"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 700, 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.

17 December 2019


The Marine Digest 1945


King & Winge 
Built 1914 in West Seattle, WA.
The former pilot boat, fur-seal trader, fishing schooner,
heroine, and rum-runner.
Photo location; Lake Union, Seattle, WA.
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"Busy days of wartime ship construction did not dull the interest of Oscar E. Olson and Carl B. Winge in famous vessels. They were still telling of their surprise as they gazed out on the ways of the Olson and Winge Marine Works, on the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and saw the pilot ship COLUMBIA hauled out for repairs and alterations for the vessel was none other than the famed schooner King & Winge under another name and rig.
      The King & Winge was home after 30 years, bringing back memories of 1890 when Thomas J. King and Albert Winge started in business as shipbuilders in West Seattle. The latter, the uncle of Carl R. Winge, came from a family of Norwegian boat builders. Albert's father made a record of carving figureheads for the bows of the early-day sailing vessels, that probably never will be equaled.
      No ship still afloat has won the fame of the COLUMBIA, ex-KING & WINGE. In her log has been recorded the stories of Arctic rescues, ship disasters, and the carrying of pilots through the treacherous waters a the mouth of the Columbia River.
      The sturdy pilot boat has made 30,000 trips across the bar at the mouth of the Columbia. All of these trips have been logged by Capt. Frank Craig, her veteran skipper, since the Columbia River bar pilots purchased her in 1923.
      King & Winge were just finishing the vessel named for that firm when, the Hibbard and Swenson Co was seeking a vessel to send to the Bering Sea for their year's catch of Arctic furs aboard the Belvedere, trapped in the ice floes.
      The King & Winge, sheathed in ironbark for protection against the ice, sailed under charter and in command of Capt. Octon P. Jochimson. After the cargo was transferred to a ship at Nome, the King & Winge left on a walrus hunting expedition.
King & Winge 
with upside-down ensign.
Undated photo original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

      Olaf Swenson, one of those chartering the vessel, was aboard and ordered the schooner to Herschel Island to the rescue of the Stefansson expedition, stranded there, and their ship, the Karluk frozen in the ice. It was estimated that the survivors had only 10 days of food left and the King and Winge was rushed through the ice at top speed. After a trip fraught with danger, the vessel rescued 12 persons from the island, including women and children. Later the group was placed aboard the cutter Bear and then a successful walrus hunt was completed. 
      After a season of halibut fishing, the King & Winge was in the news again in 1918 when she stood by the wreck of the Canadian Pacific steamship Princess Sophia, stranded on Vanderbilt Reef in SE Alaska. The Sophia sank in deep water with a loss of more than 300 lives. The King and Winge became a funeral ship, [along with a few other boats] gathered the bodies that would be reached and returned to port.
      The King & Winge was of exceptional heavy construction. She has a cutter bow without the original stubby bowsprit. She carried a Coast Guard Reserve number on her gray hull and the word 'pilot' on her deckhouse. She has been in the service of the CG since the beginning of the war, as have been her pilot owners who now wear CG uniforms. The King & Winge, a remarkable little ship, has taken many years of punishment and 85 percent of the original vessel is still sound [in 1945.] She has many more years to go, the men who helped build her contend.
      Thomas J. King and Albert Winge started in the shipbuilding business in West Seattle in 1899. The latter, the uncle of Carl B. Winge, came from a family of Norwegian boat builders. Albert Winge's father made a reputation carving fine figureheads for the early sailing ships.
      However the two partners intermingled trades and business and besides carrying on marine construction, engaged in cod and halibut fishing and built the Tom & All, which provided the pattern for the new and large King & Winge larger, stouter, and more suitable than any other fishing vessel and the old-timers on the Seattle waterfront know how well they succeeded.
      Carl B. Winge was the treasurer and purchasing agent for the Kine & Winge firm at the time this namesake of the yard was built. He knew every piece of material that went into the vessel. Oscar E. Olson was machinist foreman. Both eventually followed separate courses in the shipbuilding trade and then in 1941 merged their talents to form the firm of Olson and Winge. Many of the men who built the famous ship were employed at that yard.
      Olson & Winge's record in the war program was an enviable one. Fifteen halibut and seine boats were converted for Navy use as supply ships, forerunners of the large PT-boats. Then eight assorted private vessels, requisitioned by the Army, came from the plant as supply or 'Q" boats. All of them were ca. 60-ft in length.
      Several special jobs were fitted into the program, including the conversion to a net tender of the former ferry Bee Line, and a floating marine repair shop from a RCL, 203-ft, non-propelled wooden Army barge.
      The firm then turned its attention to construction of four 50-ft harbor patrol boats for the Coast Guard. New construction also included fifteen 110-ft cargo lighters and four 48-ft degaussing barges for the Navy. Then came the extensive outfitting of uncompleted high-powered aircraft rescue boats and the repairing of others that already had seen service.
      As in the case of other successful yards, Olson & Winge prized very highly the skill and energy of their key men. They include K.J. Carlson and Gus Newman, veteran shipwrights, Herb Black, caulker foreman, Frank Smith, Homer Pricket and Axel Olson, machinists, who all helped build the King & Winge. Also Ted Vadset, plant superintendent, D.E. Erickson, assistant production manager, Bill Richardson, purchasing agent, and Ed Winge, son of Carl, office and assistant business manager, not forgotten in the story of the success of the Olson & Winge Marine Works, situated in the Lake WA Ship Canal.
COLUMBIA (ex-King & Winge)
Lightship 88

