Seattle Now & Then: Baker’s Dock aka The Ecclefechan

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking south from the Schwabacher Wharf to the Baker Dock and along the Seattle waterfront rebuilt following the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: Looking south from the Schwabacher Wharf to the Baker Dock and along the Seattle waterfront rebuilt following the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
Following its collapse during an 1982 storm, the Baker's wharf was rebuilt longer as the Arlington Pier. This view, like the one above it, also looks south from the Schwabacher Pier.
Following its collapse during an 1892 storm, the Baker’s wharf was rebuilt longer as the Arlington Pier. This view, like the one above it, looks south from the Schwabacher Pier.
NOW: Jean Sherrard also looks south, but from the Pike Street Wharf, and across the open water of Seattle’s Waterfront Park and a twilight that reaches from the container cranes on Harbor Island, on the right, to the Smith Tower on the left.
NOW: Jean Sherrard also looks south, but from the Pike Street Wharf, and across the open water of Seattle’s Waterfront Park and a twilight that reaches from the container cranes on Harbor Island, on the right, to the Smith Tower on the left.

We may thank Jean Sherrard, the weekly provider of our “nows,” for finding and deciphering the name of the long ship posing here, the sizable four-masted Ecclefechan.  The name is attached to the bow on the far right, where it quarter-hides behind the ship’s anchor and its shadows. (To repeat his sleuthing you will need an enlarged print

ecclefechan whisky grab

and a magnifying glass.)  The Ecclefechan was named for a Scottish village about eight miles northwest of the border between Scotland and England and as close to the Irish Sea.  The town modestly thrived for two-hundred-plus years as a stop for stagecoaches on the six-day, 400-mile-ride between Glasgow and London.  (It now takes four hours and a few minutes by train.)

Thomas Carlyle, born and buried in Ecclefechan.
Thomas Carlyle, born and buried in Ecclefechan.

On February 5, 1881, when plans for the Ecclefechan were underway in a Port Glasgow shipyard, Thomas Carlyle, the favorite son of Ecclefechan, died.  As “the first man of English letters,” Carlyle had been offered a burial at Westminster Abby, but he declined in favor of a gravesite beside his parents in the churchyard of the town where he was born in 1795.  One description of the ship notes that a sculpted figurehead of Carlyle was fitted on its bow. It seems possible, or perhaps likely, that Thomas G. Guthrie, the ship’s first owner, was an admirer of the author. 

The Ecclefechan was short-lived.  On February 23, 1900, filled with 15,000 bales of Indian jute, the classified barque ran upon Skateraw Rocks about fifty miles short of Dundee, its port-of-call on the east coast of Scotland.  Although the ship broke in half, its cargo was saved.

A mid-1890s look at the Pike (left) and Schwabacher (right) piers side-by-side, but not of the Baker/Arlington dock, which is off-frame to the right. (Courtesy, Ron Edge.)
A mid-1890s look at the Pike (left) and Schwabacher (right) piers side-by-side, but not of the Baker/Arlington dock, which is off-frame to the right.  (Courtesy, Ron Edge.)
 This rare record looks north on the two railroad trestles - the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern on the left and the Ram's Horn, on the right, that survived from this point north the city's Great Fire of June 6, 1889, with the splashing work of bucket lines. The Schwabacher Wharf seen here, thereby survived to serve in the early rebuilding of the ruined business district and the waterfront, which from this point south was consumed to the water-line.
This rare record looks north on the two railroad trestles – the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern on the left and the Ram’s Horn, on the right, that from this point north survived the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, with the splashing work of bucket lines. Thereby the Schwabacher Wharf, seen here, survived to serve in the early rebuilding of Seattle’s  ruined business district and waterfront, which from this point south was burned to the water-line.

Our “then,” but not our “now,” looks south from the Schwabacher Wharf at the foot of Union Street.  It was the only pier on Seattle’s central waterfront to survive the Great Fire of 1889, and so was the gateway for the shipped materials needed to rebuild the some thirty city blocks flattened by the fire.  The photo was recorded sometime after the fire and before the November storm of 1892, when “high and violent winds” collapsed the next dock south of the Schwabacher, Baker’s Dock at the foot of University Street.  Here it is still standing on the far side of the 290-foot-long and dark green Ecclefechan, resting at what since 1974 has been the south side of Waterfront Park. 

