"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

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 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.

28 February 2019

❖ Square-Rigger with 42,000 Square Feet of Canvas❖

Square-rigger KURT
Built in 1904, Glasgow, Scotland.
This big beautiful vessel has seating on deck to host
guests for the annual Astoria Regatta
in this year of 1915.
Click image to enlarge and see all the people!
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Log©

Mrs. H. W. McCurdy with a scale model,

part of a marine exhibit made by Dr. George E. Thompson.
The small label says: "This model of the MOSHULU
was made from the original blueprints and rigging plans
while she was still in American water. The model design
was carefully checked and approved by 
Capt. P. A. McDonald,
who was her last captain under the US flag."
1943 photo.
Click image to enlarge.
Photographer unknown.
Archives of the Saltwater People Log©

"Many years back while at Port Angeles, WA., when his ship was loading lumber, Captain P. J. R. Mathieson, master of the MOSHULU, described her as a 'whale of a vessel' with beautiful lines, a clipper bow, and a fine run aft. He further described her as very lofty, with long yards, and tall masts; measuring 335-ft in length with a beam of 47-ft and a 26.6-ft depth. Each of her four masts measured 165-ft from deck to trucks and the three lower yards were each 96-ft long. Two-thirds of her 1,230 blocks were of steel, and the standing and running rigging, nearly all steel wire line measured no less than 21 miles. The square sails carried on the yards on each of the masts were 1 course, 2 topsails, 2 topgallant sails, and staysails between the masts, 1 foretopmast staysail, and four jibs. She had a total of 35 sails which spread over 42,000 square feet of canvas and was fitted with a donkey boiler and engine used for working the cargo, shifting the vessel's berth and working the windlass through a wireline messenger. She had six powerful hand winches for hoisting the three upper topsails and three upper topgallant yards; six brace winches for canting the yards, and six capstans for heaving in on the sheets of the courses as well as one capstan for turning the windlass by manpower.

      The MOSHULU, according to Mathieson, was the ultimate in big steel square-riggers."
Jim Gibbs, Pacific Square-Riggers (New York: Bonanza Books, 1977), 149.

23 February 2019


Sternwheeler ELWOOD
Built in Portland, OR., for service on the
Willamette River in 1891. Her first owners
were Jason Eldridge and brothers Guy, Charles,
and George Abernathy of Champoeg, OR.
Later she paddled on the
 Lewis River in WA, the Stikine River in BC,
and Puget Sound.
154' x 46.4'
510 g.t. 420 N.t.
It was said she was built to run on a heavy dew.

She was out of service in 1920.
Vintage, original photo from the archives of the 
Saltwater People Historical Society©
“Only two years old, the little sternwheel steamer ELWOOD groped her way up the Willamette River toward Portland’s Madison Street bridge through blanketing river fog. In the wheelhouse, the pilot shivered against the November morning’s frost.  He pulled the whistle cord, a long and three shorts for the draw span, and rang the engineer to stop the engines. The bridge tender acknowledged and swung shut the bridge gates; the span slowly creaked open to pass the ELWOOD through. 
      At the throttle of the town-bound Hawthorne trolley 'INEZ,' the motorman eased back a few notches to check the speed picked up on the downgrade to the bridge. As he peered through the fog, he saw the barrier and the open draw. He pushed the control lever to full off and wound on the hand brake to stop the car. The wheels locked, then slid like sled runners on the frosty rails.
      The barrier’s wood snapped into slivers; for an instant of time the car hung on the edge, then it slipped slowly over into the river. It barely missed the steamer.
      There was nothing the pilot, Capt. J.L. Smith could do as the ELWOOD drifted over the circle of bubbles where the car had been. He couldn’t start his engines. The paddle wheel would strike survivors struggling in the water. He could only wait until he was clear of the bridge to turn back and help. Rowboats were there by then, and twenty who struggled free of the car were pulled into them and onto the ELWOOD. Eight did not make it.
      The ELWOOD was built in 1891 for the Oregon Railway and Navigation Co.,  for the Portland-Oregon City shuttle run. She was of light draft to pass the rapids on the mouth of the Clackamas River and, with her younger sister boat the ELMORE.
      Competition must have been unprofitable, for in 1894 she was sold to the Lewis River Transportation Co and put into service on the Lewis River-Lake River route. In 1903 she was running for new owners between Seattle and Tacoma. There the ELWOOD’s history ends.”

