"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 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.


"As I have had a role in the production of news and feature pages of The Marine Digest virtually from the time of its inception in 1922, I felt that it would be fitting for me to write a brief history of this publication and its mission in the maritime industry.
      It was a busy summer day in the newsroom of Seattle's evening newspaper. I had met a ship from the Orient and was pounding out the story on my faithful old typewriter. Across a massive table from me was Jackson B. Corbet, Jr., my co-worker in the marine department, using the middle fingers of each hand on a long-suffering Underwood.
      There had been ominous huddles of the higher-ups over a telegram the boss had sent from San Francisco, which we later learned concerned the news-space problem. The old time marine editors of the City by the Golden Gate had passed out of the picture and a serious reduction in space for marine news had been the result. The two morning newspapers in San Francisco were down to a column each for 'maritime intelligence' as they called their waterfront reports. Why should Seattle's evening newspaper give four columns daily and six columns on Sunday for marine news? The boss, who had studied the San Francisco newspapers' coverage of 'maritime intelligence', gave the answer. 'Cut the space of the marine intelligence. Cut the space of the marine department to two columns,' he said in his telegram.
      The edict was a severe blow to our newspaper enthusiasm.
      'The waterfront won't stand for it,' Corbet said in his rich North of Ireland brogue. 'I'll start a shipping paper'.
      That was the spark that gave origin to The Marine Digest.
      Howard J Ryan, a top-flight advertising man, who had affiliations with Seattle steamship companies, joined with Corbet in the organization of the publication. Later, Sidney Beede became vice president and business manager and Mrs. Florence Corbet, secretary. As president, treasurer, and editor, Corbet directed the news columns and editorial policy. I became a contributing editor and handled a column of ship arrivals and cargoes.
      Volume 1, No. 1, came from the press 2 September 1922. The porthole on the cover of the magazine contained a picture of the gold ship VICTORIA of the Alaska Steamship Co coming in from Nome. There were a picture and a story of the motorship LIBBY MAINE, which had arrived from the Alaska canneries with a cargo of 50,000 cases of canned salmon. The new Yamashita Co had established headquarters in Suite 306 Central Building with J. J. Gorman as general manager, to handle ships of the Yamashita Kisen Kaisha, the publication stated.
      The news columns announced that the East Asiatic Co of Copenhagen, Denmark, had opened offices in Suite 812, L. C. Smith Building, with M. Bildsoe in charge.
      There were a two-column picture and bio of H. F. Alexander, who was described as 'the monarch of Pacific shipping.' The bio told how the panic of 1893 wrecked the Alexander family's fortune, and he, a lad of 14, headed for the Tacoma waterfront and obtained a job as a longshoreman for Dodwell, Carlill & Co. Alexander became checker, clerk, wharf agent, and finally took over the old Commercial Dock in Tacoma.
      In the first editorial in the first number of the TMD, nearly 30 years ago, Corbet said: The purpose of the publication was 'solely to serve the maritime interests of Seattle and other Pacific Northwest ports now well launched on a new and greater epoch of growth and activity.'
      Corbet, known as the 'Sage of the Waterfront' by his many friends in the shipping industry, died 18 May 1944, at his home in Tacoma, age 67 years.
      With the death of Corbet, Seattle lost one of its outstanding marine figures and the American Merchant Marine an ardent champion, always vigilant in his efforts to safeguard the future of Puget Sound shipping.
      Corbet came to Seattle from the North of Ireland with his family in 1888. He attended the public schools and was graduated from the UW in 1898 with a bachelor of arts degree. After working as a newspaper reporter in Seattle, he went to Dawson, Y. T., in 1902, where he joined the Dawson News. He returned to Seattle in 1909 to accept a position on The Seattle Times. He was marine editor of The Times throughout the WW I period and made a remarkable record in reporting Seattle's huge shipbuilding activity.
      Publication of TMD continued after Corbet's death under the direction of Mrs. Corbet, his widow, who had taken an active interest in the magazine. She was assisted by William Thornily, who held various positions with the Puget Sound Navigation Co. At this time, Thorniley was in charge of the wharf at Colman Dock, and during lulls in truck, automobile, and ferry movements, pounded out stories for TMD seated at a typewriter in the wharf office perched high above the roar of traffic on the dock. I usually climbed to this crow's nest office to deliver my copy to Bill, who was the editor, reporting to the publisher, Mrs. Corbet, who maintained the offices in Suite 101, Canadian National Dock.
      Many tides have come and gone on Puget Sound since those days and now The Marine Digest is an authoritative publication, reputed to be the largest weekly trade journal in the Pacific Northwest. Its editor and publisher is Fred W. Geibel, a man I have come to admire as a dynamo of energy and resourcefulness, a worthy successor to Jackson B. Corbet, who took over the magazine in September 1944. Homer Armstrong, a man of high ability in his field, is advertising manager and associate publisher. Tim Dwyer, production manager, came to Seattle in 1949 from Webbwood, Ontario, was associate editor of TMD for five years, and now serves as a special correspondent for this publication.
      The magazine is the official publication of the Transportation Club of Seattle, Northwest Marine Industries, Inc., the World Trade Club of Seattle, the Seattle Boat Builders' Association, the Yukon Club, the Japanese Trade Fair, and the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Inc."
Above text from High Tide, the Big Stories of the Seattle Waterfront; R. H. "Skipper" Calkins, The Marine Digest Publishing Co., Inc., 1952.


  1. During the mid-sixties, from 1963-68, I worked for The Marine Digest as their pressman, operating a Kelly B rotary press, churning out the weekly waterfront magazine from their 79 Columbia St. address in Seattle. During those years Tim Dwyer was still the business manager and John Hayden ran the show. Pounding the Linotype keyboard was Lloyd Smith who also made up the page galleys. I would come in Tuesday and run the pages through the press until Thursday. During those hours I would also run them through the folder and by Thursday evening everything would be ready for Bayless Bindery to pickup the pages, collate and mail from their facility. TMD also had two writers on staff plus a receptionist. Together, that made seven employees putting out the weekly. Realizing this was not a career position, I left in '68 and hired on with Pacific Northwest Bell as an installer, retiring from them in 1995 as a supervisor in network switching. Sometime after I left the Digest, John, active in Republican politics, was appointed governor of America Samoa. I recall at one time Dan Evens came through the office politicking for governor.

  2. Thank you Mr. Pressman! Appreciate you reading the Log and taking time to send this background. It is what we need for recording our history. All the best to you.


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