(click to enlarge photos)
The Galbraith Bacon dock, like most others built on the Seattle waterfront after 1900, was positioned at a slant off Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) for two sensible reasons. First, such a dock allowed railroad spurs an easier angle for reaching the aprons to the sides of the wharves. Second, at such a slant the end of a long dock was closer to shore and so did not require unnecessarily long piles to support it.
Having dealt feed on the waterfront since 1891, James Galbraith was the ‘old timer’ in this partnership. Cecil Bacon, a chemical engineer with some extra capital, arrived in Seattle in 1899. Deep pockets helped Bacon persuade Galbraith to make a bigger business with him by adding building materials, like lime and concrete, to the established partner’s hay and feed. In 1900, they were the first signature tenants in the Northern Pacific Railroad’s newly constructed finger pier No. 3 (now 54) at the foot of Madison Street. The partners prospered and soon added to their enterprise this pier at the foot of Wall Street.
Although I like the featured photograph at the top for how it upsets our prepossession with the picturesque – I mean, of course, the askew yards on the sailing ship and its splotched starboard side – I neither know why the square-rigged Montcalm was tied to the Wall Street pier, nor which Montcalm it was. Many ships bear the name, and probably all were named for Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who until he was hit with an English musket ball in the Battle of Quebec, was New France’s Commander-in-Chief during its French and Indian War with the British in the 1750s.
For some clue on the Montcalm’s condition I turned to Scott Rohrer, an old friend who is also celebrated hereabouts for his sailing and understanding of maritime history. Scott tersely answered, “She’s steel and her crew is scaling and chipping her hull for primer and repainting after a long, apparently rough voyage.”
The Wall Street pier, about the size of a football field, was replaced in the early 1960s with what the waterfront long wanted: a big hotel. First sketches of the Edgewater show it as the Camelot Inn. The Edgewater is perhaps best known for the visiting Beatles, of whom the now common fish tale is told that they followed the instructions written on the waterfront side of the hotel and fished from their window. We suspect that a trolling of the bottom might still catch some paint chips fallen a century ago from the worn sides of the Montcalm.
Anything to add, Paul? Certainly, and beginning again with Ron Edge’s selection of links to other features we have had swimming in the Pacific in the past. Ron has also put up the cover to our illustrated history of the waterfront. I suspect that if it is clicked then several chapter choices will appear. We remind the reader that this Waterfront History is always available in toto on this blog. And was also propose again that when in doubt or squinting that readers should click twice and sometimes thrice.
THE WATERFRONT FIRE OF 1910 – at the FOOT OF WALL STREET
RAILROAD AVENUE LOOKING NORTH FROM WALL STREET
QUIZ – SELF-CONFIDENCE WILL BE REWARDED TO THE READER WHO CAN REVEAL FROM WHAT THE HISTORICAL PHOTO BELOW WAS RECORDED.
4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Wall Street Pier”
I am only aware of one Montcalm that was a barque-rigged sailing vessel. That is the Montcalm of 1902, 2,315 tons built at Nantes, France, which was used in around Cape Horn service by La Societe des Voiliers Nantais. The vessel was broken up in the Netherlands in 1924.
A list of her fleetmates and a photo of her sister-ship Amiral Courbet may be seen here: http://voiliersnantais.free.fr/HTML/page006.html
Jean Sherrard here. Thanks for your fascinating research. The photo of the ‘Montcalm’ can also be found (thanks for the link, Douglas Stewart!) at the UW Collection as well. Might their details be wrong?
From what I can tell, the UW Collection’s information must be incorrect. There was an Alma-class armored corvette named Montcalm started for the French Navy in 1865 and completed in 1869. However, that vessel never left Cherbourg after 1884, and was condemned and broken up in 1891. It’s appearance was also radically different, notably due to a ram bow. More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma-class_ironclad
How to explain the name on the side of the ship?