"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 750, 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 March 2017

❖ CABIN BOY LANDS AT AMERICAN CAMP, Company D, 9th Infantry. ❖

Author/historian Lucile McDonald interviews William Rosler of Friday Harbor, 1960.
San Juan Island, WA.
Officer's quarters; commanding officer's home; 
suspected married soldier's quarters. 
According to author, one building is believed to be 
the camp hospital. A blockhouse overlooked the 
front entrance to the encampment.
Unknown artist.
Sketch archived with BC Archives, Victoria.
Photo print from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Rabbit hunters from the mainland who visit San Juan Island had been making a shambles of the monuments at historic American Camp, relic of the 'Pig War' days of the 1800s when American and British troops jointly occupied the island.
      The three monuments in the park were pock-marked and chipped and the inscription plates had been bruised by bullets.
      San Juan County authorities did not like what had happened to their landmark, but the site was where the 'wild' rabbits congregated in greatest numbers.
      William Rosler of Friday Harbor, son of Christopher Rosler, one of Capt. George Pickett's soldiers who helped build American Camp, remembered when there were no rabbits to shoot on San Juan.
William Rosler, age 81 years.
son of Christopher Rosler,
a soldier at American Camp, 
San Juan Island, WA.
Photo dated 1960.
Original photo from S.P.H.S.© 

      'We used to hunt 'coon when I was a boy,' Rosler said.
      Rosler is the only first-generation descendant of the 'Pig War' soldiers in the islands. His father, who died in 1907, was the last survivor of the original garrison. His mother died two years later.
      Rosler, at 81, has a keen memory.
      'My father was a subject of the Duke of Hesse until he changed his citizenship. See, that's what it says on this paper.'
      Rosler displayed a declaration of intention to become an American citizen, sworn to at Port Townsend in Feb 1861, by his father.
      'Dad came to the US from Germany as cabin boy on a ship when he was 14. He worked for an uncle who was a shoemaker in New York. Dad wanted to go west to the gold fields and the only way he knew to do it without money was to enlist. Instead of stopping in California, the troops were sent to Steilacoom. Dad got shot in the arm during an Indian-war skirmish. He was shipped to Fort Bellingham under Captain Pickett and from there to San Juan.
      'After five years in the service, Dad was discharged from Company D, 9th Infantry, on the island. He took a soldier's homestead close to the camp. The first work he did was to haul wood for the fort. He kept on doing it until the troops left in 1873.
      B.C. Gillette owned the right to the adjoining homestead at American Camp and my father bought his preemption.'
      Rosler has the two patents among his papers, one dated 1873 and the other ten years later.
      The original log house on the homestead burned and was replaced with a frame one.
      Bill's mother was an Indian, born at Fort Simpson, BC, in 1846. Her family moved to Griffin Bay, north of the military post in 1861, and she was married to Rosler a year later, while he still was in the Army.
      Her people had a village––at least 20 families––not far from my father's homestead,' Bill Rosler recalled.
      When I was a kid most of American Camp was standing. I used to play in the old buildings.'
American Camp, San Juan Island, WA.
According to the author, who interviewed oldtimers,
the highest part of this barn served as hospital

 for the US Army encampment.
Date of photo suspected to be before her visit in 1960.

Photographer unknown.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Some of the elder Roslers' house furnishings were obtained from the camp when it was discontinued.
      Rosler told how certain geographical points on the island got their names. He said as a child he used to pick up spent bullets on Bald Hill, where soldiers held target practice. 
Spent lead bullets (7/8" long) and one musket ball found
in the sand dunes of American Camp in c. 1968.
They were left
behind by the US soldiers target practising,
as mentioned by Mr. Rosler, in this interview by L. McDonald.

