"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

About Us

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San Juan Islands, 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 500, 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.

22 May 2018

❖ "GLACIER PRIEST" EXPLORER with a heart for ALASKA ❖

AMELIE, 1933.
224429
Built at Pt. Blakely, WA in 1925 as a tender for
Sunny Point Packing Co.
81.1' x 18.7' x 8.8', 99 G.t. 67 N.t.
165 HP.
Then she went exploring with the
Father Bernard Hubbard expeditions in Alaska.
Click image to enlarge.
She is in documentation in 2018 at Ketchikan.

AP photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.©

Text with this photo states, "Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J., famous 'Glacier Priest,' led an exploration party through the wild and remote regions of the Alaska Peninsula last summer, checking geological changes in the volcanic region and discovering a new harbor in the crater of Bogoslov, a marine volcano known as "the Disappearing Island of the Bering Sea." When his ship AMELIE visited the harbor it was the first time a ship had ever entered the crater of a volcano, Father Hubbard said. The exploration party returned to Seattle on 9 October 1933, after taking 100,000 feet of motion picture film, much of which was 'shot' in spots never before seen by human eyes. The party spent six months in the region known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes."

Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J.
1888-1962
courtesy of Santa Cruz University.
Hubbards's King Island Expedition:
In 1937 and 1938 Father Hubbard lived on King Island with his boats, dogs, expedition members, and more than 100 tons of supplies and equipment. During this expedition, he continued his glacier research and captured the King Island people on film. The King Islanders took him on a 2,000-mile open-water by umiak in his attempt to prove that the Eskimos, from Nome to Barter Island, shared a common language.
      Hubbard's arrival on the Island had an impact on the community. Among his supplies were powerful electric generators and engines to power his moving picture equipment and light the hall he constructed to show his films, as well as to give power to other parts of the village. He constructed buildings for the villagers and introduced oil burning stoves to replace the dirtier and less efficient coal-burning units they had been using.
      Hubbard made several long documentary films and took thousands of still pictures of almost every aspect of King Island life, including native funerals and the celebration dance of success at bear hunting. Bogojaviensky and Robert W. Fuller, who published a number of Hubbard's still photographs in 1973 in Polar Bears, Walrus Hides, and Social Solidarity, praised their high quality. "The ethnographic and historical significance of these photographs is enormous––To our knowledge, there exists no comparable photographic record of an aboriginal sovereign state in all of Arctic ethnology."
      Hubbard's stay on the island generated controversy. After his party left, Joseph McElmeel, the General Superior of the Alaska mission, wrote "Just at present Father Lafortune has the task of overcoming the bad influence of the Hubbard party on the island last winter. The seculars with Father Hubbard should never have been taken there. Father Hubbard has admitted to me that he can no longer control them as he used to. Even non-Catholics in Nome spoke to me about the danger that the King Islanders would be affected by the stay of the Hubbard party. The too frequent moving pictures developed a craze for pictures in the Islanders. On their visit to Nome this summer it was observed by seculars that they were no longer as simple as they used to be. Father Hubbard is a hard-working man, but he should not be permitted to come to the missions with the type of men he brought this year." The accusations, however, apparently were not very serious because Hubbard and four others, including Edgar Levin, were welcomed back in the summer of 1940 for more photographic work, and to make further improvements to the village." Santa Clara University archives.

      "One of the more colorful personalities of former years was Fr. Bernard Hubbard, S.J., the 'Glacier Priest.' He came to Santa Clara in 1926 and was assigned to teach mineralogy and geology but his heart was not in the classroom. It was in Alaska. There he explored volcanoes in the Aleutians and, for some months, lived among and studied the culture of the King Islanders. Each summer he enlisted a few friends to join him in these expeditions. Finally, in 1995 a stroke limited his activity but did not discourage him from his annual trip to AK. When at Santa Clara he spent his time editing films and preparing for his popular lecture tours.
      Financial help came from his lectures, friends, and advertisements which he inserted in his motion pictures. Some advertisers also gave him fishing gear, rowboats, camping equipment, cameras, and film.
      In some respects, he was like a little boy. He had a charm and an uncanny way of wresting permissions from his religious superiors. Because he didn't drive a car he appointed me to drive his Chrysler station wagon. Once we stopped at a fruit stand and he drank so much cider that he had to stay at home near a bathroom the next day. But once he decided to drive to the campus of Montezuma school in the Santa Cruz mountains. A 'No trespassing' sign was posted but he told me to ignore it. We were promptly stopped. To persuade the guard to allow us to enter, he informed him that he was Father Hubbard. The guard replied that he had never heard of him. We later enjoyed a good laugh and never allowed Father to forget this. Toward the end of his life, he received a Christmas card from a local mortician. He laughed and said: 'Those buzzards are really waiting for me!' Fr. Hubbard remains in my memory as a good friend, a unique personality and a man with an undying love for Alaska." Carl H. Hayn, S.J., Professor of Physics. 1962.

