"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.

1917 ❖ Bark UNION ❖ Salvage attempt

William Benjamin, an old time Puget Sound steamboat man who visited Friday Harbor several weeks ago, has started operations on a venture made profitable by the war prices for copper and coal, by salving the remains of the old bark UNION, that foundered in northern San Juan County waters 43 years ago. She was on a voyage from Nanaimo, BC, to San Francisco. Benjamin quietly began work on the wreck a week ago, the news becoming public yesterday when he presented to the Cary-Davis Towing Co of Seattle, one of the copper pumps carried on the UNION.
      Benjamin's operations are believed to set a new Pacific record. So far as known, the UNION wreck is the most ancient figure in salvage operations in this ocean. Benjamin has been looking for the wreck on and off for the last five years and discovered its location the first of the month.
Bark UNION loaded coal in Nanaimo in 1875.
She wrecked in San Juan County
en route to San Francisco, CA.
      The wreck holds 600-tons of the best Nanaimo coal, all in as good condition as the day the UNION sailed out of the Vancouver Island harbor on her way to San Francisco. The bark went ashore on one of the San Juan Islands and later slid off into ten fathoms of water. The officers and crew escaped to land.

      The coal is in large chunks and consequently is rather difficult to salve, but Benjamin will employ a large clam-shell dipper to bring it to the surface. He will load it into scows and place the fuel on the market.
      Benjamin began his salvage operations with his small gas boat, the IGLOO. He has now purchased the old steam freighter SEATTLE SPIRIT from the Port Blakeley Mill Co, to carry on the work.
      When the diver first descended to the wreck, he found one of the vessel's two copper pumps sticking up through the coal. Removing it, he brought it to Seattle as a gift for the Cary-Davis Towing Co. in return for a copper deck pump that the company presented to him.
      On reaching the wreck Benjamin discovered that the salt water had eaten away all the iron in the old bark. The anchor has been reduced to almost nothing and the chains are practically gone.
      The UNION had a copper bottom and copper bolts. The copper, like the coal, is as good as the day the ship went down, showing absolutely no sign of deterioration. The vessel's upper works disappeared long ago.
Above text from the Friday Harbor Journal. Oct. 1917.
The wreck site near Rosario Straits may be the one that became a source of coal for certain salty types from Orcas Island. Feel free to comment below.

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