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United States: Washington


Washington.Aberdeen, Washington.

Aberdeen is located at the confluence of the Chehalis and Wishkah rivers at the head of Grays Harbor, at the southern end of Washington's Olympic Peninsula. The region's rich fisheries and abundant timber supported a number of Native American communities and served to attract European settlement in the mid-nineteenth century. During the latter half of the nineteenth century a number of small communities were established on Grays Harbor, but Aberdeen quickly grew to dominate as the commercial and cultural hub. Lumber, fisheries, and shipbuilding have fueled the local economy for much of the region's history.

In May 1792 Robert Gray brought the Columbia into the harbor. He named it Bulfinch Harbor in honor of Charles Bulfinch, one of the Columbia's owners in Boston. One of Gray's crew, Fifth Mate John Boit, described "vast many canoes came off, full of Indians." Boit's journal also reveals that although Gray called the bay Bulfinch Harbor, his crew called it Gray's Harbor from the beginning, as did George Vancouver, a British captain who anchored off the entrance to the bay just a few months later, in October.

In 1848, William O'Leary came to Grays Harbor to settle on what would become O'Leary Creek on the south side of the bay. Other scattered settlements grew up around the harbor, but they remained small and did not begin to develop into towns until the 1880s.

Port Angeles

Since it was officially established as the location of the Custom House in 1861, Port Angeles has had a long and colorful history. Don Francisco de Eliza discovered the deep-water harbor in 1791. All trade in and out of Port Angeles came through the harbor and today the Port of Port Angeles still maintains a vigorous harbor for trade and commerce. Port Angeles was established as a town site by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 by executive order which led the Board of Trade in 1890 to call it the "Second National City", Washington DC being the first.

Most of the land was held as a military reserve until 1894. Forest and fishing industries played major roles in the boom and bust economy of Port Angeles. The regenerative forest around Port Angeles supplied the building materials for Seattle, San Francisco and beyond. Salmon was king of the Strait and plentiful for all to fish.

The Port is on the Olympic Peninsula, where hot springs in Olympic National Park were touted for their medicinal value early in the 1900s. Residents of Seattle made the 3-5 day journey to spend a week at Olympic and Sol Duc Hot Spring Resorts. They arrived in Port Angeles or Port Crescent on the "Mosquito Fleet" (independent ferries that were the major transport in Puget Sound) and then travel by wagon through the forest.

Port Blakely

Generally when someone mentions a "frontier town," images of mining or cattle towns come to mind. But along America's coastlines, logging was a pioneer industry. Europe had decimated her forests, and America's Eastern Seaboard was being used for lumber from the time the pilgrims first arrived in the 1600s and by the 1700s, ships were being built along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Virginia. Those ships carried lumber to Europe, and around the Horn to San Francisco; a treacherous undertaking at best.

At late as the Gold Rush, ships were still bringing lumber around the Horn.

Then, during the 1850s, mills began appearing along the West Coast just north of San Francisco up into Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. By the 1880s, more than 400 mills were operating in California's Humboldt Forest region alone.

The Puget Sound area of Oregon's protected coastline enjoyed an ice-free climate year round. In 1863, William Renton built the Port Blakely Mill on the southeastern shore of Bainbridge Island. A partner, Charles S. Holmes, supervised marketing activities from his San Francisco office. Because of a lack of water, activities were extended through the acquisition of "Puget Sound & Grays Harbor," line which was changed to the G.S. Simpson Co., and the line extended.

By 1883, the Northern Pacific Railroad was completed, providing a overland connection with Eastern markets. By 1885, the Port Blakely Mill was the world's largest, employing 1,200 men cutting 400,000 feet of lumber per day.

The company also purchased the Russian gunboat Politokofsky, stripped it of its guns, and used her as a carrier around Puget Sound. Renton also purchased five lumber schooners as carriers, and a tugboat to shove logs around on the Sound. When the Hall Brother's Shipyard was constructed near the Port Blakely Mill in 1881, the S.S. Julia — the largest stern wheeler in the Northwest — was built, along with scores of schooners and other craft.

Port Townsend

Thursday, April 3, 1890, The Morning Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

Why Port Townsend is Destined to be a 
City of Great Importance!