For further study, please see The Legacy of the "Glacier Priest," Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J. Scarborough, C.M. and D. Kingston. Santa Clara Univ. Dept of Anthropology and Sociology. 2001. LINK


20 May 2018

❖ ABLE SEAMAN A HERO IN THE COLD ALEUTIANS ❖

EDDIE BLOMBERG
The able seaman from the
American Mail Line's  President Madison,
who swam a line ashore to the rocky
 shore of Amatignak, AK to rescue
 3 survivors of the wreck of
the freighter SS NEVADA.
He is shown after arriving Seattle,
8 October 1932.

Photo by Acme News
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Heroes of a North Pacific disaster from
the PRESIDENT MADISON.
This photo shows members of the lifeboat crew who rescued
James Thorsen, Lucena Decaney & Fritz Dewall,
survivors of the freighter NEVADA.
The liner PRESIDENT MADISON
arrived in Seattle, 5 Oct. 1932.
The third officer, E.J. Stull who commanded the lifeboat,
is seen standing in uniform.
Eddie Blomberg is seen in the center of the back row
without a life preserver.

Click image to enlarge.
Photo by Acme News

from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

The American Mail Liner PRESIDENT MADISON arrived in Seattle on 5 October 1932 with three survivors and the lifeboat crew who rescued James Thorsen, Lucena Decaney, and Fritz Dewall. They were the only survivors of the ill-fated freighter NEVADA, wrecked on the rocky shores of Amatignak Island in the Aleutians. Thirty-four were lost.
      The steel steam screw NEVADA, Master T. W. Johanson had stranded at Amatignak, AK. She departed Longview, WA, 15 Sept. 1932 bound Yokohama, Japan. Carrying a 6,648-ton cargo of lumber, flour, and general merchandise. 
      SS OREGON MARU responded to radio distress signal; proceeded to wreck but the seas prevented the rescue of men who had washed ashore. SS PRESIDENT MADISON arrived 29 Sept and rescued 3 crew members from Amatignak Island. The USCG HAIDA arrived on scene 4 Oct. and continued the search of vicinity without results. The NEVADA and cargo were total losses. Value of cargo unknown. Vessel value was $255,000.

S.S. NEVADA (219522)
Lost, 27 September 1932
Location, 51 16 N 179 06 W
Chart, 16460
Tonnage, 5,645 G. 3517 N. 
Age, 12 yrs.
Owner, States Steamship Co of Portland

Source, USCG Report 18 October 1932 at Portland, OR;
AlaskaShipwreck.com; and Saltwater People Historical Society.

16 May 2018

❖ ROVER OF THE SEA ❖ FIVE MASTED SNOW & BURGESS ❖

SNOW & BURGESS
115616
Built at Thomaston, ME. 1878
by Thomas Watts.
Date of photo unknown.
Originally a full-rigged ship, then a bark, and finally rerigged as a 5-masted schooner, long in Pacific Coast lumber and coal trades.
SNOW & BURGESS
5-masted schooner.
Date estimate by UW of c. 1900.
Location: Port Blakely, WA.
Under Capt. P. Martensen.

Photo by Wilhelm Hester
from the U of W Collections.



