Seattle Now & Then: Digging the Fremont Canal

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This panorama could have used a tower (or drone) to better survey the size of the June 1, 191l, crowd gathered in Fremont/Ross to celebrate the beginning of construction on the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)
THEN: This panorama could have used a tower (or drone) to better survey the size of the June 1, 191l, crowd gathered in Fremont/Ross to celebrate the beginning of construction on the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: Although more than a century has passed, many of the structures showing in the 1911 panorama survive, including the front porch on the far left of both the ‘then’ and Jean Sherrard’s repeat. Blue reflections off the canal shine on the right.
NOW: Although more than a century has passed, many of the structures showing in the 1911 panorama survive, including the front porch on the far left of both the ‘then’ and Jean Sherrard’s repeat. Blue reflections off the canal shine on the right.

I had been familiar with the right half of this panorama for nearly forty years, but beyond recognizing that Queen Anne Hill was on the right horizon, it continued to puzzle me.  Recently a studious friend, Ron Edge, while reviewing the Webster and Stevens Collection of historical Seattle subjects in the library of the Museum of History and Industry, found the left half, the street scene with the loosely parked array of motorcars.  After merging the two parts, Ron was able to match the historical porch of the home on the far left with the existing porch at the northwest corner of N.W. Canal Street and First Avenue N.W.  It is mostly hidden behind the landscape in Jean Sherrard’s repeat, again on the far left.  [Next, we will include two looks at the same neighborhood that sits, with these,  across the canal’s mostly completed ditch perhaps two years or three after the featured photo was first recorded in 1911.   The “existing porch,” noted above, can be found in both of the details. ] 

The obscure porch is easily found on the far left of both of the above photos. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
The obscure porch is easily found on the far left of both of the above photos.  To ENLARGE it will help to CLICK TWICE.] (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

The site is about a half-mile west of the Fremont Bridge, on the north side of what, prior to the ship canal, was still called Ross Creek, Lake Union’s outlet to Salmon Bay. Before the Fremont lumber mill was constructed in the late 1880s, this was known as part of Ross, a community named for the truly pioneer family that first settled here in the 1850s.  Ross School on Third Ave. N.W. survived until 1940.  

An 1890s mostly imagined development - including Ross, far-right - along the north shore of Lake Union. Latona is long since part of Wallingford. This is true, as well, of Edgewater, although Fremont might claim part of that too. Brooklyn, far-right, was the first name that held, for a time, for the University District.
A  late 1890s map of the mostly imagined development – including Ross, far-left – along the north shore of Lake Union.  Latona is long since part of Wallingford. This is true, as well, of Edgewater, although Fremont might claim part of that too. Brooklyn, far-right, was the first name that held, for a time, for the University District.
Another snap
Another snap from the June 1, 1911 celebration for the start at digging the ship canal.   The poster on the far left  includes a date that led us to also dating the celebration.

We found a clue to the date for this celebration in another Webster and Stevens photo of this event, which included a detail of a Dreamland poster promoting a dance for the 2nd of June.  From the evidence of the motorcars, we began our search in late May of 1911, and we were soon rewarded. The smoke rising from the center of the pan marks the moment – or nearly – when, to quote the next day Seattle Times for June 2, 1911, the elderly Judge Roger Greene

x-Ross-canal-celebration-No.-2-WEB

Above and above, two more Webster and Stevens records from the June 1, 1911 canal-digging celeberation. {Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
Above and above, two more Webster and Stevens records from the June 1, 1911 canal-digging celebration. {Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

“stood on the little platform in the midst of a throng and waving, with all the vigor of his long-past youth … gave the signal which started the steam shovels in their task of digging the canal west of Fremont … It was the most dramatic moment of the entire day, which had been dedicated to the celebration in this city of the Progress & Prosperity events taking place on June 1.”  That singular day’s long list of promotions began downtown with a Second Avenue parade celebrating the completion of the 18-story Hoge building, briefly the tallest in Seattle, and the start of construction on the 42-story (more or less) Smith Tower. [For aging eyes like ours click the below twice for reading.  It is the Times next day report on the June 1, 1911 celebration.]