Other officers and crew:
Capt. H.H. McDonald, Capt. James D. Miller (d. 1914,) Capt. R. Young.
Source: Fritz Timmen. Blow for the Landing. Caldwell, ID. Caxton Printers, Ltd. 1973.
Gordon Newell, editor. H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Superior. 1965. 

17 February 2019


Overboard with the contraband.
Illustration from Calkins' HIGH TIDE.
"From the day he stepped off a Northern Pacific train at King Street Station in 1909, Mr. R. H. 'Skipper' Calkins kept the public posted on some of the drama and tragedy happening on the waterfront, as a police reporter, a city hall reporter, and a courthouse reporter and later covering the maritime news.  In his words --
      "The white-winged sailing ships of the Northwestern Fisheries Co were loading for the Alaska canneries. The HUMBOLDT was at Pier 7, that famous wharf where the gold ship PORTLAND startled the world by dumping a ton of Klondyke gold. 
arriving Seattle, WA., from the North, 1907.

      As I headed for the waterfront, I set a course down Second Avenue. At the New York Block, I entered the offices of the Humboldt Steamship Co. Behind the counter were Max Kalish and Floyd Bush, who, with their lone wooden vessel, which later became famous as the Klondyke gold ship, were meeting the competition of rich and powerful companies. I introduced myself and received my first story as a marine editor––the passenger list of the HUMBOLDT. I had begun a career which served me through the shifting scenes of port development, the organization of new shipping companies and the expansion of Seattle into a world port with ship lines operating to the seven seas. 
      When a baby swallowed a button, it was first-page news. Quite often during the racing season, the entire marine report was thrown out and the space used for the Longacres results. On Sundays, the marine department was buried behind ten pages of classified advertising. The editors evidently believed the harbor was only useful as a place to hold salmon derbies. 
      When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, a shroud of censorship was placed over marine news by the Army and the Navy, and it looked as if marine editors were to be as extinct as the dodo. However, as America moved into the war with every ounce of her energy, the shipping industry became of vast importance. 
      On 25 Sept 1945, a typical wartime day, there were 84 vessels on Puget Sound, according to the daily vessel-movement report of the 13th Naval District.
      These are only a few of the storms I weathered as I kept uppermost in my mind the belief that the waterfront, with ships plying to nearly every part of the world, brings new money to Seattle, provides employment to large numbers of men and gives the city an international prestige that only the sea can bestow. Thus I, a former Ohio newspaperman, have given my best efforts to make Seattle sea-minded and to make her realize the importance of world commerce to the prosperity of her citizens."

      And here is a little more about the enhanced prosperity of a citizen who settled early to raise his family on the small island of Shaw in the San Juan Archipelago, not far from Seattle. A judge at the federal court was waiting––
"Bizarre attempts to smuggle opium, Chinese, and wool, into the US and how Puget Sound virtually was made narcotic proof by two government officers many years ago make up one of the most colorful stories in Pacific Northwest shipping. 
       It was on 13 May 1905 that the government carried into execution long-studied plans to break up the smuggling of wool from Canada to Puget Sound, which was assuming major proportions.
      Wool was 22 cents a pound higher in the US than in Canada and successful smugglers reaped a big profit.
Map of the San Juan Islands
from the Souvenir Year Book
published by San Juan County
Commercial Club,
Friday Harbor, WA., 1930.
Click image to view
South Pender Island, BC.

      Customs Inspectors Ballanger and F. C. Dean left Port Townsend in an open boat and cruised along the San Juan Islands in the guise of seal hunters. Dean had been a seal hunter before joining the customs service and knew the captains of the boats in this industry of other days. Ballanger also was valuable to the government as he was reared on a farm, knew wool, and could shear a sheep.
      The two inspectors drifted in their boat off Port Townsend until after dark and then headed for Canada.
      The boat had two pair of oars and carried a sail, and although the progress was slow, she was able to reach Sydney, Vancouver Island, BC.
      Visting all of the islands, in the vicinity of Sydney and several sheep ranches, the inspectors told the farmers they were on a vacation, seeing the country and doing a little sealing. In a short time, they had visited all of the ranches suspected of being operated by wool smugglers.
      Their pockets were full of wooden pins used in securing meat to form and while the ranchers, who were shearing sheep, were not looking, the inspectors placed them in the fleece.