Reason 1: It has the best harbor of Puget Sound, from Cape Flattery to Olympia, having the most convenient anchorage over the greatest area, from 5 to 15 fathoms deep, with the best holding ground. There are no bars, shoals, rocks or hidden dangers of any kind throughout the entire bay, which is land locked and well sheltered from the stormy winds and from the heavy ocean swell.>

Reason 2: Ease of approach from tech ocean. A sailing vessel can run direct from tech ocean to the anchorage in Port Townsend Bay, with a westerly wind, or beat up to her anchorage with an easterly wind, the Straits of Fuca being over 12 miles wide, while above Port Townsend to any of the cities the navigation is more intricate, requiring the constant use of tugs. Steamers can run the distance from tech ocean to Port Townsend during the densest fogs by aid of their compass alone, there being no hidden danger to apprehend. 

Reason 3: It is the port of entry of Puget Sound, and its geographical position is such that it will afford greater facilities to commerce over a greater extend of country than any other position on Puget Sound. 

Reason 4: It is at the entrance to Admiralty Inlet and within the lines of the proposed military works for the defense of Puget Sound, and is where the naval squadron will have a rendezvous, and where the government will build a dry dock for repairs, and a naval station for supplies for our naval vessels and the merchant marine

Reason 5: It will become the great wheat shipping point on the Pacific Coast. it has been ascertained that from the junction of the Snake and Columbia Rivers to Port Townsend, there is a fall of about 400 feet, and that it is practically very nearly a level grade and that one engine can haul 25 loaded cars to Port Townsend, while it takes two engines to haul 14 loaded cars through the tunnel to Tacoma. The peninsula which lies between Port Townsend and Port Discovery harbors, presents on both these harbors a greater extent of waterfront than any other position on Puget Sound, both of which can be utilized by one line of railroad, thus offering greater facilities for handling vast quantities of wheat than can be found elsewhere in the whole country. 

Reason 6: It will be the headquarters and great point of transit of all the whaling fleet, which can here ship all their oil and bone to Eastern markets and save 700 miles of ocean travel, which they now have to take to transport these products to San Francisco.

Reason 7: It will be the headquarters of the flabbing business. The Union Pacific Railroad Co. state to the senate committee on relations with Canada who were here in 1889, that they intend putting in refrigerator cars to take fresh fish through on the long haul at greatly reduced rates, and will here ship all the salmon pack, as well as other fish products destined for the interior and Eastern market.

Reason 8: It is the point of departure for all passengers and freight to British Columbia and Alaska, and its unrivaled scenery makes it the admiration of all tourists who have ever visited Puget Sound.

Reason 9: It is the location on the smelting works of Irondale, on Port Townsend Bay, where the best charcoal iron known in the world is produced. A plant will be put up at these works by the company to manufacture steel plated for boilers and for building vessels, steel rails and all iron material required for railroad construction and every kind of iron for blacksmith use.

Reason 10: Port Townsend, by its geographical position, is intimately and directly connected with Portland, being due north, as can be seen on any map. The Willamette meridian, which commences in Portland as its initial point, terminates in Port Townsend bay, between Point Hudson and Marrowstene Point. The Port Townsend Southern railroad will soon connect the two cities, and Port Townsend will become in fact one of Portland's most important shipping points.

Reason 11: Because on the peninsula between Port Townsend and Port Discovery bays will be built within the very near future the most important city on the Pacific Coast, a city that will be fostered and developed by the Union Pacific railroad, which will here have its grand western terminus, from whence will proceed lines of great ocean steamships which will bring in the commerce of Asia and China and the South Seas.

Puget Sound

Seattle.Washington State.

SS Indianapolis was built by the Craig Shipyards at Toledo, Ohio in 1904. 765 tons, Length: 180' Beam: 32' Draft: 18' 6", Propulsion: triple-expansion steam engine, Horsepower: 1,500 Speed: 16 knots. The Indianapolis spent the last years of her life carrying cars from Edmonds to Port Townsend, Washington. With the arrival of the ferries from San Francisco, the Indianapolis, with her costly steam power plant was soon withdrawn from service.

June 17, 1869, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

Bark "Tidal Wave."

Puget Sound. Seattle. 1798. British Map.

The largest vessel ever constructed on the Pacific coast was recently launched at Port Madison, Puget Sound. She was built entirely of Puget Sound fir, by W. J. Bryant, for Meigs & Gawley. Her mold is nearly the same as that of the bark Northwest, recently built by the same parties, but is about thirty feet longer. She is named the Tidal Wave, is about 600 tons, and is commanded by Captain Reynolds, formerly of the bark Gold Hunter. She will carry about 750,000 feet of lumber. She has wire rigging, is single decked, and is in every respect a first class vessel. She is now loading lumber at the Port Madison mills, for this port.


