"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 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.

24 August 2017


Washington State ferry, Harney Channel,
on approach to Shaw Landing,
San Juan Archipelago, Washington.
Mount Baker shines in the background, dated 21 May 1991.
Click image to enlarge.
photo by Ted Bronstein, A.S.M.P.
for the Washington State Dept of Commerce, Olympia, Washington.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

The above photo shows the route that the well-known author, historian Lucile McDonald would have taken from Anacortes on the mainland to Shaw Island to visit and interview the residents in 1958. Her personal archives were donated to the UW. 
      "Shaw Island in the San Juan Archipelago was one of the few places remaining in the State where a person can answer her own telephone while visiting a neighbor.
      Mrs. Mabel Crawford, the postmistress on the island, said Shaw's crank-type phones, all on one line, are regarded by strangers as curiosities.
      There are approximately 223 phones in service on our cooperative line," Mabel said. 'You crank the right number of short and long rings to call someone. We also have a line to Lopez Island, where the long-distance operator is.'
      The community hall has fallen into disrepair and the schoolhouse serves for important meetings. Yansen's store near the ferry landing at the entrance to Blind Bay is the island gathering place. With armchairs around the stove, it has a sociable air. 
      To date, no resorts have been opened on Shaw. Neck Point Coves, on the west end, is a new summer home development with its own wharf and swimming pool. Miles Tippery of Orcas and Richard Exton of Deer Harbor, the sponsors, moved one of Shaw Island's oldest cabins stick by stick to Orcas Island and set it up near the ferry landing as an office. 
      Some of the ferry runs in the San Juans do not include Shaw unless a flag is hoisted or a red light is lit at the slip.
      Mabel recalled that ferry service to Shaw began in 1930 and that her father, Gene Fowler, was instrumental in having the slip built. Islanders tried to get along with a float as a substitute until a heavy truck turned over on it.  [Lyle KIng's truck]
      The post office formerly was at Griswold, half a mile from the present site. Mail arrived three times weekly and the postmaster rowed out to get it. Passengers also had to be taken by rowboat into the channel, where they hailed the boat.
      Shaw Island's newest enterprise is the San Juan Marina, under construction by A. F. 'Gus' Gratzer, formerly of Tacoma. Two years ago he bought the Fred Hudson farm on Hudson Bay, a short distance east of the ferry landing. 
A. F. 'Gus' Gratzer dock
Harney Channel, San Juan Archipelago, Washington,
dated 29 September 1958. 
The fish tender on the right is the HAZEL ROBB,
commanded by Islander Capt. Clayton Shaw of Broken Point,
heading to Seattle for winter storage after working in AK.
Gratzer and McDonald are standing next to the auto.
An aerial view of the Gratzer dock is included in the
top photo of the State ferry approaching the Shaw landing.
Click to enlarge.
Original photo by Parker McAllister from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Gratzer likes the sheltered bay and clam beds. Steamboats used to stop at Hudson's to load fruit from their large orchard. Gratzer bull-dozed out some of the fruit trees to make space for a marine way and shops that he expects to have in operation by next summer.
      The Ellis house is one of the best-preserved log homes on Shaw. It was erected in 1887 by two single brothers, Thomas and Theodore Tharald, Norwegian sailors. They peeled the timbers and did a ship-shape carpenter job. 
      Hudson, Tift, Oscar Fowler, George Griswold, Sam Gordon, and L.D. Hix were heads of the first permanent families on the island.
      Another early resident was Delbert E. Hoffman, a boat builder, Mabel's maternal grandfather. 
      These settlers really stayed, their descendants intermarried and most of today's [1958] residents can trace their ancestry to Shaw Island's hardy pioneers."
Lucile McDonald. The Seattle Times, 23 November 1958 

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