Now the land is protected as a National Park.
Thank you T.M.
The soldiers stopped on these expeditions at a little island in Griffin Bay and ate their lunch. Ever after it was called Dinner Island.
      Chicken Rock, near Cattle Point, Rosler recalled, was named because of the wreck of a small boat with a load of chickens.
      'Fish Creek, once was called God's Pocket. It was where smugglers hid. Nobody seems to remember that Pear Point was formerly Barrel Point, because of a barrel found there. North Star Rock, also near Griffin Bay, got its name from a boat carrying cattle that was wrecked on it. The animals drowned and floated ashore. Father said he helped to skin them.'
      As part of his duties, the elder Rosler cared for the horses at American Camp. One time he went out to the pasture, wolves took after him. In the early period of the island settlement, many wolves were seen and hunting had a more serious aspect than in modern times.
      Rosler remembers when in summer months Indians camped on the coves and there was a big 'rancheree' at Kanaka Bay in fishing season and another large camp of British Columbia Indians at Deadman's Bay.
     'They came to dry fish and clams and get ready for winter.' Rosler said. 'They used everything they caught. They had to work for it wasn't like playing at hunting rabbits.'"
The above text from The Seattle Times 20 Nov. 1960.

1887: American Camp Color.
"Some thirty of the garrison at the American Camp on San Juan Island have been on the search for the last four days for a notorious character, who formerly dabbled in quartz in Victoria. If Captain Gray finds the "Doc", a ball and chain will grace his 'comely' person for at least one calendar month. He is charged with killing other people's cattle, and using the proceeds for his own benefit."
Puget Sound Gazette. April 1867

25 March 2017

❖ DAVIS BAY CREW, Lopez Island ❖

The first house built on Lopez Island, near Davis Bay.
 Mr. and Mrs. George Mead, James E. & Amelia Davis, 
Lois Davis Middleton; two children are Russell & Leonard Davis.
Meads were friends of the Davis family.
Photo provided to author by Mrs. Lincoln Weeks.
Original print from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

 "At least 150 years have passed since the many branched Davis family of Dungeness and Lopez Island migrated to NW Washington.
      When members of the family got together in 1958 for a reunion at the old farm on Davis Bay, on the southwest side of Lopez Island, 104 descendants of Hezekiah Davis were present. Some 73 lived in Seattle and most of the others lived in nearby counties (in 1960.)
      Lopez Island boasts not only a Davis Bay, but a Davis Point, on its northwest side. The latter is a military reserve, known to the Davises as Jack Shearer's Point, for John Shearer, an Englishman nickname "Panama Jack," who squatted there for a quarter of a century.
      It is a mystery how the name Davis Bay got on the English Admiralty chart of 1859. American coast surveyors had discovered the anchorage in 1854 and called it Shoal Bight, a  name soon forgotten.
      The Davises did not establish homes in Washington until 1860, but there may have been another man of the same surname ahead of them.
      The 1870 census listed Benjamin Davis, farmer from MA, on Lopez.
      Benjamin, who was no relation of Hezekiah and his offspring, probably was the American who tangled with military authorities on San Juan Island in 1865. He had been living on Lopez, running livestock there for several years, an account says, and went to San Juan to farm a seven acre tract on shares.
      After working three months, Davis visited Lopez, to see how his cattle were getting along. On his return to San Juan, he spied a goat, which he said was his property, in the possession of the military officers.
      The commander of the post paid a $5 greenback for the animal. Ben demanded gold instead of devalued currency. Captain Gray, annoyed, asked Davis how long he had been on San Juan and if he did not know that he needed permission to remain there. Davis professed ignorance of the military-occupation rules. He said he wanted to stay. Gray told him the request was too late, Davis must settle his affairs within a week and depart. 
      The settler returned to Lopez. If he was indeed Benjamin Davis, he was still there in 1870, with his Indian wife and child.
      Meanwhile, James L. Davis, a son of Hezekiah, had taken his family to Lopez and built a log house near Davis Bay. None of his descendants ever heard of Benjamin Davis, who must have gone soon after Hezekiah's arrival. Ben was not around when the 1880 census was enumerated.
      The Davis clan, in 1959-1960, became interested in their lineage and several members have pieced bits together. They traced their genealogy back to 1777, when an ancestor received a crown grant of timberland in E. Ontario, Can. 
      Hezekiah, born in 1802, within four miles of Niagara Falls, had five sons, with two who caught the gold-rush fever and headed west.
      At least one of the Davis brothers, maybe two, moved north up the Coast across OR and WA. After seven years and much persuasion, according to  Eunice E. Troxell of Whidbey Island, who was assembling some of the Davis history, her father, James L and mother and three children came west and moved to Lopez in 1869. 
      Amelia Davis, James' wife, was the first white woman on Lopez. It was a lonely place for her. The 22 other settlers were bachelors or had Indian wives.
      James shipped in cattle from Texas by way of San Francisco and contracted to supply meat to the British garrison on San Juan. He hired Indians to clear land for him and, after the boundary dispute ended three years later, he raised matched teams of Percheron horses and branched into dairying.
      Within sight of James' house and directly south of Davis Bay lay 58-acre Long Island, which had been the soldier's homestead of J.J. Culpeper. In 1874 the veteran sold his squatter's rights to Robert Firth of San Juan for $20, less than half the value of a cow.
      Hezekiah stayed on Long Island for some years before returning to Dungeness, where he died in 1890. 
Claude Davis (L) and Arthur Davis of Friday Harbor,
talk over old times at a reunion in 1958. They were standing
on Blowers Beach at the farm established by James L. Davis
on Davis Bay, Lopez Island, San Juan Archipelago.
Duane Weeks provided this photo to the author.
An original print in the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      The Davises on Lopez Island multiplied. James and Amelia had ten children. The first born on the island was James Ernest, to whom his father sold the homestead in 1902. His son-in-law and daughter Lenore (Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln Weeks) live there now (1960.)
      James L. had increased his holdings to 210 acres, a portion of which went to another son, Herbert, who died in 1929. Herbert's widow, Mrs. Mary Davis of Garrison Bay, San Juan Island, was killed in an auto accident in December 1959, closing one chapter of the genealogy." 
The above column by author/historian Lucile McDonald. The Seattle Times, 6 March 1960.