1902, 5 September: Capt A. H. Sorenson and wife Marie welcomed a baby girl, Burgess in the middle of the Pacific hundreds of miles west of Central America.
1904: 
"Ship at San Pedro.
The five-masted schooner SNOW & BURGESS arrived in port late this evening and dropped her anchor in the outer harbor, just off the end of the government breakwater. The arrival of this vessel is of particular note from the fact that she is the only five-master ever entering the port. The SNOW & BURGESS has had a varied and interesting career, such a history as few vessels can boast. Built in 1878, she was full-rigged ship and for fifteen years sailed the seas and visited nearly every port of importance on the globe. For ten years, or until 1903, this barque was under canvass; then she was brought into San Francisco and transferred to her present owner, J. L. Larsen, and was placed on the dry dock at Boole's shipyard. Her rig was again changed, her cabins were rebuilt, and she was turned out of the shops, good as new, and one of the first five masters ever floated. She is 228' long, 41' beam and 24.7' depth of hold. Her tonnage total net is 1548 tons. She carries approximately two million feet of lumber." From the Los Angeles Herald
SNOW & BURGESS
Text verso: 1911
Crossing the Columbia River Bar.

2 photos from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

1922: Capt. Dan "Black" Martin was her last skipper. On her last voyage home from Manilla, she was badly hogged and leaked constantly. She had lumber lashing chains around her stern, set up with turnbuckles to keep her together. She did not sail again but was sold for $3,000, despite her appraisal of $200,000 during the shipping boom 2 years earlier. She was burned on the beach at Pt. Townsend. According to the H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, edited by Gordon Newell, H. W. McCurdy was involved in the scrapping and her bell was subsequently saved for his yacht.

11 May 2018

❖ Tugboater CAPT. MARK FREEMAN and his lottery ticket ❖

1982
Washington State's First $1 million Lottery

Captain Mark H. Freeman
Freemont Tugster

b. 15 Mar. 1934, Lake Union
d. 26 Jan. 2017, Seattle, WA.
Photo date, 12 Dec. 1982
by Matt McVay
low res scan of an original photo from
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

click image to enlarge.

"Charles E. Davis, a machinist who's been unemployed since June, was hurting for the money.
      Mark Freeman, the owner of a tugboat company and lots of pricey Lake Union moorage, wasn't.
      The two illustrated the spread between the poor and the rich among the 10 finalists for the first $1 million WA. state lottery drawing next Friday.
      The 10––a mix of Washingtonians that ranged from a nurse to a smelter superintendent to a truck driver––beat out 6,190 other $100 instant-lottery winners who were competing in yesterday's semi-final draw for the Big Win.
      Saturday is Mark Freeman's day for working on his tugboats, and he was out early at Lake Union, dressed in his thick work boots, jeans, flannel shirt and the 'loggers'  suspenders sporting a 'Ballard Bridge Passport––Copenhagen Snuff' button.
      But instead of working, he spent the day posing for news photographers, enjoying good-natured barbs aimed his way by customers and friends who dropped by the Northlake Way tugboat office and gloating.
      Freeman owns moorage for 90 pleasure and commercial craft, and moorage off Fairview and Westlake for 65 houseboats, as well as five tugboats.
      Being a finalist means he has won at least $10,000. If he gets second place in the drawing it's $50,000.
      'I'm not wealthy,' he protested. His company property 'just means you've got a lot of hard work keeping all that together.'
      Besides, he says, he probably works more than just about anyone. 'We open at 6 every morning and shut down at 10 at night. I'm here for a good share of that.'
      His tugboat company office is filled with photographs and memorabilia of boats, newspaper clippings of tugboat races he has competed in.
      The $10,000 will go into fixing up the tugboats, Freeman said. If he wins the $1 million, he said, he's got his eye on a sweet little tugboat.
      'I wouldn't change my style of living or anything else. I'm having a good time––especially today,' he said. It's not every day you win $10,000. Usually, you've got to work your a__ off.'
      He'll continue to live in his Lake Union houseboat, commuting to work in his mini-tugboat 'Barf...'
      There were nine other people who had chances to be a millionaire in this draw. They were, C.P. Oefler, Jana D. Page, Christa Maiuri, Warren Harvey, Phyllis D. O'Hair, Darleen J. Garwood, Charles Davis, Robert Swanson, Clyde Overman."
Carey Quan Gelernter & William Gough. The Seattle Times