Alfred Burke
Early Danish American homesteader
photographed on Shaw Island, WA.
The widowed man raised his children,
proved up for a federal patent deed, and
was appointed by the state superintendent
to the first board of directors
for the Shaw Island School, District No. 10,
established in 1887 (still operating.)
A good neighbor, Hans Christensen Lee, testified
in court that Mr. Burke was "law-abiding."
Scan of an original from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society© 

  Ballanger and Dean became acquainted with a man by the name of Alfred Burke. They found him loading wool at South Pender Island, BC,  and followed him.
Steamboat landing, store, post office, warehouse 
Orcas Island, WA.
Location of the sacks of smuggled wool from BC.
Click image to enlarge.
A scan of an original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
He crossed over to Orcas Island, WA., at night. There they found a large quantity of wool in a barn [reported to be 1,000 pounds.] It contained the skewers they had placed in the fleece. The inspectors called Rear Admiral W.H. Munter, USCG, and he went to Orcas Island in the little CG cutter ARCATA. (She was decommissioned in 1936.)

On right: US Revenue Cutter
Scan of an original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historial Society©

      The ARCATA loaded the huge sacks of wool, which measured about 7-ft in length and three feet in diameter. There was so much wool on the deck of the ARCATA that it reached almost to the smokestack. The wool was landed in Port  Townsend, where it was sold at a government auction.
      Burke was arrested and tried in Seattle on a charge of smuggling, but the judge ruled he was not really seen crossing the border with the wool and he was found not guilty because of insufficient evidence.
      There were the days of "Pig Iron" Kelly and Larry Kelly, notorious opium smugglers when it was lawful to import the drug if the duty of $12 a pound was paid.
      There was an opium plant in Victoria, known as the Ly Yuen factory and one in Vancouver, known as the Ty Yuen factory. Crude opium from India and China was cooked and made into round chunks as big as a bowling ball. The opium, the gum, and the sap of the poppy were put into a copper pan over a charcoal fire. As it cooked, it was stirred and skimmed by the Chinese.
      Big traffic in opium developed. Firemen on ships had pockets in the back of their vests in which they carried the opium. They wore large box-hanging coats to conceal the drug and carried between ten and twelve cans. The smugglers, obtaining the opium in BC, made about $5 a pound by avoiding the duty.
      Then came the embargo against opium and the drug reached the coast on ships from the Orient. The Coast Guard began trailing vessels arriving from China and India as they came up the Sound.
      Smugglers of Chinese did not stop at anything if they believed they were trapped. They threw the Chinese overboard when they saw a CG cutter approaching. Those who got through landed on a lonely beach and walked until the boat operator met a confederate.
      Smugglers usually received from $100 to $500 a head for the successful delivery of Chinese in the US.
      Retiring from the Coast Guard, Admiral Munter 'dropped anchor' here and made his home in Seattle. During his long tour of duty, Admiral Munter served 34 years in ships of the old Revenue Cutter Service and the Coast Guard. He was a lieutenant in the cutter GRANT on Puget Sound during the winter of 1902 and 1903, made cruises in the cutter MANNING to the Bering and Honolulu, and in 1925, visited Seattle as a member of a Coast Guard board. He served nearly 45 years of Coast Guard service.
      Ballanger retired in 1946, after 45 years in the US Customs Service."

Sources: R.H. "Skipper" Calkins, High Tide. Seattle: Marine Digest Publishing Co., Inc., 1952) 356./Out of print.
US Federal Court records. Alfred Burke. From the National Archives Record Administration, Seattle, WA.