1908: "In December J. L. Davis, the well known farmer of Lopez Island went to Victoria with 274 boxes of apples. The shipment was made on the HERMOSA, of Lopez, which cleared from Friday Harbor. It is 41 years since Mr. Davis took his first shipment of produce from Lopez Island to Victoria, B.C., that being 5 years before the settlement of the boundary dispute. There were no customs officers on the islands then and settlers going to Victoria with produce reported to Capt. Delacombe, in command of the garrison at English Camp to secure a permit from him. Davis said that in the lot of produce that he took to Victoria he had 3 enormous Hubbard squashes that weighed about 90 lbs each and that he sold them for $27. He also sold potatoes in Victoria for $80 per ton and spoke of one lot of 7 tons shipped by schooner ORCAS, operated by Dan and Robert McLachlan." San Juan Islander.

1929: 6 January, Captain Herbert H. Davis passed away at his family home at English Camp, age 61 years, 7 months, son of J.L. and Amelia Davis pioneer residents of Lopez Is. During his early and active work he followed the life of a steamboatman and was one of the best known pilots on Puget Sound. For 15 years he was employed as captain for the Roche Harbor Lime Co. He was the first president of the San Juan Commercial Club, later voted in with a life membership. The Friday Harbor Journal. Publishing date?

1944: 19 October. Capt. Hilliard (Hill) Davis, 41, a native of Lopez Island, member of the well-known family of tugboat men, and master of the Foss ocean tug WANDERER, suffered a fatal heart attack aboard that vessel in October. According to the WANDERER's log book, provided by Jay Peterson of the Foss Co., and information from Jim Henry and Walter Hedwall of that firm, the tug departed the Vancouver, BC grain elevator at 5:15 PM, 19 October with the barge ISLAND FORESTER laden with a full load of grain in tow. After passing out through First Narrows, Capt. Davis went to the after controls on the boat deck while the mate, Dutch Frye, proceeded to pay out the tow-line. When they had better than half the wire out and Capt. Davis still hadn't slowed her down, the mate looked up and saw the captain lying on the deck. Frye fetched up on the towing winch brake and ran to the controls and slowed her down, after which the towline was again shortened and the tug and barge anchored in English Bay. Capt. Davis had died almost instantly. Capt. Walt Stark was sent up from Seattle the next morning to take command of the WANDERER.
From: H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Newell, Gordon, editor. 