      The next week the drawing was made. The million dollar winner was the registered nurse, Jana D. Page, making about $15,000 per year and had just had surgery to remove half her kidney.
      The famous mariner, Capt. Mark Freeman, was in second place to take home $50,000.
For a glimpse of Capt. Freeman steaming along click HERE


30 April 2018

❖ SIX GENERATIONS OF REEFNETTING IN THE SAN JUANS ❖

1978

Charles Chevalier snapped the starting cord on his outboard motor.
      "It looks like a great day for fishing," he said.
      At 10:00 AM, the sun was already bright in the clear blue sky over the San Juan Islands and a light breeze ruffled the water.
Fisherman Charles Chevalier
Photo by the late great Josef Scaylea.
Date stamped verso 1978

Original print from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

      Charles Chevalier is a part-Indian, sixth-generation reefnetter. His comment about the fish conditions was based partly on instinct, inner knowledge. It proved to be accurate.
      A grebe, floating in front of him, took a dive deep into the water to avoid Charles' boat as it headed out of Friday Harbor around the bay bound for Stuart Island. Chevalier was in a hurry. He wished to meet his crew at the reefnet site well before high tide at noon.
      Though bare-foot, Charles had tossed his tennis shoes into the seat in front of him, together with a light jacket and a sack lunch. He would not be home until dinner, and the late afternoon wind on the cold waters of the San Juans could be chilly.
      Charles passed a few gillnetters coming in late from their night's fishing off the salmon banks. Purse seiners, their huge nets wrapped around hydraulic drums, beat past him.
      And all around him, first in one direction and then the other, a quick eye could catch the flash of silver spray as the beautiful sockeye jumped out of the water to take a look around.
      Stuart, the most westerly of the San Juan Islands, is close to the Canadian boundary. Here off a kelp bed near the entrance to Reid Harbor, Charles came upon his reefnet rafts. His crew was already there cleaning drift out of the lines.
      This reefnet location has been fished continuously by members of Charles family for six generations. It is licensed by the State––one of 71 stationary sites still being fished commercially in Puget Sound waters. [1978]
      Reefnet gear includes two canoes or rafts anchored parallel to each other 200' from shore in a spot where the ebb tide and floodtide currents will carry salmon into the 50' square net spread between the canoes or rafts.
      Setting out the net was the job Charles and his crew set about doing. The net was heavy; its four-inch mesh had been dipped in black tar so that the fish wouldn't 'tangle up in it.'
      The crew pulled one side of the net tightly between two rafts, the line stretched taut on the surface of the water. The opposite side of the net, secured to anchor lines, was held down in the water by weights.
      A few salmon, running ahead of the tide, evaded Charles' net. The current was not yet strong enough to make the net 'bag back.'
      "Fish traps blocked most of the reefnet sites by 1890, and many of the native owners of the locations were forced out. But in 1934 fish traps were outlawed and some of the old locations were reclaimed.
      Our spot at Stuart has been fished continuously for as many years as we can search back. I've fished it myself since I was 12––some 35 years."
      "Grandpa Bill Chevalier and his partner, Al Drouillard, started fishing this site in 1905," Marge went on. "Grandpa made a ceremony out of setting the anchors for the nets.
      He would pick the huge rocks carefully for their shape, wrap cedar-branch cables around them, lash them to the canoe and wait for the tides to float the rocks to the reefnet location."
      Charles' father, Alfred Chevalier, and his uncle Louie (like their ancestors) used to 'call' fish to the net. They learned the call from Charles' Great-Great Uncle Ned, a medicine man.