09 February 2019


Capt. Harry W. Crosby
He came from Minnesota to Puget Sound in 1888.
HWC bought his first schooner HARRY in 1892.
He was especially proud of commanding the
KAILUA and the LANAKAI to the south seas.
This photo dated October 1937.
The well-known mariner passed away in 1953
at age 75 years.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
by Robert C. Leithead for The Sea Chest, September 1978. 
Membership journal of the Puget Sound Maritime. 
Photographs from S.P.H.S.©
"Captain Harry William Crosby was a man of many talents. Tugboat man, steamboat man, Alaska cannery man, salvage expert, property owner, investor, capitalist, his restless spirit always was challenged to turn a profit. Not one to sit back and wait for events to develop, his entry into the exploding auto ferry business on Puget Sound in the early 1920s directed the course of many routes that exist to this day.
      Even in 1922, American motorists had no easy way to get over to Victoria and Vancouver Island with their cars. It was either the SOL DUC across the Strait of Juan de Fuca or the Canadian Pacific from Seattle or Nanaimo, a dubious choice in either case. A few small cars could be accommodated, but often could be loaded aboard only by lowering the top, removing the windshield and, in extreme cases, letting air out of the tires in order to squeeze through the side port of the vessel.
      Crosby proposed a realistic approach. Why not operate out of Anacortes [Fidalgo Island, WA.] through the scenic San Juan Islands to Sidney, just 18 miles north of Victoria? He enlisted Anacortes and Victoria businessmen for support and publicity. Meanwhile, shopping about Puget Sound ports, he came upon the unsuccessful former kelp harvester HARVESTER KING, only four years old and laid up in Everett due to financial difficulties. Never one to overspend, for $12,000 he was able to secure the 96-ft long craft, essentially a power scow with square bow and stern. A minimum of alteration took place. When ready, the main deck forward was left entirely open except for a four-foot high bulwark on each side to close in the auto area––a space which could handle 9 or 10 cars in three lanes. Cars were loaded and unloaded over the bow only, necessitating backing off at the end of the run. A cabin enclosed the 100 H.P. Fairbanks-Morse "CO" engine, which was placed well aft and closed off the stern. Above this on the second deck was the passenger cabin and forward was a raised wheelhouse. To completely identify this strange craft, on the outside of each bulwark 3-ft high letters proclaimed: "VICTORIA, ANACORTES FERRY." The sign extended about 3/4 the length of the vessel.

Sternwheeler GLEANER
422 G.t. 408 N. t.
144.3' x 39.5' x 5.7'
Data from Merchant Vessels of the US 1935.
Click image to enlarge.

Original photo by James A. Turner from
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      To round out the new service the 140-ft sternwheel steamboat GLEANER was chartered from J.H. Cayne and Associates. She was taken to Todd Dry Dock to have her bow at main-deck level built out and rounded so that she could land at the Anacortes and Sidney ships. About 25 cars could be handled on and off the newly shaped bow. For landings at regular steamboat docks, she would use her freight elevator, installed two years earlier, to side-load cars.
      Preparations were made for the inaugural trip on 26 April 1922, with Chamber of Commerce delegates from Seattle and Anacortes participating. It was planned that HARVESTER KING would make the first trip from Anacortes but she was late arriving from Seattle so the GLEANER was substituted. What had advertised originally as a three-hour crossing was later modified to require less than five hours. A fare of $4, one-way, and $6, round trip was charged for cars under 3,000 pounds weight. The passengers paid $1. each way. The run was an immediate success; in June alone 600 cars and 3000 passengers were carried. GLEANER's charter was terminated in September, after which HARVESTER KING carried on alone for another month with her single daily round trip until the service was terminated for the winter.

Original photo date stamped 8 July 1923
Click to enlarge this great image.
Saltwater People Historical Society©
It was obvious that much better service would be required the next summer. Puget Sound Navigation Co decided at this time to convert two of their steamboats, CITY OF ANGELES and PUGET, into auto ferries. The former was immediately chartered by Harry Crosby for the Sidney run. 
      A vast improvement over the previous summer, this 125-ft twin screw steamer could carry 40 cars on two decks, using an elevator to raise and lower cars to and from the upper deck. Not a 'drive-through' ferry, turntables were provided on both decks to speed the handling of cars. Captain Louis Van Bogaert took the CITY OF ANGELES up from Seattle and stayed with the vessel as the PSN rep. An excursion was made out of Anacortes on May 8 and two days later, the steam ferry took up her regular schedule of one daily round trip. Stops were made each way on the three-hour crossing at Orcas and Roche Harbor.
Capt. Ole Tangeraas 
In Harney Channel, bypassing the flag stop of
Shaw Island Landing, Harney Channel, 1923.
from the archives of the Saltwater People Log©
      It soon developed that a second vessel was needed to augment the service, so Harry Crosby shopped around for a suitable running mate to the CITY. He joined with Roy W. Crosby (no relation) and bought the former Port of Seattle ferry ROBERT BRIDGES at public auction. 
Obstruction Pass, Orcas Island, WA.
A few years later when Capt. Oldow and 3 crew had her 
on a run to Chuckanut, Bellingham, WA.
Photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