1960: Late August or early September Arthur D. Davis, age 87, born on Lopez Island, passed away in Friday Harbor, one-half year after McDonald's Sunday Times interview was published. For many years he operated tug boats to Alaska and between Puget Sound ports. 
From: The Friday Harbor Journal, 8 Sept. 1960


19 March 2017


"I am going to take you back 60 years when I was a boy in Friday Harbor. My brother-in-law, Ashton Thomas, was the sheriff of San Juan County. He was also proprietor of the Bay View Hotel, now the San Juan Hotel, and I was helping there. Sheriff Thomas and his two brothers had a little track of land on Waldron Island where they were [having a boat built.] At that time San Juan County and the entire USA were in the grip of a great depression. There was no employment for anybody. The wages for young men at that time were about $20 a month, and a girl could get $2 a week, if she could find a job. However, SJC was rich with fertile lands and large herds of stock, but there was no call to raise much of anything for there was no sale. The people of that day, couldn't buy a new suit of clothes or a new dress every time there was a dance. However, they made the best of it.
ON 161054
Built on Waldron Island by A.J. Hinckley
for the Thomas Brothers of Waldron Island, WA.
38' x 12' x 3.6' wood sloop
11 May 1894.

Source: Master Carpenter Certificate from the National Archives, Seattle, WA. 

Around the first part of April 1894, one beautiful afternoon a new boat came sailing around Carter Point with brand new sails and fresh paint. This was the little vessel the Thomas boys had built. It wasn't long until she sailed up close to the dock, then it was necessary to get their oars to assist them in getting to the dock. There were no gas or steam engines in those days for smaller boats.