Marge Chevalier Workman
Cousin to Charles Chevalier.
Photo by Josef Scaylea.
Original print from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Charles and Marge also occasionally use the call to coax fish into their nets and describe it as a soft, rather high-pitched cry not unlike that of an owl.
      "You have to feel it, they say. You have to be in tune with the fish. It's almost a spiritual thing."
      Traditionally, the first salmon caught is accorded special respect.
      "In days long ago," Charles says, "our people believed that the salmon had come to feed the people with their own flesh. So the first sockeye of the season (sockeye being the most powerful of all fish) received the special rite."
      Charles and Marge recall that no one would ever step across the first fish caught and that as the fish was cut, people would give thanks for the survival of the fish and the related survival of the people.
      Marge's father, Bill Chevalier, who is 81 and still living on San Juan Island, followed another custom which may have been unique to the area. He always took his first salmon of the season and laid it out for the yellow jackets, knowing that when there were lots of yellow jackets, there were also good salmon runs.
      Although Marge and Charles, being three-eighths and one-fourth Indian, respectively, no longer follow many of the ceremonies of their Indian ancestors, they say that descendants of the tribe on San Juan Island would like to get together and teach their children the traditions they've learned.
      But it was time to go back to work.
      Chugging down Speiden Channel was the 50' fish packer PRIMO, skippered by Clarence Meads. Clarence is the fish buyer for Whitney-Fidalgo at Anacortes, and it is he who makes the rounds of the reefnet positions daily during sockeye season.
      He maneuvered the PRIMO close to the rafts and the crew put off the salmon, using dip nets called 'brailers' to throw them aboard the fish packer for weighing.
      Clarence passed down a fish ticket indicating how much money would be credited to Charles for his day's catch.
      Is reefnetting a profitable venture? Both Marge and Charles laughed.
      "It varies," they agreed.
      "I remember one year," Marge said, "when I made $25 total. It was during WW II when all the boys were in the service. Grandpa asked me to come on up to Stuart and help him fish.
      Financially, no, it wasn't rewarding, but I love these islands and I love being here."
      Marge was born on Waldron Island, lived on John's Island and went to school on Stuart, rowing across the bay and walking three miles through the woods to the little one-room schoolhouse. She played on Henry Island and visited her grandmother often on Speiden Island, which the family owned.
      In the late afternoon sunshine, rocking gently on the reefnet raft, the two cousins reminisced.
      They remembered their grandmother's cousin Sara who used to fish from a canoe with a three-pronged spear.
      They repeated tales told to them of their great-great-grandmother who was from the Songish tribe and lived to be almost 100 years old in a little cedar-shake shed on the north end of Speiden Island. She always sat on a little box by her fire in the shed, never wore shoes and never learned to speak English.
      Their great-grandfather, Robert Smith, was a British marine stationed at English Camp on San Juan Island during the Pig War. He bought his way out of the Marines for $20 and married the old Granny's daughter, Lucy, establishing a homestead there that would be occupied by the family for many years.
      The Smith's daughter, Mary, (Charles and Marge's grandmother) was a beautiful woman who married Ed Chevalier, and together they 'ruled' for many years what became known as their 'island kingdom.'
      According to the book, Pig War Islands, Ed and Mary Chevalier were as widely known and loved as anyone in the San Juans. With their family of five children, they raised turkeys for market, tended a fruit orchard, grew all their own produce, kept sheep and horses, milked two cows, logged and cut wood. In addition, Ed built boats and held down a full-time job at Roche Harbor, rowing the two miles or so to work and back each day in fair weather or storm.
      He also fished commercially, and did so well at developing the technique that 'islanders looked on him as the local father of reefnet fishing.'
      "Grandmother," Marge says, passed down many of the Indian ways to our generation.
      She had regal bearing and a very gracious manner. I remember Sam Buck, Sr.. saying that he would like to take her to WA, DC, to present her to the President. She knew so much about the history of these islands."
      A maternal great-uncle of Marge's, Prosper Graignic, was "reputedly the most successful rum-runner on the Puget Sound." His father was a French sailor who jumped ship in Victoria in the 18870s, marrying an Indian girl from LaConner and settling on Waldron. "The large family they reared on Waldron grew up, it would seem, with sea water instead of blood in their veins. One of Prosper's brothers is said to have sailed the family sloop to Victoria and back at the age of 7. Another, although deaf, earned his way as a fisherman. His knowledge of local tides and currents is described by island people as uncanny. Even the girls in the family learned, early on, to be as much at home afloat as on dry land."
      While they were talking, Charles had pulled the reefnet out of the water and stowed it away, tying it down, and securing the lines.
      Their day's work was over now, in their ancestors' "gentle way to fish."
Above text was written by Patricia Latourette Lucas
For The Seattle-Times, 1978.

Charles R. Chevalier (1930-2015)





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