This craft had been a dismal failure on the West Seattle run due to a completely unreliable semi-diesel engine and was secured at a very low price. A $38,000 rebuilding job at Ballard Marine Railway altered her into a 28-car, 400-passenger auto ferry. Originally a double-ender, she now became a single-ender with a new 200 H.P. Fairbanks-Morse semi-diesel engine driving a propeller at one end only. The auto deck was rebuilt with Australian hardwood, which could serve as a dance floor as well. 
      Renamed MOUNT VERNON, the initial trip was made 30 July, with 120 Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce members aboard. Both CITY OF ANGELES and MOUNT VERNON were emblazoned with large signs, 'VICTORIA-ANACORTES FERRY,' painted on their sides.
      A double daily round trip schedule was set up similar to the previous year. Patronage increased by leaps and bounds. Altogether, the two ferries had carried 5,200 cars and over 19,800 passengers for the year. During the summer a rate war developed between the Crosby ferries and three small passenger boats operating between Anacortes and the Islands. The ALVERENE (W.H. Kasch Nav. Co.,) the SAN JUAN II (San Juan Transport. Co,) and the SPEEDER (Speed Service Transport Co.) were all charging higher fares at the start of the season and had to cut their rates to match Crosby's. At this point Puget Sound Nav. Co decided to buy the run, including the MOUNT VERNON, and carry on the rate war themselves. And so Harry Crosby retired from auto ferrying that fall.
L: "Ellen & Francis on ferry ELK, 1 July 1923."
Center: "Ferry ELK leaving Longbranch
on the 3:30 trip, 18 March 1923." 
R: "on ferry ELK to Longbranch, WA.
 18 Mar. 1923."
Click image to enlarge.
Original photos from the archives of the 
Saltwater People Historical Society©

He was not idle long. We next hear of him at Tacoma, where he had purchased the little 66-ft ferry ELK to start a new run between Old Town, Tacoma, and the head of the bay at Gig Harbor on 2 May 1924. ELK had been built in 1921 from what had been laid down like a fishing boat at the Skansie Shipyard in Gig Hbr. She could carry 10-12 cars and had been operating on the Point Defiance-Gig Hbr route under lease from Pierce County. Later, still owned by Skansie, she had inaugurated the Steilacoom-Anderson Island-Long Branch run until replaced by the new CITY OF STEILACOOM in the spring of 1924.

original photo from the Saltwater People Log©
      The year before, Sound Ferry Lines (Joyce Bros.) had started a cross-Sound run from Edmonds to Kingston and now Ballard was interested in establishing their own route to the Olympic Peninsula. Crosby was contacted and with the ELK not faring too well at Tacoma, he decided to switch operations to Ballard. The landing slip was at the Ballard Dock. On each trip, the ferry had to pass through the Lake Washington locks to reach Puget Sound, then cross over to Kingston. A four-round trip daily run went into operation in June and lasted until fall. This run might be considered the forerunner of the Ballard-Snohomish ferry, which started in the fall of 1928, or the Ballard-Ludlow ferry the following spring. But the crossing time required by the ELK turned out to be a handicap. Crosby could not see a very rosy future for the run and it was not resumed the following year. The later Ballard ferries berthed at a new slip, located just outside the locks. 
      That winter, Capt. Crosby came up with a daring plan. He envisioned a really short crossing to the Olympic Peninsula: Alki Point to Manchester. He joined with Roy Crosby again and with others to incorporate as the Crosby Direct Line Ferries, capitalized at $175,000. Ferry slips were built at Alki and Manchester and a 65-car ferry was ordered from Marine Const. Co., on the Duwamish River.