The Seattle Times next day report on the June 1, 1911 celebration at Ross/Freemont.
The Seattle Times next day report on the June 1, 1911 celebration at Ross/Freemont.   CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE

The parade, led by Kavanaugh’s marching band, included a long line of motorcars and “at least 400 Ballard citizens” carrying picks and shovels. The Ballardian canal boomers led the auto-less pedestrians up Second Avenue to trolleys waiting on Pike Street to carry them to Fremont and the afternoon program featuring prosperity-succoring VIPs, speaking loudly in counterpoint with the satisfied growling of steam shovels. 

Another later look across the canal to the neighborhood where the first digging was celebrated - and started - on June 1, 1911. And the house with the porch can be found here, as well.
Another later look across the canal to the neighborhood where the first digging was celebrated – and started – on June 1, 1911. And the house with the porch can be found here, as well.  Ran Edge, and I, challenge our readers to date this pan and also elaborate-identify some of its parts and landmarks.   [You are now on your own.]
Friend of Foe?
Friend of the canal or foe or, perhaps, an American ex-patriot in England scheming to trade some of his wealth for a title and a life of meetings and parties with Europe’s who is who?

The leader of the Progress & Prosperity Day committee was Millard Freeman, the brilliantly pugnacious publisher of the Pacific Fisherman, the Pacific Motorboat and The Town Crier.  With federal money at last insuring the canal project, Freeman promoted the Progress & Prosperity Day in part to get even by expressing his political resentments toward the canal’s “lurking foes … and to flay these opponents with the lash of pubic scorn and resentment.”  And at the end of the day, “to insure the steady progress of Seattle and the prosperity of all the people,” The estimated 310,00 residents of Seattle were urged to keep their porch lights burning city-wide between 9 and 10 pm.  

The Army Corps 1891 map of its proposed route for the canal between salt water and fresh. Thru the ensuing quarter-century until its completion many changes were made.
The Army Corps 1891 map of its proposed route for the canal between salt water and fresh. Thru the ensuing quarter-century until its completion, many changes were made. CLICK CLICK

WEB EXTRAS

Additions, mes potes?  Several past feature from the canal or near it, Jean.  We claim no more.

THEN: Looking east from the roof of the still standing testing lab, the Lock’s Administration Building (from which this photograph was borrowed) appears on the left, and the district engineer’s home, the Cavanaugh House (still standing) on the center horizon. (Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers at Chittenden Locks)

THEN: Captioned Salmon Bay, 1887, this is most likely very near the eastern end of the bay where it was fed by Ross Creek, the Lake Union outlet. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan Vintage Posters and Photographs)

THEN: From the Fremont Bridge, this subject looks northwest across the torrent that followed the washout of the Fremont Dam in the early afternoon of March 13, 1914. Part of the Bryant Lumber and Shingle Mill appears left-of-center. The north end of the Stone Way Trestle appears in the upper right corner. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

THEN: One of a few photographs recording from different prospects the Fremont trolley car barn on Dec.11, 1936. North 35th Street, on the right, was originally named Blewett for Edward and Carrie Blewett. In 1888 the couple, fresh from Fremont, Nebraska, first named and promoted Fremont as a Seattle neighborhood. That year Fremont also got its lumber mill. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Looking west down Ewing Street (North 34th) in 1907 with the nearly new trolley tracks on the left and a drainage ditch on the right to protect both the tracks and the still barely graded street from flooding. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)

THEN: James Lee, for many years an official photographer for Seattle’s public works department, looks south over Ballard’s Salmon Bay a century ago. Queen Anne Hill marks the horizon, with a glimpse of Magnolia on the far right. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: With great clouds overhead and a landscape 45 years shorter than now, one vehicle – a pickup heading east – gets this part of State Route 520 to itself on a weekday afternoon. (courtesy Lawton Gowey)

Built for the manufacture of a fantastic engine that did not make it beyond its model, the Fremont factory’s second owner, Carlos Flohr, used it to build vacuum chambers for protecting telescope lenses. Thirty feet across and made from stainless steel the lens holders were often mistaken for flying saucers. (photo courtesy Kvichak marine Industries.)