      She landed at Sweeney's Dock and it wasn't long before Thomas was aboard and talking to his two brothers regarding their trip down. For the next two days Sheriff Thomas was very busy taking his friends aboard the new sloop named after my sister, Katy Thomas. After taking some of his friends for a number of short sailing trips into San Juan Channel on a Sunday afternoon, Thomas and his two brothers and three other men left Friday Harbor for a trip to Pt. Townsend to get her measured for register. They went on down through San Juan Channel and through San Juan Pass and then off into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and across, arriving in Pt. Townsend about 5:30 AM Monday.
S.S. LYDIA THOMPSON (on right)
Location: Port of Friday Harbor, San Juan Archipelago.
ON 141266
92' x 28'
b. 1893 by Enos Raymond, Pt. Angeles 
for Thompson Steamboat Co. 
She ran Seattle/Bellingham via the Islands 3 times/week. 
Capt. W. B. Thompson (author of this letter) was master when 
she went on rocks near Orcas Is., 1898.
A post of LYDIA's event that day can be viewed here.
 No lives lost; the crew camped ashore before the LYDIA 
was floated free and towed to Seattle for repairs.
She went back in service for many years of 
uneventful sailing on local runs.
Original undated photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      About that time, the steamer LYDIA THOMPSON, was just arriving from a trip through the Islands at six o'clock. The LYDIA landed a little ahead of the new KATY THOMAS, and as Thomas' boat was coming alongside, three men came running over and were not long in getting into a conversation with the Sheriff. Those three men were looking for a fishing place to start a cannery or something of that sort. In mentioning that to Thomas they couldn't have found a better known man, and after only a few words, Thomas decided to leave his boat and return with those men who were from Astoria, Or. These men were Johnny Devlin, Fred Keen, and Phillip Cook. During the trip from Pt. T. to Argyle in SJC, it gave Thomas plenty of time to line up the different places for fishing and the conditions, pertaining to that business.
      At Argyle they were fortunate enough to find Alfred Douglas with a new buggy and a team of horses who volunteered to drive the four men to Friday Harbor, about one and a quarter miles. A hurried meeting of the merchants and business men of Friday Harbor was called while Thomas stated the conditions that the men were looking for. Called to order–– everybody came to terms almost immediately.
      The men at the meeting were: banker J.A. Gould; Joe Sweeney, merchant: Churchill & Nofsgar, of the San Juan Trading Co; L.B. Carter, merchant; C.L. (Kergy) Carter, former county commissioner; S.E. Hackett, county attorney; C.L. Tucker, county treasurer; Wm Shultz, superintendent of Roche Harbor Lime Co; Mr. E.H. Nash, county clerk; Mr. Louis Hix* and his step-son, Del Hoffman from Shaw Island; the latter two being very important men because they owned the only pile-driver in SJC at that time, and they knew where piling could be obtained.
      The meeting was such a success that those three men from Astoria decided right then and there they would build a cannery in the Harbor, provided Devlin could get the Chinamen to do that kind of work. It was late in the year, for this is what they had to do; they had to build a cannery, get the material to make the cans, install machinery, and have this work done before the 25th of July because that is the time the fish commence to run. The little steamer, SUCCESS, was chartered to take Mr. Devlin and Mr. Keen to Anacortes where Devlin would go to Astoria and Keen would stop at Seattle to arrange conditions there, while Phillip Cook was left in Friday Harbor to open an office to handle the business of a new cannery. 
       Four days later the little steamer MICHIGAN came steaming into Friday Harbor with Captain Howard Buline as master, and Mr. Keen on board as well. Mr. Devlin had succeeded in hiring the Chinese; he stayed in Portland to take care of the business. Two weeks later the steam schooner SIGNAL came steaming into Friday Harbor with lumber, tin plate and all kinds of cannery machinery that was required for the cannery and word went out to all parts of the county for men who didn't have a job, and it was high speed to get the China house built so the Chinese could land and start work.
      It was a bolt of thunder into a silent little community and before twenty days had passed, there wasn't a man, woman or child who wanted to work that didn't have a job.
      The San Juan Trading Co had volunteered to let the newly formed company use their dock at no cost in order to get everything going. Mr. Gould also gave a 30-year lease for enough property on which to build the cannery and China house. From that time on, men would arrive from the OR canning industry and Jimmy Burke, well-known son of homesteader, Alfred Burke of Shaw Island, had charge of placing the machinery in the completed cannery. The Friday Harbor cannery was built and when the fish started to run on 1 August of that year, they were all ready for work. At the close of the season they had canned 18,000 cases of salmon. In those days all they canned were sockeyes. The humpbacks, silvers, and others were thrown back into the sea. 
      This was the start of the bust of the depression, and after the fish business got going, there were two more canneries started in Anacortes, two more in Blaine, and one in Bellingham." [Later there were canneries on other nearby islands.]
Above words by Captain William P. Thornton, June 1958.
Fish and Ships. Andrews, Ralph W. and A.K. Larssen.

Do you know of a photo of the pile-driver belonging to L.D. Hix? We'd be interested for adding to San Juan County maritime archives. 

*What was formerly called HIcks Bay on the south shore of Shaw Island underwent an official spelling correction with the Washington State Board of Geographic Names in 2016. Government charts will adopt the correct spelling of "Hix" for Louis D. Hix and his wife Cynthia Bish Hoffman HIx. 

18 March 2017


Day 39 from One Hundred Days in the San Juans by author, June Burn.
Written on contract for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1946.