      Anticipating heavy patronage ELK was lengthened 38-ft and repowered with a 150-H.P. Fairbanks-Morse 'CO' engine. She received a new name, AIRLINE, and made her inaugural run for 'Crosby Direct Line Ferries' 12 April with the usual attendance of commercial club members. The auto capacity had been doubled by the lengthening and was such a popular new service that Crosby secured the 18-car ferry GLORIA of Tacoma to help out with the cars on weekends. Built as the passenger steamer FLORENCE K, she had been converted into an auto ferry two years before. Still powered by a steam engine, Crosby renamed her BEELINE.
      There was so much competition on the Navy Yard Route and strong protests by Kitsap County Transportation Co and Crosby to the State Department of Public Works. Finally the Navy Yard Route's parent company, Puget Sound Nav. Co consolidated with Crosby Direct Line Ferries early in 1926. PSN continued to operate until the Alki slip was washed out in Jan. 1936. It was not rebuilt and thereafter the Manchester ferry ran directly to downtown Seattle. Crosby Direct Line Ferries meanwhile had been disincorporated in 1928.
      This ended Captain Crosby's participation with ferries in Puget Sound. In a span of only four years, he bought four vessels, chartered two, built one, and stirred up two rate wars.
 Ferry route in the San Juan Archipelago
Photo by Webber
Click to enlarge

from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society© 

02 February 2019


A fraction of the Capt. Dorr Tozier collection.
Courtesy of the WA. State Historical Society Museum
Tacoma, WA.

Part One of this important historical collection was posted on this site two years ago. 
Click here if you would first like to read a short introduction to this long story below.

The greatest treasures the WA State Historical Society Museum ever had was lost, stolen, or both, depending on how the strange circumstances concerning its departure are viewed. At the time, 1909, viewed from Tacoma, it was theft, but in the rival metropolis of Seattle, it was simply a legitimate removal.
      The treasure consisted of the largest, and possibly the best, a collection of Northwest Indian art assembled up to that time, numbering thousands of objects. It was entrusted by the man who acquired it, piece by piece, Capt Dorr Francis Tozier, to the Ferry Museum of Art in 1900 because that newly established institution was the only place on Puget Sound capable of caring for and displaying so vast an accumulation. after a distinguished early career in the Revenue Service, during which he received a gold medal from France for rescuing the crew of a wrecked French vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, Tozier was sent to the Northwest with the US Revenue Cutter GRANT to enforce maritime laws, intercept smugglers, and answer calls of distress. 

Click image to enlarge.
This image courtesy of the US Coast Guard Museum
Pacific Northwest Branch,
Seattle, WA.
The assignment gave Tozier the opportunity to put the Grant into remote rivers and harbors, where natives were as eager to trade the things they made as their forefathers had been to trade for pelts. He became imbued with collecting fever, realizing that this was a rare opportunity to bring out from the wilderness, to be seen, preserved, and appreciated, the elements of a civilization that was rapidly being overwhelmed and superseded by that of the white settlers.
      In his zeal to collect he and some of his crew members sometimes were less than scrupulous. In 1902, a B.C. constable reported that when the GRANT was in Ucluelet [Vancouver Island], whiskey was used to trade for “curios” and crew members had gone into Village Island Reserve when no one was there and walked off with a much-esteemed item, the headgear worn by Inikitson, the chief dancer.

      In an interview after he retired Tozier told of a visit to Friendly Cove on Vancouver Island, where he offered a chief twenty dollars apiece for twelve large ceremonial figures. The chief turned down the cash but offered one figure for a bottle of whiskey. When Tozier said he had no liquor, the chief thought he was bargaining and offered all twelve figures for one bottle. Tozier returned to the village the next year and found that the chief had died and all the totem figures had been burned upon his death.
      Tozier learned to carry trade items on his trips. One of his prized acquisitions was a carved ivory snow knife. Its owner, a woman, would not take cash for it, but couldn't resist a red dress he happened to have.
Captain Dorr Tozier