at her moorage site in Astoria, OR. 
In the background is the wave-shaped roofline of the 
Columbia River Maritime Museum 
under construction with  $750,000 raised to the date
 of this photo of 1976.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

07 December 2019


Early photo of the Roche Harbor Lime Kilns
postmarked 1909
San Juan Island, WA.
Click to enlarge.
Photo by J. A. McCormick.
"History has not recorded the name of the canny Briton at English Camp who first discovered that the hills and cliffs which surrounded the idyllic spot were almost solid limestone. That rock is very valuable mineral. It can be reduced to a compound called “lime,” which is crucial to the steel industry, the paper industry, agriculture, and concrete technology. 
      All that is needed is some strong backs to transport it to a plant and an oven that can reach nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature the rock becomes ‘calcined,’ it changes to a water-soluble residue. High-grade lime has been in demand for centuries in every industrial nation. So those hills around Garrison Bay were even more valuable than if they had been solid coal.
      During the eleven years that the British Marines were quartered at English Camp on the northeast corner of San Juan Island, the chief occupation of the soldiers was not patrolling the area to resist invasions by the Yankees, or even to fight off occasional raids by the Haida tribesmen. Lt. Roche kept most of them busy quarrying the precious stone and stoking the fires under two primitive line kilns that they had installed nearby.
      Hogsheads of the chemical were shipped by the Hudson's Bay Company to British possessions around the world.
      When the English lost domain over the island in the decision handed down by the Emperor of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm, the Crown lost access to a precious resource. Limestone in commercially worthwhile amounts is found only on San Juan Island in San Juan County. 
      The production of lime and its marketing, even though it was only a trickle from some quarries and kilns on Orcas and the San Juan Islands, attracted considerable interest from mining interests in the lower Sound communities. One of the most keenly-interested Yankees was a young attorney by the name of John Stafford McMillin who had been raised in a lime quarrying county in Illinois. He came to the Pacific Northwest in 1884, to practice law in Tacoma. When he discovered that there was a source of lime in the lands to the north, he bought into the fledgling Tacoma Lime Co and began to deal with buying and selling the commodity.

