"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 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.

30 October 2018

❖ Elliott Bay Shrimp Fleet ❖


KAHLENBERG (ex-Navy Patrol craft 1138)
The 50' steamer was built at Mare Island, N.Y., in 1913.
Operated for a time on Puget Sound as a demonstration
boat for Kahlenberg Oil Engines, she was refitted
with a 25 HP steam engine and Scotch boiler.
Capt. France "Franz" Nelson, a former tugboat
master in Alaska purchased the KAHLENBERG to
use as a shrimper at Seattle, with his
wife Elsie, serving as crew, and sometimes son, Bill.
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the Marine Studio, Seattle, WA.
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
The last surviving vessel of a once-numerous Elliott Bay shrimp fishing fleet was Capt. Franz Nelson's KAHLENBERG, a former naval tender assigned to Oriental waters, and with a gun mounted in front of the pilot house. Fishing grounds were the full width of Elliott Bay between the foot of Yesler Way and Smith Cove. The secret of successful shrimp fishing in Elliott Bay's deep waters was to know the locations of not less than six sunken vessels upon which drag nets would snag and tear, also where mounds of earth were deposited off Elliott Avenue during the Denny Regrade operations. 
The dragnet on the stern was 15' W x 25' L and attached to a cable, lifted by a steam winch. The average haul lasted for 30 minutes and covered c. one fourth of a mile or so, depending on the wind and tide.
      A good haul often will yield 30 to 50 pounds of shrimp. But a haul would often lead to mostly rubbish or fish. One that brings up no shrimp; fishermen call that a "skunk" haul.
      The shrimp are cooked in boiling water and live steam within 30 minutes of being caught.
      In more recent history, Advanced Diver Magazine has an interesting report on diving on the bottom of Lake Union searching for historic vessels. One of the two vessels on the bottom of Lake Union that they chose to feature on their website is the wreck of the KAHLENBERG. They have been working with the Department of Natural Resources and the Center for Wooden Boats to explore and document the wrecks that litter the bottom of Lake Union. You can view their findings here.
Some of this text was reported in the Seattle-Times August 1940. 
Gordon Newell, editor. H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Superior Publishing.

24 October 2018


Park Superintendent Carl Stoddard
English Camp Cemetery, undated.
San Juan Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Click image to enlarge.

Photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Courtesy of Washington State Department of Commerce and Economic Development, this photo was processed for the Olympia files. 
      Six British troops and one civilian died during the Border Dispute on San Juan Island, all reported as a result of accidents.

Wood, Charles, age 28. 1841-8 Jan. 1869. Drowned. Stone tablet.
Wensley, James. d. 7 April 1869. drowned. Stone tablet.
Taylor, William, age 34. 1834-26 Jan. 1868. Shot by brother.
Davis, William Private from Devon. 1834-4 Jan. 1863. (accidental drowning.)
Ellis, Thomas Private. 1836-4 Ja. 1863. (Accidental drowning.)
Kiddy, Thomas Private from Suffolk. 1836-4 Jan. 1863 (Accidental drowning.)
Stewart, G.E. Corporal, age 31. 1837-1 June 1865. (wooden cross.)

Resident pioneer on San Juan Island, Jim Crook, claimed he was paid $10 per month by the British government to maintain the English Camp Cemetery.
Since 1966 when the National Park was created, the cemetery has been maintained by the Park personnel. 