Then: Photographed from an upper story of the Ford Factory at Fairview Avenue and Valley Street, the evidence of Seattle's explosive boom years can be seen on every shore of Lake Union, ca. 1920. Courtesy of MOHAI

17web

THEN: The Latona Bridge was constructed in 1891 along the future line of the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge. The photo was taken from the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway right-of-way, now the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail. The Northlake Apartment/Hotel on the right survived and struggled into the 1960s. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: The historical view looks directly south into the Latona addition’s business district on Sixth Ave. NE. from the Northern Pacific’s railroad bridge, now part of the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Long-time Wallingford resident Victor Lygdman looks south through the work-in-progress on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge during the summer of 1959. Bottom-right are the remnants of the Latona business and industrial district, including the Wayland Mill and the Northlake Apartments, replaced now with Ivar’s Salmon House and its parking. (Photo by Victor Lygdman)

montlake-f-roanoke

THEN: Pioneer Arthur Denny's son, Orion, took this photo of popularly named Lake Union John and his second wife, Madeline, sometime before the latter's death in 1906.

THEN: The 1906-07 Gas Works at the north end of Lake Union went idle in 1956 when natural gas first reached Seattle by pipeline. In this photo, taken about fifteen years later, the Wallingford Peninsula is still home to the plant’s abandoned and “hanging gardens of metal.” (Courtesy: Rich Haag)

=====

Looking north over the short-lived Fremont high bridge in 1911.
Looking north over the short-lived
Fremont high bridge in 1911.
Looking north on the Fremont high bridge, 1911.
Looking north on the Fremont high bridge, 1911.

clip 1911 FREMONT-HIGH-BIRDGE-now-web

Enjoying the noontime sun while resting or fishing perhaps with a hidden pole on the bridge that cross the Lake's Fremont outlet. Beyond is the trolley bridge. The scene looks west towards Ross and Ballard.
Enjoying the noontime sun while resting or fishing perhaps with a hidden pole on the bridge that cross the Lake’s Fremont outlet. Beyond is the trolley bridge. The scene looks west towards Ross and Ballard.

====

Work on the north pier of the Fremont Bascule Bridge.
Work on the north pier of the Fremont Bascule Bridge.

clip-Fremont-Bridge-Construct-NOW-web

clip-Fremont-Bridge-construction-web

=====

First appeared in Pacific January 29, 1987
First appeared in Pacific January 29, 1987

=====

clip-Ballard-fm-Q.A.hill-WEB

CLIP-Ballard-mills-fm-QA-15th-ave-WEB

=====

clip-Ballard-Skyline-web

First appeared in Pacific, December 11, 1988.
First appeared in Pacific, December 11, 1988.

=====

clip-Fishereman-term-fm-15th-bridge-WEB

=====

First appeared in Pacific, July 15, 1984.
First appeared in Pacific, July 15, 1984.

=====

clip-Ballard-Bridge-Tracks-removal-web-

=====

First appeared in Pacific Oct. 31, 2004.
First appeared in Pacific Oct. 31, 2004.

======

First appeared in Pacific, August 14, 2001.
First appeared in Pacific, August 19, 2001.

=====

xx- 1914, dec.11 FREMONT-SPILLWAY-THEN-1914WEB

xx-7-16-2006-Fremont-Dam,--Spillway-lk-eWEB

xx- 1914 FREMONT-SPILLWAY-NOW-WEB

###

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Digging the Fremont Canal”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s