Inscribed "Largest Lime quarries
west of the Mississippi River."
      When the British Marines packed up and left San Juan Island two kilns were shut down.
      Two Englishmen who had been prospecting for gold in California heard about the limestone quarry at the bay now named for the Commandant of the camp, Roche Harbor. In 1881 they bought the rights to the quarry and the two kilns and began to turn out lime.
      McMillin, who had been able to find only a small amount of limestone near Orting for his new company got wind of the operation on San Juan Island. He began bargaining with the Scurr Brothers, Robert, and Richard, in 1884. By 1886, he had managed to buy the business from the Englishmen. He continued to operate the two army-installed kilns and created a new company, The Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Co.
      Mining engineers calculated that the lode of limestone was three-quarters of a mile long and a quarter-mile wide. Not only was there enough rock for many decades of mining, but it was estimated at 98.32% pure carbonate of lime. What McMillin found was the most valuable supply of high-grade lime in the world.
The Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Co.,
The Company Town,
San Juan Island, WA.
Click image to enlarge.
Undated photo.
      In a short time, McMillin added three more kilns to the two original ones, which was called Battery #1. Then he built another, much larger plant comprising 8 kilns––Battery #2. These thirteen retorts consumed a prodigious amount of firewood––128 cords per day. The land attached to the Lime Works offered 4,000 acres of timber for the furnaces.
      McMillin created his own little feudal domain. His company town offered the workers trim little houses, the store sold them supplies––both were paid for by scrip which was issued instead of money in pay envelopes. The workforce was made up of Orientals and single and married Caucasians. The single men were housed in a barracks. The Orientals were segregated into a cluster of houses over near the kilns referred to as 'Jap Town.' At its peak, there were 800 people who directly or indirectly were controlled by the Lime Baron.
      While the injustices of the 'Company Town' system were prevalent in Roche Harbor, the Island community did have some needed facilities. There was a Company doctor, Victor Capron. There was a school for the children of the workers. The was also a Methodist Church.
      Although the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Co community was a virtual fiefdom to itself, its influence was felt throughout the rest of the Island. When a regular newspaper came to the Island, it fell immediately under the influence of the magnate from Roche Harbor. McMillin became enormously wealthy and he was catered to by the Republican State administration and the business community.
      The barrel factory had a phenomenal history of success in manufacturing. For centuries, barrels had been made by fashioning staves which were cut and beveled and bent into arcs to be put together with steel bands. It was a time-consuming and expensive operation. In 1897, McMillin invented a machine for carving hollowed-out barrel halves. A log the proper size for a  barrel would be split in half and carved by a blade into a half-section of a barrel. When the two halves were finished, they were joined and sealed to make a 
'staveless barrel. The shop was set up on the grounds and called the "Staveless Barrel Co.' With only 50 employees, the machines could turn out 4,000 barrels per day. This was more than enough to meet the demands of the lime works which boasted that they produced '1,500 barrels per day.' The surplus barrels were sold to shippers of other bulk products.
      Whether old 'John S.' himself actually invented the wondrous barrel carving machine is not known. But the boss of the Lime Works had plenty of ingenuity when it came to financing. His fancy didos in the field of stock transfer and manipulation of funds almost earned him a jail sentence in 1906. The barrel company was involved.
The company town of the
Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Co.
The quarry, the kilns, the McMillin home, a store,
Hotel de Haro, a home for the Doctor, and the
docks for shipping of the lime barrels.
Undated photo, click to enlarge.
These four photos from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