19 October 2018


Built of steel at the Moran Bros. Shipyard, Seattle.
631 tons, 165' x 28.5' x 14.9'
Compound engine (23,43) powered by 2 single-end
Scotch boilers at 105 pounds working pressure
and developing 685 HP.
Launched 1903,
one year before the launch of USS NEBRASKA
at Moran Brothers Yard, Seattle.
HEATHER commanded by Captain W.E. Gregory
from 1903 to 1907.
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Lifelong mariner born in Dublin in 1848.
He was in the merchant service for over 20 years
before he came to the Columbia River
on the bark HIGHLAND LIGHT and then 
joined the steamer MANZANITA.
There is more to his long service for 
another post.
Original photo from the S.P.H.S.© 
Astoria, OR. c. 1903. Admiral Gregory's flagship, the HEATHER, along with the MANZANITA and the COLUMBINE are all lined up to their wharves in imposing array. The HEATHER arrived down from Portland last evening and is now regularly in commission. She is the largest lighthouse tender in the United States, and, although not of striking beauty, takes much of the shine off her smaller and older associates. It remains to be seen whether she can keep her nose above water as long as they. The HEATHER has on board two large gas buoys which have just arrived from the east. One of them is to replace the light buoy which went blind some months ago on the Columbia bar. They are each about 40-ft long, being more than half submerged when afloat, and are kept in an upright position by a large iron weight at the lower end. The lantern enclosing the light stands about 15-ft above the water and is protected by iron guards.
      The light is guaranteed to burn continuously for 18 months without being refilled.
      The HEATHER's complement of officers is as follows: 
Captain William E. Gregory; chief officer, E. Hammarstrom; second officer, Gustaf A. Mikander; chief engineer, Harry C. Lord; assistant engineer, Henry E. Wilson. Newspaper publisher unknown. Suspected date of publishing to be 1903.
approaching Destruction Island Lightstation 
on the Washington coast.
dated 1913.
The HEATHER was well known at the Light Stations 
in the Pacific Northwest.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Capt. W.E. Gregory left the HEATHER
to command the U.S.L.H.T. ARMERIA.
Click image to enlarge.
This card is signed by Capt. Gregory
who mailed it home to Astoria in 1908.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1907: Capt. W.E. Gregory left the HEATHER to command the ARMERIA. 
Inscribed as participating in the 
The fifteenth annual regatta, Astoria, OR.
Admiral and staff;

Capt. W.E. Gregory is on deck in the black hat.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

1940: HEATHER was decommissioned and replaced by the new 178-ft lighthouse tender FIR.
1948: Following wartime Army service as FS-534 was sold as surplus to J.P. Angel and Matt Ryan of Seattle, who resold her to Capt. Martin Gagino and  Victor H. Hammond, British subjects.
      In an R.H. Calkins Marine News column (undated) here is more on the next chapter of HEATHER and her 9,000-mile trip casting off from Seattle, WA.
      "The adventurous captain and crew of the 506-ton former US Lighthouse tender have arrived at Singapore. The HEATHER, piloted by Capt. Martin Gagino, completed the voyage with an unusual crew aboard:
      A honeymooning couple, their bridesmaid, and their amah, who signed on as ships laundress.
      Captain Gagino, who left Seattle last March, after buying the ship, had his 23-year-old son, Desmond, along as mate.
      They all reached Hongkong after 30 days. At Hongkong, the skipper's newly-married daughter, Cora, and her husband, Stephen L. Velge, went aboard with a bridesmaid, Yvonne D'Almedia, and the amah. Mrs. Velge became stewardess, Velge 'junior officer.'
      They sailed to Cebu with cargo, returned to Hongkong, and thence to Singapore.
      Gagino was a War Shipping Administration master mariner during the war. Singapore is Gagino's home. He will sail between that port and the Dutch East Indies.
      The HEATHER, launched at the Moran Shipyards in Seattle, was decommissioned after nearly 30 years service as a lighthouse tender and sold in this port." 

12 October 2018


Almost gone.
She had spent 20 years moored as a breakwater at
Shilshole Bay, Seattle, WA.
and then here came the firemen.
Photo with a back stamp of 25 Jan. 1964
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
1918: Launched as ANNETTE ROLPH at Rolph, CA. Early in 1925 when the Rolph Steamship Co began operations in the coastwise trade between Portland and San Francisco it was ANNETTE who made the initial voyage. In 1936 her name was ARTHUR J. BALDWIN but when she was taken over by Alaska Steam her name was changed to BERING.
1942: "Another of the surviving wooden vessels of the WWI period was found to be badly strained following a stranding in SE AK waters. She rested on the beach for several months before she was refloated and with constant pumping, she was kept afloat while she was towed to Seattle. Upon her arrival, she was condemned and sold for $1 to the Tregonning Boat Co who secured her as a breakwater for a proposed small boat mooring at the entrance to the Lake Washington Ship Canal. After some years the vessel was beached near the canal entrance. 
      The War Shipping Administration that had been operating the BERING, reimbursed the owners in the amount of $100,000. "
H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Gordon Newell, editor.

