Maritime Memories Of Puget Sound in photographs and text By Williamson & Gibbs
Maritime Memories Of Puget Sound in photographs and text By Joe Williamson and Jim Gibbs
Copyright 1976 FIRST EDITION
About this book 7
Indian Ways and Discovery Days 15
Portal to Commerce 28
How Commerce and Industry Came To Be 54
If It Swims We Have It 84
Steamboats Are A'Comin' 91
Waterfront Characters, Haunts and Strange Events 118
Struggle For Survivial 133
Maritime Miscellany 156
About this book
ANYBODY FOR AN ARMCHAIR CRUISE? Just come on aboard and join us as we follow our compass into the yesteryears on Puget Sound. Your crew, "shutterbug" Joe Williamson and "shipwreck" Jim Gibbs, two waterfront characters, friends since the 1940's, who have teamed up in an effort to produce a photo book on a new facet of the maritime past. We have titled it, Maritime Memories of Puget Sound , and the title pretty much tells the story. Light on text, with emphasis on thought-provoking maritime photos and captions, it is our hope that a growing number of Puget Sounders will find joy in glimpsing into the past of this very unique corner of Northwest United States. The text for the main part affords a random background of some of the early historic events in Peter Puget land - the Indians, the discoverers, the pioneers, the early settlements, the problems and the establishment of the little ports that grew big and the little ports that faded away. It tells of the beginning of industry and commerce, of the frontiersmen, and the empire builders, the waterfront characters and of those that went from rags to riches and from riches to rags.
The photos that for the most part come from Brer' Joe's vast collection, cover many heretofore unpublished facets and incidents of early Puget Sound. Joe has built his entire career around maritime photography and has also amassed a treasure of photos from valuable collections, many of which have appeared in other books. He has thumbed through some 15,000 negatives to find the ones most appropo for this book, and has his camera - constantly at his side, even when he operates a Seattle sightseeing boat. Many claim Joe has webs between his toes and salt in his veins. His photo shop is in his home at Winslow on the rim of Eagle Harbor and if anything floats on salt-water, fresh-water or stagnant water, he's there to snap it.
Puget Sound ports didn't get off the ground until the California gold rush, when San Francisco cried for timber of every cut. Pioneers who could see beyond gold, found their treasure in green, the tall forests surrounding Puget Sound. They discovered its fabulous fishing waters, coal deposits and productive hinterland valleys. Competition among the lumber mills was something fierce, and coastwise lumber schooners, square-riggers and puffing steamers began to show up to carry the cargo away and bring the passengers and supply for the new frontier around the great inland sea, known as Puget Sound. Occasionally there were Indian flare-ups calling for military action, but the Indian soon learned, to his chagrin, that he must accept the inevitable. Then came the drive for the railroads, a long hard battle of finances and influence as to which port would be the terminus.
The pages of maritime history fade into obscurity amidst the monumental events that have come to pass in our time. The nuclear age is indeed a far cry from the primitive strugglings of slightly over a century ago, but of a certainty, the pioneers must have taken great pride in watching milestones come to pass, sometimes against almost overwhelming odds. With the pressures of our present day, in a computerized and automated world, it is sometimes hard to imagine the exhilarating excitement exhibited by those of yesteryear over such events as the arrival of a ship or the launching of one; the driving of the golden spike as the first train rolled in; a record production of mill timber, or the felling of the largest tree.
It is hoped that the words and photos of this book will revive a small share of the excitement experienced by those stalwarts of yesteryear. Would that we might recapture some of the lost spirit of our forbears who heeded that clarion call, "Go West, young man! Go West!"
- Jim Gibbs
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Like a swift fleeting meteor, a fast flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave
Man passes from life to his rest in the grave.