"Lopez Sound. Our callers this morning were the Balsleys from Decatur Island, newcomers from Seattle. They had invited us to their beach then had to go off on the ferry today, we were afraid we'd pass them by––as we meant to do. We're sort of getting ahead of ourselves in material and some of the islands will have to wait till next summer to be set down in "story and song."
      But not the Balsleys of Decatur, anyway. Here they are to tell their own story––now that they have the very prettiest place in the islands! You just ought to see it. And if you have the map I told you to get, you will see that they have what looks like a perfect harbor for the summertime. It is that one on the west side facing north inside the peninsula that makes a high protecting bluff around it. We can see their white beach from here.
      The Balsleys have a little resort just in bud. They call it San Elmo for the patron saint of sailors. Their bay is 12 feet deep with a fine bottom for anchorage. They have their own garden and chickens and a cow. 'And I'm just about the best cook you ever saw,' little Mrs. Balsleys says, tempting us down for dinner on a night when they'll be there.
      Decatur Island is an old friend of mine. 
For early days of the Decatur Island Howells, Stewarts
and friends, Mary's award winning history book is in
book stores now. Catch one while you can.
I used to go there to visit the Howells, now of Bellingham, Mrs. Stewart, a Howell, still lives there. William Viereck of Orcas and Bill Reed, the shipbuilder, used to live on Decatur. Davidsons, Wohls, Hansons, live there now. 'They're all fine neighbors,' the new Balsleys say. 'They treat us like old-timers, too now.'
      Decatur is the island that lies below Blakely, hemming in the waters between them and Lopez, to make Lopez Sound. It is nearly as large as Waldron with about 3,000 acres, covering three and a half square miles. It was named by the Wilkes expedition for Stephen Decatur.
      The beaches on the island are practically endless. Long curving, bright beaches that lie at the foot of bluffs, run along the low farmland and swing round the heads of all the bays. Decatur is a lovely island! But it has only one child of school age living there now. The Balsleys and the Stewarts will each take in welfare children to board next winter so as to have a school for that child.
      It is another bright, hot day as we leave Spencer Spit. Just as we set sail for the south, the north wind that has blown all week comes to a sudden stop, swings around to the southwest in fact. We take to the oars. It's hot. We take off our shoes. It's hotter. We get into shorts. It's burning us up. We get back into shoes and all our clothes. The sky is as clear as the water is smooth as the air is still as the islands are silent. The dome of Baker shows across a dip in the fat back of Cypress.
      Slowly Blakely goes astern. Decatur comes abreast and slowly retreats. Little Trump's rocky bumps come nearer and all the time Lopez walks along toward the north on the other side of us.
      It is noon. We'll go ashore on Trump Island and have lunch on that little six foot beach between two rocky bluffs. We have turnip, beet and kohlrabi tops with cheese omelet, potatoes and lettuce. Nuts, crackers, jam, coffee. Nor bird appetites, ours!
      As we leave this miniature bay we see a big crab on the bottom and another. Farrar ties a rag and a lead to a string, lets them down gently in front of the crabs. They reach out their two big front claws, grasp the rag, hang on and are gently lifted over our gunwale into the boat for our supper. Farrar says they must like to chew the rag. Then we catch a rock cod to make up the quantity and row off for Center Island where Mr. Schaldach lives in a big log house overlooking the East and Mt. Baker.
Fararr says if he could live like this all the time, he wouldn't mind dying. You only mind dying when you feel you haven't lived, he says.
      There is a fine madrona grove on Center Island, the stems shining in the going-down sunshine. The trees rise clean out of the ground, no underwood on this side of the island––we go around to the Schaldach's.
     And they are not at home.
      Heigh-ho, off we go, row, row, row, row! On around the wide bay of Decatur. We'll go to International Boy's Camp tonight, then. We'd better not pass it up or we'll be kidnapped again.
      We pass slender little Ram Island that used to belong to Dr. Binyon, and the other little one beside it. He called them Ram and Rum. The sun is fairly bursting its sides shining as we cross Lopez Pass for the headland where the boys' camp is located.
      "If it was like this all the time, you couldn't drag me away from this country," Farrar says, thinking about the times we have wasted somewhere else.
      We round the point into the badly misnamed Mud Bay and come upon white teepees. We're at International Boys' Camp before we know it. A fleet of rowboats and little sailing boats, a flock of little girls and boys in swimming. Why this is a girls' camp, too, and we later learn they are mainly brothers and sisters.
      The camp has lately moved from San Juan Island. Stacks of lumber, timbers, an old buggy, ladders and nameless other things still lie on the spit at the head of the beach. And the big lodge itself is still unfinished. But it is very handsome and unusual. Farrar takes a picture of it before we've said hello to anybody.
      Yonder comes Mr. Henderson. See you tomorrow. June."