Back in the days when the containers were made by artisans, Mr. McMillin created the plant as a separate entity. It was incorporated by the sale of two shares of stock: one purchased by him and the other a Tacoma investor named J.M. Keen, price––price $100 each.
      John S. now had two hats: lime baron and barrel magnate. Wearing the manufacturer's hat, he asked for a contract to provide all the barrels for the lime works. With the quick change of headgear and he accepted the kind offer on behalf of the lime company (which had other stockholders, incidentally.)
      In 1897, Mr. McMillin the inventor sold the new milling machine he had created to Mr. McMillin the Manufacturer––the price was $2,300. While he was in a dickering mode with the coopering McMillin, he sold the right to use the machine to fulfill the contract to supply the barrels to the lime miner. The price was $249,800 which was the exact amount of the stock issue on the Barrel Co. The stock was all owned, except for the one share to Keen, by Mr. McMillin. He bought the shares by signing a note for them.
      Now we have a quarter-million-dollar factory, almost wholly owned by one man, with $200 in its treasury. John S. considered that somewhat untidy––money just lying around unused. So he billed the company $200 for his services in preparing the articles of incorporation. The company, with no demurral, paid the bill.
      The minority stockholders in the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Co watched this juggling act with consternation. First of all, he became the majority holder by voting himself a raise in pay, even though the company was losing money. With the paychecks, he bought up most of the stock from frightened stockholders.
      John S. now firmly held all of the controls over the mining, packaging, and distribution of the lime––except one––the transportation of it.
      This called for the acquisition of another hat. It was not difficult for him to get since he was a wheel-horse in the Republican Party in Washington. The governor rewarded his contributions to the party coffers by giving him the job of State Railroad Commissioner.
      The principal duty of this office was to ensure that all shippers were subject to the same rates. Mr. McMillin undertook the job and administered it firmly––with one minor exception ––he permitted the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Co to be granted a rate 2 1/2 cents per barrel lower than that of a competitor.
      Eventually, the competitor, E.V. Cowell and several of the manhandled ex-stockholders forced the many-faceted panjandrum into a court of law. In front of a Federal Judge in Seattle, words like 'filcher, 'defrauder,' highbinder,' and 'venal bureaucrat' were bandied about.
      It will come as no surprise to students of the age of rampant laissez-faire in business, a period called by President McKinley 'the Great Barbecue,' that all of the personages represented by John S. McMillin emerged as Simon-pure. With one exception. He did resign his job as Railroad Commissioner."
Jo Bailey-Cummings and Al Cummings. The Settler's Own Stories: San Juan: The Powder-Keg Island. Friday Harbor, WA. The Beach Combers, Inc. 1987. 
Authors of Gunkholing in the San Juans.    

01 December 2019


Lewis Dodd (1892-1960) and
Elizabeth 'Tib' Van Order Dodd (1895-1989)
New residents crafting their home on Yellow Island,
San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Photo courtesy of the Dodd family.

"Yellow Island remains the kingdom of the paradoxical man who sculpted its 11 acres into a monument to himself. From 1947 to his death in 1960, Lewis Dodd and his wife Elizabeth lived alone on Yellow, fashioning a way of life as unique as their home.
      Lew Ddd's whole life was an apprenticeship for the Yellow years when he wrought his masterpiece. Born in 1892 and raised on Long Island, New York, he ran away to sea when he was 15 years old to sail before the mast on square-riggers. He tried cowboying, served in WW I Navy, married Elizabeth ('Tib') in 1920, and became the first mate of merchantman before he went ashore in 1921 to try the real estate game in New York. Hating the confinement, he came west looking for freedom.
      The Dodds found it on Orcas Island, practicing subsistence agriculture until 1947. During these years Lew perfected his frontier skills, and Tib, too, learned the skills necessary to raise a family without electricity or plumbing.
      In a Northwest still wild enough for creating one's own niche, Lew's idiosyncracies molded their lives. He was determined to eschew all frills. Lew was always the captain often his way meant the Navy way. His daughter Sally Hall remembers him as moody, difficult to live with. He sometimes expressed bitterly his sense of entrapment by familiar responsibilities.
      Lew's portrait reveals a compulsion to be unique, whatever the cost. His family shared the joys and sufferings of a man who never quite grew up, a man who mourned the loss of the frontier so deeply that he re-created it in a self-imposed life of struggle; a mate so self-determined that one wonders if he wasn't running from doubt, a man so stamped by the sea that he imposed its harsh regimen of work and discipline on his family.
Arriving on Yellow Island with logs towed from
their Orcas Island farm.
Courtesy of the Dodd family. 
      By 1947 Lew Dodd was ready for Yellow Island. He bought the chip of wilderness for $8,000, sold his farm, and moved aboard. The poet was finally in the presence of his theme. After drilling a well, he and Tib camped in a tent for two years while they built their cabin. Except for hinges, nails, and windows, they beachcombed all the materials. Working from dawn to dusk, doing everything from scratch, was back-breaking, but Lew persevered because he would not allow himself the luxury of giving up.
Lew and Tib Dodd camping at home.
Yellow Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
  Dated 1947.
Courtesy of the Dodd family.
      Tib also exhibited high courage––enduring living conditions, lugging materials, and helping Lew lift the heaviest beams. Both had the will to succeed that the venture demanded.
      Lew accomplished much and visualizing lucidly what he wanted, his work is lasting and good. The cabin has needed no maintenance in 30 years. It fits so perfectly into Yellow's landscape that Frank Lloyd Wright couldn't have designed it better. It grows effortlessly out of the rock surface and wind-skewed madronas. The flow line of the roof and wall, door and chimney, has poetry that speaks volumes for Lew Dodd's sensitivity. The trails are laid with skills: even the outhouse has a millionaires' view.
      First, Lew paced of the 27-by-33-foot floor and leveled it with beach gravel. A level, rule, and square did the rest. Stockaded logs, planked on the outside and insulated with sod and cedar bark, form the walls, whose seams are caulked inside with twisted cedar bark. Adzed cedar rafters support a ceiling and roof of hand-cut shakes. The rafters rest on a huge oaken ridgepole that may be a catwalk washed down from a Fraser River mine. The floor and Dutch doors were hatch covers. There are snug bunks, rope-handled storage lockers fashioned of dynamite crates, a sewing box made from a wooden rigging block, stools fashioned from whale vertebrae, windows salvaged from a chicken coop, and a ship's identification timber built into a bench. The yawning fireplace is native stone cemented around a chimney of welded oil drums. the hearthstone is living rock. An iron wagon tire forms the fireplace arch, and the poker is a whaler's flensing tool for stripping blubber from whales.
Dodd cabin interior
with the native stone hearth.

