"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.

19 October 2017

❖ TUG HENRY FOSS (1900-1959) ❖ Seattle to Saltspring Island

ON 13610
Low res scan of an Official Photograph 
dated 16 June 1943
Click image to enlarge. 

From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The Klondike strike pulled the entire Northwest out of the doldrums following the 1893 hard times––it was not referred to as a depression in those days. But of more immediate interest to the five water girt counties bordering on the Straits and the Gulf of Georgia, was the arrival at Fairhaven of Roland Onffroy in 1897. Onffroy, a professional promoter, scented the latent possibilities of the salmon canning industry. Hieing back to Chicago he got the interest of big figures in the meat packing trade. The next year his newly formed Franco-American Packing Co. became the cornerstone of the giant Pacific-American Fisheries Co which took over all available trap sites at heretofore unheard of prices.
      D'ye mind the original P.A.F. fleet, the Eclipse, Michigan, Susie, Lady Agnes, Victor, Little Giant, and the twin screw Ernest A. Hamill? the latter was a light draft iron tug intended for the Yukon River under the command of John "Crazy" Anderson and left a wide swath of damage in her clumsy wake. In addition, the Elk, Union, and Beaver were chartered. Onffroy, ever the one to demand the best in floating equipment, commissioned H.B. Kirby to build the finest pair of tugs ever to be set afloat for cannery tender duty. Bearing the name of Chicago stockholders, they were launched at Ballard in 1900 as the Charles Counselman and the John Cudahy. The unlamented Hamill was sold to Spreckles and spent many years on San Francisco Bay as the Crolona. But the new craft, while 16-ft shorter and full powered with a compound engine and 13 and 28-inch bore by 24-inch stroke, were still too bulky for effective trap brailing. Carrying a crew of thirteen, the Cudahy went into commission with Edward Masny, master.
      Three years service convinced the management that still smaller craft were better suited to their needs and the splendid tugs were sold––the Counselman to Honolulu and the Cudahy to the Grays Harbor Stevedoring Co for bar work on that Harbor.
      Most noted of the Cudahy's masters was "Draw Bucket" Johnson, who for a long term of years escorted sail and steam lumber carriers over Willapa and Grays Harbor Bars. One of her few appearances on the Sound was in 1907 when she and the Daring brought the dismasted and water-logged square rigger William H. Smith to Seattle.
      When Merrill & Ring purchased the boat for log towing on the Straits. Captains, Wm. Spooner and Miles Bolenbaugh handled her in this trade. She went back to her former owners in 1920 and in addition to her house forward was cut down to the former dimensions. Allman-Hubbs Co., of Hoquiam, succeeded to ownership and in the mid-30s laid the venerable Cudahy aside in Hoquiam River boneyard. It looked like finis for the faithful ship, but the Foss Co of Tacoma, who has an eye for sound design and honest construction, took over in 1943 and rebuilt her at their own yards. [photo above dated 1943.]
      Henry Foss was the name give the powerful re-born Cudahy, a 750-HP Enterprise diesel, supercharged to provide an additional 250-HP, furnishing the push. Taken into government war duty almost before the paint was dry, the Henry Foss was sent to the Aleutians. One of the first to be released, the tug has since operated from Port Angeles. Scutt* has been unable to credit the long list of engineers who have faded from memory. Even the present competent occupant of the berth who sails with Capt. Arnold Tweter must go unrecorded."
Above text by Osborn, Stewart C. for Pacific Motor Boat. September 1946.

Below a short bio on the above author from Pacific Tugboats. Newell, Gordon and Joe Williamson. Superior Publishing. 1957.
"Stewart C. Osborn of Port Orchard, WA, wrote for Pacific Motorboat magazine for many years under the pen name "Scuttlebutt Pete." Although terribly crippled by arthritis, 'Old Scut' knew the NW workboat fleet and the men who operate it because the tugboat men were his friends. He couldn't go to them, so they brought the news to him. He wrote it up in a salty, sunny style that was all his own. In the early 1950s, the "Piling Busters" tugboat men threw a party for Scut. They brought him a short-wave radio and after that he got his news hot off the airwaves, listening to the news and gossip of the 'tugboat band.'
      In April 1954, Pacific Motorboat reported, "Aye lads, Ol' Scut passed on a bit of a tide ago." Thet's the way Stewart Osborn would have written it. He was mourned by tugboat men from Cape Blanco to Nome."

Launched 1900
Designed by L.H. Coolidge
Built by E.H. McAllister in the record time of six months,
for Pacific American Fisheries of Bellingham, WA.
Power plant: 450-HP Vulcan steam engine.
Primary service, Puget Sound. 
1905: Pacific American Fisheries sold her to Grays Harbor Stevedoring Co of Aberdeen.
1919: Sold to Merrill & Ring Logging Co for towing log rafts from the Pysht River log dump on the Straits to Port Angeles.
1922: CUDAHY bought by Allman Hubble Tug Co of Hoquiam.
1930: (mid): She was sold to Knappton Towboat Co for general towing on the Columbia R. 
1941: Foss Co purchased the boat on 19 June 1941 and towed her to the Foss Shipyard in Tacoma where she underwent one year of repair and received a 1,000-HP Enterprise diesel. 
1942: On 26 May the pride of the Foss yard was christened HENRY FOSS, shortly before Henry Foss joined the navy. Capt. Walt Stark in command for two week's running before she was requisitioned for military duty in WW II and assigned to the US Army Engineers. She served them for 18 months and then returned to Foss in good condition.
1944: In September there was a tragic accident with the loss of Capt. Norm Carlsen, and the Mate Mr. Talbert at Port Towsend, WA. 
1959: Friday 13 Feb. In command of Capt. Warren Waterman the HENRY came to a "grinding and abrupt stop on a rock near Beaver Point on Saltspring Island. There was a 50-knot gale blowing and the seas extremely rough. The HENRY FOSS overturned and sank in 150-ft of water, throwing all seven men into the cold and rough water of Swanson Channel." Two men were pulled from the water. The Chief Engineer survived the exposure but deckhand Richard Lothian died of exposure after reaching the hospital. The loss of the HENRY's six men was the most painful calamity in the Foss' long history of tug boating; the tug was not salvaged.
Capt. Warren Waterman
Chief Mate Lawrence Berg
Assistant Engineer, Martin Gullstein
Deckhand, Oswald H. Sorenson
Cook, Erick W. Danielson.
Richard Lothian
Notes in the timeline section of this essay are courtesy of Michael Skalley's Foss; Ninety Years of Towboating. Superior Publishing. 1981. Saltwater People Historical Society collection.


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