03 March 2017

❖ LIGHTHOUSE LADS ❖ 1946 with June Burn

San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Photo by Corbett, undated.
Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.
Day Thirteen of 100 Days in the San Juans 
June Burn. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer July 1946.

Patos Island.
Hazy sun at 9 o'clock on a calm Tuesday morning. I'm sitting alone in the San Juanderer while Farrar goes ashore on Patos to take a picture of the lighthouse and the boys we met there last night.
      On Patos, we found the sweetest graveled beach and sheltered cove and sleeping plateau we've ever had in all our camping years. The beach fell away sharply so that the boat hadn't such an easy chance to go aground as it had on Skipjack last Friday night. Above the beach on a jutting point that overlooked Orcas and Sucia and Waldron we spread the tarp and sleeping bags in deep, soft grass. It rained during the night, pat-pat-pat, right close above our heads on the canvas––a sweet sound when you know that everything is well covered against it.
      As soon as we had anchored, we found the trail up from the beach, around the point to the lighthouse. The San Juanderer looked like a big glaucous-winged gull sitting on the rich green water of Active Cove. The ubiquitous russet-back thrush kept whistling his evening song from the fir and madrona woods behind the shore.
      Scrub salal forms most of the undergrowth of the forest here, with clumps of ocean spray every now and then to light the forest.
      How open and grassy Alden Point where the lighthouse stands! There are two dwellings, several smaller structures, water tanks, the lighthouse at the very end of the point overlooking Boundary Pass, Canadian waters and islands, and facing Saturna Light.
      Instead of the two families we expected to find, four young boys are stationed here. the CO is a 26-year-old Indian boy, William E. Moody, from Tulsa, OK; the youngest, Paul W. Haltkamp, 20, from Stockport, IA; Joseph J. Mattero, from San Francisco. Haltkamp says he has been longest––too long––at this lonely base. He has been here three months.
      The CG cutter comes once a week from Seattle bringing supplies. They are allowed 99 cents per man per day for food but from the look of this list that they sent in last week, I'd say they are out of pocket themselves now and then. Here it is: 2 lbs of cocoa, 25 lbs of sugar, 5 lbs brown sugar, 2 jars berry jam, 7 loaves white bread, 4 lbs butter, 5 gallons fresh milk, 6 dozen eggs, 5 lbs cheese, 10 lbs ice cream mix, 4 lbs hotcake flour, half a case each of peaches, pineapple, peas, canned milk, 10 lbs apples, 5 lbs oranges, 3 lbs grapefruit, 3 heads lettuce, 3 lbs carrots, 5 lbs tomatoes, 5 lbs onions, one cured ham, 5 lbs bacon, 6 lbs round steak, 5 lbs beef roast, 5 lbs hamburger. 
      Each boy cooks for himself, eats when he chooses, for they keep a 24-hour shift at the light, each boy serving six hours on and 12 off. 
      Down at the lighthouse there is a very large––oh, 6-ft high, 8-ft wide, say––double panel of dials, clocks, levers, lights and other mysterious gadgets. But the main business seems to be transacted over the radio telephone. We heard them tune in to that and the results were as funny and unintelligible as the tobacco auctioneer's jargon.
      At the end of the complicated rigmarole we learn that our old friend; Commander Zeusler, now Rear Admiral Zeusler, coast guard commander, 13th Naval District, is on terminal leave and Capt. A.M. Martinson is taking his place for peacetime duty in these waters.
      We thought how strange to get the news of Admiral Zeusler's retirement like this! (Professor Thompson, did you know it? You went to Alaska on what was then Commander Zeusler's ship and here he is an admiral and on terminal leave, that must mean retirement.) Well, well, visit far-away lighthouses and keep up with your neighbors.
See you tomorrow. June.
A post on the author Helene Glidden and the book of her childhood on Patos Island can be seen here.  