Yellow Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Photo courtesy of the Dodd family.
      All is of a piece with the man, the island, and the beach. Lew skippered Yellow like a ship: perhaps he chose it as the closest approximation of life on shipboard, the perfect solution for a seaman searching for a frontier. Every barnacled, worm-eaten surface is worn with love and age, and the whole forms an intricate montage of flotsam, jetsam, and craftmanship, pleasing the eye and reflecting Dodd's uncompromising individuality.
      Lew probably regretted finishing the cabin in 1949, for he continued salvaging. He was a generation before his time; every possession was recycled. Yet in other ways, he was of his time. He kept building with maniac energy. Robinson Crusoe tells us why: A marooned man of action must be doing! A root cellar, workshop, boathouse, guest cabin, several beach buildings rose simply from an obsession to use material. These structures share one feature––low doors. Lew was 5-ft 3-inches tall, and he wreaked a short man's vengeance on all who came later.
Dodd home on Yellow Island,
San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Dated 1948.
Click image to enlarge.
Courtesy of the Dodd family.
      The Dodd's full, natural life was not escapism. Their time was absorbed by living. In 13 years the Dodds rarely left the island. They both read hugely, and the cabin remains full of books. Viewed against his building achievement, Lew's lack of interest in any fiction except sea stories suggest that his imagination was confined to fantasies he could build. There is a fairy-tale quality to the cabins, hideaways, stone-cairned flagpoles, and the Jacob's ladder disappearing into a tall fir. Tib wrote poetry, studied birds, and botanized. Both kept journals. Lew's describes mainly the weather but reveals his healthy self-esteem and ready denunciation of other ways of living––the writings of a man reassuring himself.
      ' I don' want to sell my life for a jingling pocket, a stiff uncomfortable collar, flabby muscles, and a bilious complexation. I've chosen to live, however precariously, in the atmosphere of pure air and pebbly beaches. I think it is lovelier to come to the end of the trail through physical struggle surrounded by the things an outdoor man loves.'
      Lew's ashes are interred on Yellow in the meadow he named Hummingbird Hill. If you would see his monument it is neither here nor in his journals, but in Yellow's buildings and beauty, where he laid his heart. Tib lives in Seattle. She no longer visits Yellow, but daughter Sally said her husband Joe spend their summers there.
      The family has given The Nature Conservancy a year's option to purchase Yellow because they would rather ensure it will be preserved with the gentleness Lew Dodd's memory deserves than chance the heartache of private sale. The Dodds reveled in the thought of passing their island on to posterity and now that dream may be realized in a more lasting way than even Lew hoped. Another generation that has come around the wong way to values Lew Dodd presciently understood may now inherit his dream."
Source: Robert A. Stafford, Pacific Search. Nov. 1979. From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.
Thank you to two supportive San Juan County friends, one who donated this 40-year-old article and another who provided an introduction to Sally, Jo, and family.

For more up to date information on the preservation of the island please click here

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