      Homeport for the GRANT was Port Townsend, and by 1900 Tozier's collection, dominated by many large baskets, was getting so sizeable he realized it was more than he could keep at home. He heard about the new museum in Tacoma and went to secretary W. H. Gilstrap, offering to let him have custody, but not ownership, of the collection. Subsequent events indicated that Gilstrap probably was to undertake sales from the collection and receive a commission. However, the curators at the Ferry Museum welcomed the opportunity to fill some of the vacant space they had been assigned in the courthouse with a massive array of Native American material never before seen by the local people.
      Some scarce money was spent to prepare for the Tozier collection –– as much as two thousand dollars, according to Gilstrap. A new floor was laid. Walls were painted a 'light cream color.' Glass cases with adjustable shelves were designed and built. And two long table cases to display small articles and carvings were provided. More than two thousand baskets were put on display under glass. Totems, masks, and carvings were hung on the walls. Furs and clothing were placed in cases line with red cloth. Mats were hung from the ceiling.
      The collection was the making of the Ferry Museum, and Gilstrap was so delighted that he was able to find funds to publish a small pamphlet. The pamphlet had a checker-weave cedar bark cover tied up with a buckskin thong that was decorated with one 'genuine Hudson's Bay Co trade bead.' Entitled Arts and Crafts of the Totem Indians, each copy was signed by D. F. Tozier under the statement: 'The objects illustrated in this book were in actual use by the Native Americans when obtained by me.' He proclaimed that the collection, 'representing the expenditure of thousands of dollars and many years of work,' contains ten thousand articles, including twenty-five hundred baskets, representing some thirty tribes. Also in the collection were 100 stone chisels and axes, carved pipes of stone and jade; 200 stone hammers, boxes, fish dishes, harpoons, duck spears, arrows, war clubs of bone, copper and stone; knives of copper ivory, shell and iron, ancient medicine and cooking stones, one large racing and one war canoe; wood and stone images; cedar bark rope; and beaded gloves and slippers.
      The collection also included 'twelve mammoth totems, weighing from six hundred to twenty thousand pounds,' representing Native Indian religious art form becoming scarce because of the success Christian missionaries were having in getting the natives to abandon 'their former religious rites and superstitions.'
     The collection was described as being three times a large as a smaller one at the Smithsonian Institution (principally Wilkes expedition material) and in a Seattle newspaper article in 1904, four years after it was taken to Tacoma, the collection was said to be 'practically unknown except in Tacoma and to the immediate friends of the owner.'
      It was not unknown to other and larger institutions interested in native materials, including the Smithsonian and the Field Museum in Chicago. When Tozier made it plain that the collection had to be sold, some Tacomans, including Gilstrap, wondered if enough money could be raised locally to keep it from being taken away. A letter went out to various museums around the country from Dr. W. M. Smith of Tacoma containing price quotes as high they indicated his intent may have been to discourage potential buyers. In his letter, he stated that Tozier had offered to sell the collection to Tacoma 'at practically what it cost him. This is a very large sum for citizens to raise and I fear we will lose it.' He went on to say that Captain Tozier had made him his agent to sell the collection if it couldn't be kept in Tacoma.
      One who wanted the collection very much, and said so, was G. Dorsey of the Field Museum. He wrote to Gilstrap saying Field would buy the collection if it could be bought for a reasonable sum. 'I am the only one in the country in a position to purchase it as the other museums do not have sufficient funds' and asked' what is the lowest cash price.'
      British Columbia Provincial Archives sent its representative to Tacoma to inspect the collection, as did the Brooklyn Museum, twice, and then write disparaging reports about most of what he saw, describing the Ferry Museum as disorganized, badly maintained, and a general hodgepodge of unrelated items.
      But no sale took place, and the years went by, causing Tacoma to take an increasingly greater proprietary interest in the dominant holding of its museum and raising hopes that perhaps ho buyer would ever be found. Tozier had retired and moved to Los Angeles, telling Gilstrap that he hoped Tacoma would keep the collection, but that he couldn't take less than what he estimated it cost him–thiry-five thousand dollars.
      In 1909, several Seattleites pondered the situation of the Tozier collection and concluded there was money to be made from it. They organized what was called the WA. State Art Assoc and convinced Tozier that it was a serious buyer and would pay his price of around $40,000. But it would have to be an installment sale with very little down. Tozier trusted them and accepted the down payment.
      When the sale was announced, Tacoma, predictably, was incensed. Just previously Seattle had attempted to take over the WA. State Historical Society. Now, it wanted the Ferry Museum. Tacoma could not match the offer to Tozier but was unwilling to yield. This defiant attitude led the purchasers to expect trouble when they went to Tacoma to pick up the collection.
      Thirty workmen were recruited and sent to Tacoma on the interurban early on the morning of 9 Oct 1909. Earlier, the Northern Pacific had been asked to provide five freight cars to carry the material. The freight agent, a loyal Tacoman, let it be known that even if the cars were loaded he could not say when they would be moved and that the freight rate would be high.
      This led the Seattle group to charter the Puget Sound steamer, the T. W. LAKE. It was moored in the Tacoma harbor, ready to receive the Tozier art, which weighed as much as sixty tons and required eleven large horse-drawn vans to move it down the hill to the waterfront in one day.
      When G.L. Berg, one of the organizers of the Art Assoc arrived at the Ferry Museum early on Sunday 9 Oct, he was told that an injunction to prevent him from removing the collection had been requested. If so, it was not acted on, and the men Berg brought with him set to work packing the material in boxes. Gilstrap was there and by then had become reconciled to the collection being taken away after Berg assured him that he could keep enough baskets to satisfy the museum's claim for costs in connection with the collection's custody. 
      During the day a small crowd gathered outside the courthouse and there were cries of protest. 'They are moving the Ferry Museum to Seattle.'
Poster of a small portion of the Tozier baskets
Courtesy of the WA. State Historial Society
Tacoma, WA. 