Pier 6 (since 1944 Pier 57) in a 1938 tax photo.
Pier 6 (since 1944 Pier 57) in a 1938 tax photo.
The over-size "Mosquito Fleet" steamer Yosemite parked at the end of the Pier 6 Arllington Wharf, before its name change to Milwaulkee.
The over-size “Mosquito Fleet” steamer Yosemite parked at the end of the Pier 6 Arllington Wharf, before the wharf’s name change to Milwaukee.

After its 1892 collapse, Baker’s Dock (it is written on photographer George H. Braas’s negative, lower-right) was rebuilt, longer and stronger, as the Arlington Dock.  (Compare the pre-and-post storm piers in the two “then” photos at the top.) About a dozen years later it was replaced by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway pier, which survives and now supports a Ferris wheel.  Five years after Braas used it for his prospect, the Schwabacher Wharf hosted the sensational arrival of the S.S. Portland, the “ton of gold” steamer

The "ton of gold" Portland parked in the north slip of the Schwabacher Wharf which is busy with the almost hysterical crowd.
The “ton of gold” Portland parked at low tide in the north slip of the Schwabacher Wharf, which is busy with a potentially  hysterical crowd.   The Pike Street Pier is on the far side of the Portland.

that in 1897 incited the hysteria surrounding the Yukon Gold Rush. Seventy years later the old wharf was torn down by its owner, the Port of Seattle, in preparation, in turned out, for the open water of Seattle’s Waterfront Park and Jean’s many-splendored view.

The Century 21 "boatel" Catala parked at the south "prong" of what remained of the Schwabacher Dock in 1962.
The Century 21 “boatel” Catala parked at the south “prong” of the tuning-fork-shaped dock: what remained of the Schwabacher Dock in 1962.
Waterfront Park construction, April 11, 1974, by Frank Shaw.
Waterfront Park construction, April 11, 1974, by Frank Shaw.
Waterfront Park by Frank Shaw, November 15, 1974.
Waterfront Park by Frank Shaw, November 15, 1974.
Waterfront Park, November 26, 1974 by Frank Shaw.
Waterfront Park, November 26, 1974 by Frank Shaw.

 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, me lads?  Yes Jean, Ron has committed himself to a generous embrace of past features, and all are off the waterfront, or near it.

THEN: The S. S. Suveric makes a rare visit to Seattle in 1911. (Historical photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: The driver, lower left, leads his team towards First Avenue up a planked incline on Madison Street. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN:In late 1855 the citizens of Seattle with help from the crew of the Navy sloop-of-war Decatur built a blockhouse on the knoll that was then still at the waterfront foot of Cherry Street. The sloop’s physician John Y. Taylor drew this earliest rendering of the log construction. (Courtesy, Yale University, Beinecke Library)

https://sherrlock.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/bell-st-bridge-then-web1.jpg?w=474

THEN: The new sub H-3 takes her inaugural baptism at the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Company’s ways on Independence Day, 1913. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: Tied momentarily to the end of the Union Oil Co dock off Bay Street, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s ship Maud prepares to cast-off for the Arctic Ocean on June 3, 1922. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: Frank Shaw’s late winter composition of waterfront landmarks at the foot of Madison Street in 1963. (Photo by Frank Shaw)

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Baker’s Dock aka The Ecclefechan”

  1. Paul:

    Your talk on the West Seattle origins of Ivar Haglund was much appreciated by everyone in the room — and all of us out in the hall. You still draw capacity crowds when you speak at an event, and I’m sure all of us would have hung around for a few more hours just to hear some more tales of Seattle. We will have to get you a bigger venue –Sick’s Stadium, maybe — or the Kingdome? Anyway, I really enjoyed it, and will be in line early to get your book on Ivar when it comes out.

    The “extra” waterfront shots in yesterdays feature were great — I especially like the one showing the “Skagit Belle” floating on top of the water instead of underneath it. My main memory of that vessel is being able to see what was left of the paddlewheel at low tide. That was a couple of years ago — like maybe 45 or so.

    Thanks again.
    Bob Carney

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