08 October 2018


  Steamer VIRGINIA V
on her first trip to Seattle 1922.
Photo from the Williamson Collection on a promotional 
postcard published by the Steamer VIRGINIA V Foundation.
From the Clinton Betz Collection,
Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The steamer VIRGINIA V must rank among the more famous Puget Sound steamboats of all time. Her record of dependability, owing to the clock-like regularity she maintained on the Seattle and Tacoma route, seven days a week for 16 years; compares favorably with the records of such steamers as the FLYER and the TACOMA. Finally, as the last of the Puget Sound steamboats, she is in a class with the BEAVER, which was the first.
      Capt. N. G. Christensen, president of the West Pass Transportation Co, had named all of his vessels VIRGINIA simply because it was the name of the craft with which he founded the business. In discussing these steamers, he usually referred to them by their numbers, such as the THREE, the FOUR, or the FIVE. Thus, the "V" was a Roman numeral, not an initial.
      While planning construction of the FIVE, Capt Christensen was influenced by the design of Capt John Manson's VASHON II. Many features of that steamer appealed to him, but he could not forget an earlier vessel constructed for his company. A bit nostalgically, perhaps, he decided to have the hull patterned after that of the VIRGINIA II, a much smaller, but well-designed craft. The upper structure would be a slightly larger version of the VASHON II. 
      The builder he chose was Matt Anderson, who lived at Maplewood, just across the West Pass from Christensen's home at Lisabeula. Now in his seventies, Matt Anderson had completed a career in shipbuilding and seafaring before he moved out on the West Pass. He obtained the plans for the VASHON II and VIRGINIA II hulls, and from these began lofting the VIRGINIA V hull in his small yard at Maplewood. The timbers, meanwhile, were delivered to Maplewood by the VIRGINIA III.
      As Matt Anderson studied the VASHON II frames, however, he often remarked, 'I think I'll use a bigger timber here."
      In fact, he ordered bigger timbers so often a deckhand on the THREE, Henry Larson, began calling him "Big Timber" Anderson. The durability of the VIRGINIA V hull, though, has proven the soundness of his judgment.
      Henry Larson, incidentally, figures in some of the better VIRGINIA III livestock stories. Freight on the West Pass consisted of everything from household furnishing to hay, grain, poultry, and farm annals. Henry, having grown up on a ranch at Lisabeula, was considered one of the more knowledgeable members of the crew, where livestock was concerned. To be sure, he was well informed in all matters pertaining to cargo, but he was especially handy to have aboard when a cow needed to be milked.
      As might be expected, Puget Sound steamers were occasionally called on to transport bulls, as well as other farm animals; and the annals of that era are filled with references to these encounters. Invariably, the bulls came aboard with good references. All were described as extremely gentle bulls, but all, it seemed, became ungentlemanly under the influence of salt air.
(launched as TYPHOON in 1910)

Here she is at Joseph Floyd's Landing.
In 1914 she was taken over by West Pass Transportation, 
completely remodeled, emerging as VIRGINIA III. 
One of her masters was Capt. J.J. Macmillan (d. 1935.)
Original photo from the archives of Saltwater People Historical Society©

      In one instance, a rancher on the West Pass maneuvered a young bull onto a wooden base, then managed to build a crate around him. This unorthodox contrivance was wheeled to the steamer landing, and at low tide was slid onto the top deck of the VIRGINIA III. All would have gone well enough, perhaps, if the bull hadn't considered it a personal affront every time the gangplank was dragged by his cage. At last, Henry Larson, to show his disdain, no doubt, for a bull in a packing case, hauled off and kicked the crate. The response was instantaneous. The crate literally exploded, and out of the spray of kindling charged the bull. Henry headed aft at full speed, with the bull only a step behind. When he reached the stern, Henry made a U-turn and started up the starboard side. The bull, unable to manage the sharp turn on a wet deck, lost his footing, plunged off the stern, and did a high dive into the Sound.
       Retrieving a chastened bull, and delivering him, sans crate, but still intact, made for a normal day on the West Pass.
      Those awaiting the launching of the VIRGINIA V, on 9 March 1922, were greeted by a typical March dawn. The sky was grey, and a light drizzle of rain was falling. The shipways were adjacent to the Maplewood wharf, and the launching was scheduled for 7 A.M., to coincide with the arrival of the VIRGINIA III on her regular morning trip from Tacoma. Some observers looked upon the rain as a bad omen and predicted that the launching would be postponed. At the moment the bow of the VIRGINIA III touched the wharf, however, there was a groaning of timbers, and the hull of the VIRGINIA V slipped, stern first, down the ways.

undated photo by James A. Turner.
Click to enlarge.
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
       The whistle of the THREE sounded in a long, piercing salute that echoed and re-echoed along the high bluffs of the West Pass; as the VIRGINIA V dipped lightly into Puget Sound, and backed easily over the calm water. She came to anchor a short distance north of the Maplewood dock, and the echoes of the familiar whistle died away. It was appropriate that it should have been heard at that moment, for it was the whistle that the VIRGINIA V would carry during all her years on the West Pass."
The Sound and the Mountain. Carey, Roland. Alderbrook Publishing. 1970
Mr. Carey has written more for another day.

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