August 12, 1897, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Klondike Still Holds Fast Its Victims In the Sound

SEATTLE, Wash., August 11. There is no abatement to the gold fever here. Nothing but Klondike is to be heard on all sides and if you attempt to reason with a man or woman, boy or girl, that it is downright foolishness to go into that region at this late season of the year you will not be listened to for a moment. You are told that Jim Humbug and Jack Bum, or some other character never known to any one but two or three boon companions, went in there a year or so ago and returned a "Baron Rothschild" in wealth. Because these men did so there is no reason under the sun why these going out should not fare as well or better.

On all sides you find the word Klondike. It is Klondike bonnets, hats, boots, shoes, suspenders, garters, hosiery; Klondike dinners, parties, steaks, chops, puddings; Klondike culinary utensils of every description, Klondike groceries. The very air one breathes seems to be impregnated with the Klondike microbe a very substantial one if you could but catch him. And the newspapers and merchants are as badly smitten with the "Klon" as the public. All sorts of yarns are flying around and where in the mischief they originate would puzzle a seer to say.

The immense influx of Easterners to Seattle has taxed every description of trade to the utmost. There need be no idle men in Seattle for many months to come, for all who are willing to work have no trouble in obtaining it.

On entering a tent factory today to look around I was asked if I was hunting for a job; if so I could start in right away. Unfortunately the sailors' needle is not my forte. Every jack tar who can cobble tents can secure all the employment he wants right in this burg.

Politeness is forgotten by the clerks in stores, and little time is wasted on you if you have not your mind made up before entering a store. The demand is "to great and so many want to be served in ; a rush that even the proprietors do not have time to wash their hands with imaginary soap or even welcome you with a smile. "Purchase or get out" appears to be the order of the day. There are hundreds waiting to be served, and as every one has money and expects to pay three prices for the articles required, no "bargain-counter" haggling goes in Seattle at the present moment. One large outfitting house here took in one afternoon last week $12,000 ready cash over the counters. Large as the sum appears one can credit it, judging from the immense number of strangers in the city bound for the Klondike. Some of the Klondikers carry sums from $1 up to $3000, and, as nearly all have fitted out here, the money put into circulation is hard to calculate.

One of the greatest attractions noted on the dock to-day were a couple of remarkably fine shorthorn oxen, which have been trained to pack. Their owner goes with them, and is to employ them packing outfits between the landing at Dyea and the headwaters of the Yukon. Already enough of employment has been booked to keep the oxen going for several weeks, and at a price which will swell their boss' pocketbook. Many of those who purchased cayuses concluded, after seeing the oxen, that it would have been more profitable had they done likewise. Having got their outfits to navigation, and built their boats, the animals could have been turned into juicy steaks or sundried beef.

Every one bound to Klondike is kicking at the high freight rates, but apparently all gladly pay them. On the barges the owners of horses had to pay $25 a head and $11 a ton for hay (40 feet going to the ton), while oats were taken at $20.50, a ton.

But what foolish people are the Eastern folk! To go from Chicago to San Francisco by train costs about $61; a second class passage to Dyea $28, a total of $31. From Chicago to Seattle by train is $72.50, a second-class passage by steamer to Dyea $22.50, a total of $94.50. Any one can see the saving. Again, in San Francisco one has an opportunity of choosing his steamer and getting his berth. Here, he takes what he can get, and very often has to await his opportunity.

J. C. Campbell.


Indianapolis, a 180 foot steamer built in 1904 by the Craig Shipyards at Toledo, Ohio. Her trip around the horn in 1905-06 was one of the shortest journeys--54 days total, a record, but the trip was far from uneventful. A mutiny nearly took place, a scuffle which resulted in Captain Johnson receiving a black eye which was still in evidence when the vessel pulled into Seattle on 10 February, 1906.

Black Ball announced that the ship was to be renamed Crescent but they never got around to it. After a brief refit, the Indianapolis went to work in competition with the veteran steamer Flyer on the Seattle-Tacoma run. The rivalry between the Flyer and the Indianapolis was long-standing.

Despite Black Ball's strict policy against racing, there was one midnight race between the two steamers. The Flyer, in her efforts, burst one of her boilers; still, even with a 4 minute lead she passed her rival and pulled into Tacoma well ahead of the Indianapolis. "Come fly on the Flyer" was not just a company boast, it was now an established fact. Black Ball was not pleased. With over 285 people aboard, and the loss of the Clallam still fresh on their minds, they released a scathing statement reprimanding both the crew and captain of the Indianapolis. The rivals never raced again. There was still a matter of pride involved in running the big steamer.

