The Maritime Heritage Project

World Harbors from The Maritime Heritage Project in San Francisco.

Seaports of the World




United States: Washington

° Fort Colville ° Hoaquiam ° Port Angeles ° Port Blakely ° Port Townsend ° Seattle

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.

Quality reprints available by clicking on images.
Native Americans paddling canoes to a trading ship
on the Pacific Northwest Coast.

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 Brothers Shipyard was constructed near the Port Blakely Mill in 1881, the S.S. Julia — the largest sternwheeler in the Northwest — was built, along with scores of schooners and other craft.

Port Townsend

The Morning Oregonian, Thursday, April 3, 1890
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

Prints of the lumber vessel available by clicking on the image.
Loading Lumber Onto Ships in Puget Sound
Washington State. c 1880

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.

Historical image of ships at dock in Seattle, Washington.
Ocean Faring Ships Dock in Seattle's Harbor
Lake Union
Clifton R. Adams

Puget Sound

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Loading Lumber Onto Ships in Puget Sound
Washington. c.1880

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.

SS Indianapolis at Puget Sound.
Puget Sound, Washington - SS Indianapolis

Sacramento Daily Union, June 17, 1869

Bark "Tidal Wave."— 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. Sbe 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.

Seattle

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Puget Sound, Washington - SS Indianapolis
The Indianapolis, a 180 foot steamer built in 1904 by the Craig Shipyards a tToledo, 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 stirct 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.

Picturing the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition:

Alaska Yukon Pacific ExpositionThe Photographs of Frank H. NowellShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

Held 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.

Seattle (Postcard History)Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

Seattle. The Puget Sound region was inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years before settlers arrived. After initially landing at Alki Beach in West Seattle, the Denny Party established a settlement on the eastern shores of Elliott Bay in 1852. For years, the cultural and commercial life centered around Yesler''s Wharf and Sawmill.

The city grew rapidly following the 1870s after the discovery of coal in the Cascade foothills. The entire commercial district was incinerated in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, but it was quickly rebuilt out of enduring brick and stone. The city stumbled economically following the Panic of 1893, but it recovered after the Klondike Gold Rush began in 1897. By the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle was the undisputed leader in the Pacific Northwest.

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

Tacoma

Steamer at dock in Tacoma Washington historical print.
Steamer at Dock, Tacoma, Washington

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Recommended Reading

Note: If you are unable to find the books suggested at your local bookstore, consider links provided to Amazon.com or AbeBooks, both of which have proven to be reliable
on service and delivery

Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Company Towns of the Pacific NorthwestShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
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.

Puget Sound.
Tall Ships on Puget Sound
(Images of America)
Puget Sound.
Chuck Fowler
(Images of America)

Pacific Northwest.
America Discovered:
A Historical Atlas of North American Exploration
Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Derek Hayes

Vashon-Maury Island
(Images of America)
Vashon Maury Island.
Bruce Haulman
Vashon-Maury Island lies between Seattle and Tacoma and is connected to the mainland by the Washington State Ferries. Like other Puget Sound islands, its original economy was based on logging, fishing, brick-making, and agriculture, especially its strawberries. Island industries included the largest dry dock on the West Coast, shipbuilding, and ski manufacturing. Distinct from the other islands, Vashon-Maury is the only one whose major town is not on the water. Originally inhabited for thousands of years by the S'Homamish people, the island's first white settler arrived in 1865. Today, 145 years later, the population is more than 11,000.

Foss Maritime Company.
Foss Maritime Company
(WA) (Images of America)
Washington Maritime.
Mike Stork

Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Historical Atlas of the Pacific Northwest: Maps of Exploration and Discovery: British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, YukonShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Derek Hayes.

Orcas Island (WA)
(Images of America)
Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Orcas Island, the largest of the 172 islands in San Juan County, lies in the Salish Sea north of Puget Sound. Known as the "Gem of the San Juans" for her shimmering emerald hills bounded by 125 miles of rocky, tree-lined shore, Orcas was home to countless generations of Native Americans before the arrival of its first white settlers, formerly Hudson's Bay men who had hunted on the island, in the late 1850s. An international boundary dispute, popularly known as the Pig War, prevented early pioneers from settling land claims until the dispute was resolved by the German kaiser in 1872. Settlement grew slowly until improved steamship routes and increased commerce brought more tourists to the island.

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.

A Selection of Books About the Sea
Battle At Sea.
Battle at Sea and
3,000 Years of Naval History
R. G. Grant
Battle at Sea.

The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World.
The Sea and Civilization:
A Maritime History of the World
The Sea and Civilization.

Lincoln Paine

David Barrie Sextant.
Sextant:
A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans
Sextant.
David Barrie

First Migrants, Peter Bellwood.
First Migrants:
Ancient Migration in Global Perspective
First Migrants.
Peter Bellwood

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