PUGET SOUND! ITS VERY name has a magic ring. As much of a trademark to the Pacific Coast as is ChesaBay to the Atlantic Seaboard, it is America's most unusual inland sea. This great natural body of salt-water often described as a miracle from above has as its guardian saint, lofty Mount Rainier, which raises its dome of eternal white - the mountain that has been called, God. Polka dotted with islands, islets, coves, bays, villages, towns and bustling sea ports, it caters to anything and everything that floats on its surface or lives in its depths. Rich in history, legend and lore, despite our changing times, it has something for just about everyone from the angler to the navigator, or from the yachtsman to the beachcomber. Its waters teem with an endless variety of fish and crustaceans while its fringes are dotted with fascinating beaches of sand or rock, colorful aids to navigation, a wide variety of settlements, and portals of commerce. Sometimes, tall green forests grow within a stone's throw of its beaches.
Travel the world over, but one will never find a comparable body of water; and this is where our story has its beginning, for many discovered its intrigue decades ago, and now it is left to us to reflect on the past with its highlights and pitfalls. The upbuilding of the Sound's shores, from the day of discovery to the present, has been nothing short of phenomenal. Only can we capture through the camera lens those precious moments of yesteryear that otherwise might be lost to memory in this automated age of pressure and hustle.
It was not even 200 years ago that the only human inhabitants on Puget Sound's shores were widely scattered Indian tribes, who, virtually cut off from the outside world lived a relatively peaceful existence in their earthly happy hunting and fishing grounds. Everything was in abundance; they wanted for little. Their numbers were so few, that had not the white man come, the threat of overpopulation, pollution or freeways would have remained forever a never. Nobody knows when the first red man settled on the shores of Puget Sound, but all indications point to the fact that he must have come centuries ago, maybe even anti-dating the birth of Jesus Christ. How they came or where they came from has always been open to speculation. Living a primitive life, they left only a few artifacts to date their coming.
The Puget Sound Indian spent so much time paddling his canoe that his stature was generally short and squat - strong arms and weak legs - unlike his blood brothers dwelling in the hinterlands.
Came the age of exploration as adventurous sea rovers sailed into the hauntingly beautiful waters of Puget Sound. But before delving into this facet of history let us take a glimpse at a statistical description of this great inland sea so as to better understand its personality, as did the early explorers. Puget Sound is considered a bay with numerous channels and branches, extending about 90 miles southward from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Olympia, most southerly port and the capital of Washington State. The northern boundary is formed, at its
main entrance, by a line between Point Wilson on the Olympic Peninsula and Point Partridge on Whidbey Island, (second largest island in continental United States) Deception Island, and Sares Head on Fidalgo Island; and at a third entrance at the south end of Swinomish Channel between Fidalgo Island and McGlinn Island. There are places within this great body of water where the depths exceed 900 feet, and generally speaking, the hazards are few because of the deep waters. Navigation is comparaeasy in clear weather, and the main channels are well marked by navigation aids. Generally a mid-channel course can be followed without fear of stranding. The currents follow the general direction of the channels and have considerable velocity. In thick or dirty weather, owing to the uncertainty of the currents, the great depths render soundings useless in many places. Such facts are well known to the pilots and navigators of our day, but not so in the age of discovery when each bay, cove and inlet had to be approached with caution and sounded with the lead line.
Actually, Puget Sound has grown with the years. The name when first applied took in only about half of the area it does today. In fact, the northern part of what we call Puget Sound is officially known as Admiralty Inlet, while the lower part is Puget Sound. Further, the title "Puget Sound country," reaches all the way north to the San Juan Islands bordering British Columbia, the 172 island archipelago often described, along with Ireland, as a "little bit of Heaven that fell from out the sky one day." Perhaps the great extension of the name Puget stems from the fact that the largest and most prosperous port cities are located in that section originally designated as Puget Sound from the time of Captain George Vancouver's discovery. The highly honored lieutenant of the great navigator's ship, Peter Puget, would have been greatly elated to know that it is his name above all others that has been preserved in the pages of history. His commander attached it to the waterway, in May of 1792.
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