01 March 2017


112.9' x 22.8' x 7.3' 

Undated photo from the J.A. Turner Collection

"While Puget Sound history recalls dozens of spectacular steamer races, none could have been more heated that the rivalry between the HYAK and the VERONA about 80 years ago––near the end of the "mosquito fleet" era.
      The sleek HYAK, built at Portland in 1909, was the flagship in the Kitsap County Transportation Co.'s fleet of passenger and freight vessels, that served Bainbridge Island and docks of call beyond––including Poulsbo, settled by immigrant Norwegians in the early 1880s.
      The VERONA, built at Dockton on Maury Island in 1910, was acquired by a Poulsbo cooperative when travelers became dissatisfied with the Kitsap company's schedules and fares. Thus the stage was set for intense competition, and races between the rivals.
      In those days, numerous docks jutted out from shore in all Puget Sound waterways––flag stops, where passengers and freight embarked or disembarked.
      On the Seattle-Poulsbo route, stops were made at such points as Scandia, Keyport, Brownsville, Venice, Enetai, Gibson, Westwood, Crystal Springs, Pleasant Beach, South Beach, Fort Ward, Seabold, Agate Point and Port Madison.
      Especially on Saturdays, trade was brisk––with farmers along the route taking their produce to Seattle for sale in places like the Public Market. And frequently the farmers found time to see a show and do some shopping.
Built 1909 at the Supple Yard, Portland, Or.
134-ft, 195 t.
Triple expansion engine (12,18,32 x 18) with steam
at 225 lbs working pressure and developing 750 HP.
In McCurdy's Marine History, it is said she attained a speed of
c. 20 mph, at times, on her voyage up the coast.

Both HYAK original photos by J.A. Turner
Archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Accordingly, the first steamer out of the Poulsbo overnight stop skimmed off the cream of the trade––except that the VERONA, the "farmers' boat," had a popularity advantage over the big company's HYAK.
      Generally, the VERONA and HYAK left Poulsbo on the same early morning schedule and then raced to see which would get to Scandia first, and so on, from dock to dock.
      Capt. Alf Hostmark skippered the HYAK and Capt. Torger Birkeland was master of the VERONA, at that time. They were friends, yet determined rivals. On at least one occasion the two vessels collided while hustling toward a dock.
      To get maximum speed, safety valves on the steam apparatus were tied or braced down, and once the VERONA's stack got so hot she caught fire. (No serious causalities.)
      On weekends, the two vessels also carried commuters to their summer homes at such places as Crystal Springs and Westwood––and to a dance hall resort at Venice.
      The competition ended in 1923, when the KCTC bought out the VERONA's owners and the latter vessel donned the 'white collar' around her smokestack.
      Soon, though, shovel-nosed automobile ferryboats took over the trade. The building of roads and he automobile doomed the 'mosquito fleet––ending an exciting and picturesque era in Puget Sound transportation."
Above words by Ross Cunningham. Published by The Seattle Times. 25 May 1976.
Below from Steamer's Wake. Faber, Jim. 
"One of the Mosquito Fleet's key roles was that of serving as a farm-to-market highway for settlers. To farm women particularly it was a welcome role, one that introduced a measure of warmth and companionship into an often dreary rural setting. The steamers serving farms on Bainbridge, Vashon and Whidbey Islands and other stops, furnished bright swatches of color on market day in Seattle. Here produce houses, and by 1906 the Pike Street Farmer's Market, provided a bazaar within walking distance of Colman Dock and Pier 3 where most steamers docked. Writes Murray Morgan, co-author of The Pike Place Market:
      When the boat whistled its approach, the farmers or their wives would gather on the dock, bringing chickens dressed and wrapped in cheese cloth; butter molded into rose patterns, wrapped in butterpaper, and packed in wooden boxes; eggs nestled in straw baskets; root vegetables in burlap sacks; milk in galvanized cans; crates of fruit; bundles of rhubarb."

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