of Sewall Company, the PACKARD's owners from 1887-1908, give an insight into the commercial aspects of operating a sailing ship."

The above review was written by historian Michael Jay Mjelde for The Sea Chest, quarterly membership journal of the Puget Sound Maritime Society, Seattle, WA. March 1988.
1925: BENJAMIN F. PACKARD was retired from cannery service of Booth Fisheries Co. 
      She was sold to Hansen & Nieder Lumber Co of Seattle & dispatched to the east coast where it was planned to use her as a coal barge. She was taken over by Theodore Roosevelt Pell of New York, who hoped to keep her afloat as a museum, and for a time she was moored at the foot of 129th Street, New York. 
      One of her longtime masters was Capt. A. A. Aas.

23 October 2017


Halibut steamer SAN JUAN
San Juan Fish and Packing Co, Seattle, WA.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Days of the smoke boats on the halibut banks, of record catches in pea soup fog, of roaring gales in the Gulf of Alaska, and experiences of men against the sea, were recalled by waterfront veterans as two former vessels of the North Pacific fleet, the NEW ENGLAND and the SAN JUAN were moored at the yards of steamship breakers waiting to be scrapped.
      The smoke boats, as fishing vessels propelled by steam were called, were years ago crowded off the banks by the more efficient and less expensive diesel-powered schooners which now comprise the halibut fleet.
      Down at the Deep Sea Fishermen's Union Hall, veterans of smoke boat days in the North Pacific were telling about experiences in the halibut industry.

Halibut schooner NEW ENGLAND
as mentioned below.
According to Andrews and Larssen she outlasted
all her fellow halibut schooners and made her
last trip in 1930.
Capt Freeman was her first skipper and
Capt Michael Scott was her last.
She carried a crew of 36 with twelve dories.

Built 1897 in Camden, N.J.
230 G.t., 70 N.t.
121' x  23.8' x 12'

Low res scan of an original photo from the
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Societ
'Do you remember the old NEW ENGLAND?' asked Harold Grotle. 'Sure, I do, said John Hayden, a smile lighting up his face. 'I fished in her during her last two years, 1926 and 1927. She was a fine vessel.'
Dumping a sling of halibut from the fishing vessel
onto the wharf of the
San Juan Fish and Packing Co.
Back stamp-dated 1934.
Original photo from the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      'Well, I fished in the NEW ENGLAND in 1915 and 1916 off Kodiak Island and in Hecate Strait,' said Grotle. She operated out of Vancouver, B.C., but came to Seattle quite frequently in the old days. She was owned and operated by the New England Fish Co and had a capacity of 220,000 pounds of halibut.
      'And I also was in the old SAN JUAN which fished out of Seattle for the San Juan Fishing and Packing Co, making trips to the banks from 1906 to 1909. Capt. Hans Olson, now a ship commander in the employ of the Alaska Steamship Co, was her master.'
      The NEW ENGLAND nearly foundered in a heavy gale in which the British Columbia Packers' steamship ONWARD HO, was lost with all hands in the winter of 1916. The NEW ENGLAND was iced down and the crew kept the vessel afloat by chopping her free with axes. They saw the ONWARD HO in a sinking condition during the storm but were unable to aid her.
      'The NEW ENGLAND was built in Cramp Shipyards in Camden, N.J. in 1897, and came to the Pacific Northwest in 1898. Among the masters who commanded her were Captains A. Freeman, Ben Joyce, John A. Gott, Wilmer Johnson, George Whelan, Herbert Churchill, P. Keough, John Kolseth and M.B. Scott. The vessel carried a crew of thirty-four men, including 22 fishermen.
      The SAN JUAN, built in Seattle in 1904, was operated from this port c. 14 years by the San Juan Fishing & Packing Co. She made many voyages to the Yakutat Banks and other Alaska fishing grounds. After being retired by the San Juan Co, the vessel was sold to Libby, McNeill & Libby, 13 February 1920, and became a salmon cannery tender. 'There were other smoke boats in the halibut fishing industry besides the NEW ENGLAND and the SAN JUAN,' said Capt. O. A. Johansen, veteran of the waterfront. 'I was master of the wooden steamship ZAPORA, converted into a diesel tug, lost in Southeastern AK. 
Capt. Johansen
on deck of the halibut steamer CHICAGO

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S©
"Smoke boat" CHICAGO
ON 204943
Built Seattle-1908
139' x 24.6' x 15.6'
600 indicated HP
Crew of 50
Photo from the Carl Weber coll; S.P.H.S.©

'For about six years, I was master of the steamship CHICAGO and fished the North Pacific all the way from Cape Flattery to Unimak Pass, the entrance to the Bering Sea. The CHICAGO, a steel vessel, was built in Seattle in 1910 and had a capacity of more than 400,000 pounds of halibut. She was a heavy ship for her size and rode deep in the water. She later towed logs in B.C. Other smoke boats were the INDEPENDENT of the San Juan Co and WEIDING BROTHERS, owned by the Weiding family. They were widely known fishing vessels of other days on the bank.'
Published in the Seattle Times in 1939 and later included in Fish and Ships by Ralph W. Andrews and A.K. Larssen. Bonanza Publishing. 1957.
Cleaning halibut at sea.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Landing halibut at home in Seattle.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
425 pounds of Halibut
8-ft 6-inches x 4-ft 3-inches
Caught by the crew of the fishing schooner VENTURE
on the Portlock Banks in the Gulf of Alaska.
Original photo date-stamped April 1934.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Unloading halibut at a Seattle pier
Original photo backdated 28 July 1935.
FEARLESS, built 1912 for Henry Cayou, Deer Harbor,
at Reed's Shipyard, Decatur Island.WA.
Lost near Kodiak, AK, with 4 crew in 1960
loaded with king crab.

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

Cutting off the halibut heads
Weiding Bros and Independent Fisheries Co
Seattle, WA.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Seattle halibut boats return to off-season moorage.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

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