The Indianapolis tried very hard to maintain the Flyer's schedule. To do so, she had to run at full steam, creating a wake, according to author Gordon Newell in the fine book Pacific Steamboats that "would have done credit to the Mauretania. The waves of her passing upset scow-loads of lumber, tore small boats loose from their moorings and wrecked houseboats."

The rivalry ended in 1911 when Black Ball found a simpler solution: the company purchased the Flyer. Like most of the other Black Ball steamers, the Indianapolis eventually found herself unprofitable as a passenger steamer. She was removed from the Seattle-Tacoma run in 1930. Black Ball hauled her into the yard and converted her to carry autos on the Edmonds-Port Townsend run.


Washington.Steamer at Dock, Tacoma, Washington

Situated above Commencement Bay on bluffs that were home to the Puyallup Tribe and other native peoples for millennia, the county seat of Pierce County possesses a natural harbor that was admired by the sound's earliest Euro-American explorers. In 1873 the Northern Pacific Railroad selected it as its western terminus which helped established the community as a regional center for Pacific Rim shipping, forest products, and arts.

Picturing the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: The Photographs of Frank H. NowellWashington, Native Americans, Sea Captains.

Alaska Yukon Pacific ExpositionHeld during the summer of 1909, was the first world's fair held in Seattle. Capitalizing on the popularity of the booming gold rush, the exposition was designed to showcase the riches of the Pacific Northwest and highlight trade with the Pacific Rim nations and beyond.

Millions of visitors came to Seattle to experience the one-of-a-kind attractions, exhibits, and events held during the AY PE, which became the footprint for the modern University of Washington campus. Many of these visitors stayed to populate the growing metropolis. From the ornate European-style architecture to the fountains and gardens, the amusements of the Pay Streak, and the exotic Oriental exhibits, the AYPE entertained and educated while bringing needed business to Washington State.

Great Northern Dock. Seattle.
Great Northern dock view, SS Dakota and Minnesota
Seattle, Washington

Washington.Washington, Native Americans, Sea Captains.
Spirit of the First People: 
Native American Music Traditions of Washington State
Washington, Native Americans, Sea Captains. 
Willie Smyth

Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest
Linda Carlson
University of Washington Press
"Company town" evoke images of rough-and-tumble loggers and gritty miners, of dreary shacks in isolated villages, of wages paid in scrip good only at price-gouging company stores, of paternalistic employers. But these stereotypes are out-dated, especially for those company towns that flourished well into the twentieth century. In "Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Linda Carlson provides a more balanced and realistic look at these "intentional communities." Many of the later towns attracted professionals as well as laborers; houses were likely to be clapboard Victorians or shingled bungalows; and the mercantile store carried work boots, baby diapers, and Buicks and extended credit even to striking workers. Company owners built schools, power plants, and movie theaters. Drawing from residents' reminiscences, contemporary newspaper accounts, company newsletters and histories, census and school records, and site plans, the book looks at towns in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, considering who planned the towns and designed the buildings. It examines how companies went about controlling housing, religion, taxes, liquor, prostitution, and union organizers. It tells what happened when people left--when they lost their jobs, when the family breadwinner died or was disabled, when mills closed.

Washington State.Washington, Native Americans, Sea Captains. Northwest Coast Native and Native-Style Art: A Guidebook for Western WashingtonWashington, Native Americans, Sea Captains. 
Lloyd J. Averill

Mapmaker's Eye.Mapmakers.

The Mapmaker's Eye
David Thompson on the Columbia PlateauMapmakers.

Jack Nisbet
David Thompson was a fur trader, explorer, and meticulous geographic surveyor. He was, and is, the English and Canadian counterpart of Lewis and Clark. He visited the Mandan villages on the Missouri River in 1798. He crossed the Continental Divide in 1807 and spent five winters on the west side of the divide trading with the Indians. He explored the Columbia River from its origin to the Pacific Ocean. He kept complete journals. He was a better writer than Meriwether Lewis, although not Lewis' equal as a naturalist. He took astronomical readings and did his own computations of both latitude and longitude. Because of this, his maps were much more accurate than those of William Clark. Later in his life, Thompson helped survey the boundary between Canada and the United States.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Sea Captains, Ships, Merchants, Merchandise, Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.


Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California.

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