In mid-afternoon, the workmen started taking the screws out of cases containing the baskets that Gilstrap said were not to be taken. Berg was summoned. He said he had changed his mind, they were going to take it all. Gilstrap was outraged and began to protest. He was vociferous and loud. Then, on Berg's instructions, a burly workman took hold of Gilstrap, who was described in press reports as 'aged,' pushed him into his office and locked the door from the outside. When Gilstrap continued to yell, the transom over the door was slammed shut so that he could not be heard. By then the street was deserted and no one could see him through a window, waving in protest.
      Only after the last item in the collection had been boxed up and sent to the deck of the T.W. LAKE was the key turned and Gilstrap allowed out of his office. He had cooled down but little and went immediately to the Daily Ledger office, where he told the story that made the next day's lead headline on the front page: 'HOLD CURATOR PRISONER DURING RAID ON CURIOS––Gilstrap Overpowered by Thirty Brawny Men.'
      Tacoma banker P.C. Kaufman noted: 'This is another example of the so-called Seattle spirit. It reminds me of the totem pole controversy...A committee of businessmen left Seattle one dark night and stole a big totem pole from one of the islands. The totem pole was placed in Pioneer Square where it remains today.'
      The Seattle P-I began its report the next day with this statement: 'Under circumstances which fully demonstrates an envious spirit on the part of residents of Tacoma and in an utter lack of magnanimity on the part of the officers of the Ferry Museum, officers of the WA State Art Association, last night removed the Tozier collection
      There it was put in storage while the association undertook to rent space for a gallery. The location it found was a good one––at Fifth and Union in the downtown area––and there some of the Tozier collection was exhibited. The Art Association turned out not to be much if any, more affluent than the Ferry Museum. In 1912, there was a mismanagement of funds investigation and Capt. Tozier revealed that payments to him were not being made. He had not received anything more than the $1,500 initially paid. Meanwhile, published estimates of the value of the collection had risen to $60,000. 
     Commissions amounting to $3,600 had been paid to two persons in connection with the sale, and Tozier brought suit against the Assoc for $5,000. The suit did not go to court. In the confusion over ownership of the artifacts, the UW began insisting that it go to the museum located on the campus, where it would be 'beyond the reach of speculation and envious rivals.'
      In 1916 the Art Assoc gave up and went into receivership. 
      The collection had been downgraded in value to $25,000 when Indian collections were out of favor or fashion.
      In 1917 the Museum of the American Indian Heye Foundation was assembling in New York city what was to become the preeminent collection of Native American material in the nation. President George G. Heye, collected with a zeal that matched that of Capt. Tozier and he was wealthy. He arranged the purchase of a major portion of it, except for baskets.
      Tozier had never been paid, and his widow possessed the notes that had been given to her husband when the 1909 purchase was made and the collection removed from the Ferry Museum. Mrs. Tozier was paid $22,500 and canceled the notes.
      Parts of the collection not sold to the Heye Foundation were purchased by other parties, including the Thomas Burke Museum, on the UW campus. One of the carved house poles was purchased from a dealer in recent years by John Hauberg of Seattle, who subsequently gave it to the Seattle Art Museum because the figures carved on it frightened his grandchildren.
      The Ferry Museum, which in 1931 became part of the Society, was not mortally wounded by the loss of the Tozier collection. The captain was not the only collector and the museum has accumulated other scarce Native American Indian items over the years. Today the WA. State Historical Society has an especially large and good collection of Native American basketry.
Written by John McClelland Jr. Window to the Past. Tacoma, WA. State Historical Society. 1992. Pp. 51-59.


Archived Log Entries