Seattle Now & Then: The Dominion Monarch

(click to enlarge photos)
THEN: The ocean liner Dominion Monarch arrived in Seattle from Southampton, England on May 29, 1962 to a noisy Worlds’ Fair public relations greeting while it was carefully slipped between pilings especially driven beside Pier 50, where it was moored as a “boatel” for the duration of its service thru the duration of Century 21. It was a brief reprieve for following the fair the liner sailed for Japan where she was broken up. (Photo by Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Thanks to the Seattle Police Department for including Jean Sherrard in their waterfront patrol last June 29. Jean got a wake-up call at 6:30 a.m. from patrol vessel No. 9 as it passed through the Chittenden Locks. Told he had 30 minutes to make it to the pergola at the foot of Washington Street for his “repeat,” Jean made a big exception. He skipped his home-roasted morning coffee.
Lawton Gowey, a friend now long departed, is still a frequent contributor to this feature.  Ordinarily it has been with historical photographs from his collection but this time it is with one of his own Kodachromes, and as was his considerate habit, it is dated.  On the late morning of June 20, 1962, with his back to the landmark steel pergola (1920) at the waterfront foot of Washington Street, Lawton recorded a harbor patrol boat carefully jockeying between its float and the 27,000 tons of the Dominion Monarch.
The 682-foot-long Dominion M. was the largest of three ships parked on the Seattle waterfront during Century 21 to serve as hotel ships, aka “boatels,” during the worlds fair. With the hindsight of the  “Marine History of the Pacific Northwest,” which he authored, Port Commissioner and maritime historian Gordon Newell admitted that the fair’s “predicted major housing shortage failed to develop.”  The boatels were not much needed, and yet the shapely English vessel was for many a sensational attraction and during the fair Newell won the concession for leading tours aboard it.  Standing on its flying bridge, ten stories high, one looked down on the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
The Dominion Monarch being nestled by a tug, which negotiates it to its delicate physical/legal anchorage. Another slide by Lawton Gowey.
The Boatel and its "attachment" to the special pilings placed on its starboard side to give its odd mooring. Lawton Gowey dates this one June 20, 1962.
A detail of the pilings with the boat landing pergola evident beyond the ship at the subject's center.
It is possible that Gowey also toured this big boatel on the day he photographed it, for on that same June 6 Wednesday morning The Seattle Times humorist John Reddin wrote about taking the tour.  Reddin imagined or mistook his guide, Commissioner Newell, in his “white, tropical uniform,” as “Noel Coward playing the lead role in ‘In Which We Serve’”  Reddin concluded that Newell “easily could play Lieut. Pinkerton in ‘Madame Butterfly’.”
Gowey looks down from the Smith Tower showing the Dominion Monarch resting near (but not on) the south side of Pier 50 at the Foot of Yesler Way. The subject extends from Pier 48, far left, to Ivar's Pier 54, far right. The Polynesian Rest. sits at the far end of Pier 51 and at the center of Gowey's recording. The Kalakala is one of the two ferries holding at the water end of Colman Dock.
This Gowey slide from June 21, 1961 may be compared to the one above it. It is still a year before the Dominion Monarch's arrival. Here the Polynesian is a work-in-progress. The warehouse-shed on Pier 50, far left, is still intact, but not for long. The Kalakala appears here too, in the slip between Pier 51 and Colman Dock.
Frank Shaw looks west through the decorated timbers of the Polynesia to the Smith Tower. Shaw dates this slide May 7, 1961, a month-and-a-half before the Gowey's kodachrome above it.
Another Frank Shaw record of the Polynesian under construction. Note the end of the Pier 50 shed on the far left.
Frank Shaw's look from the boat harbor Pergola at the foot of Washington Street, over the Harbor Patrol boat to Pier 50 with the razing of its pier shed nearly complete and with the Polynesian still a work-in-progress.
The view from an upper deck of the Dominion Monarch to the shed-less water end of Pier 50 and the completed Polynesian at the water end of Pier 51. Photo by Frank Shaw.
Bob Bradley's slide of the Polynesian dated July 18, 1963.
Looking north up the waterfront and into the Central Business District from an upper deck of the Dominion Monarch. Gowey dates this August 19, 1962.
Almost certainly it was another waterfront regular E. A. “Eddie” Black who favored Newell with his tour leader’s role, for it was Black who intercepted the Dominion Monarch, then on its way to Japan for scrapping, to come to the fair first.  Black was a seasoned and savvy operator on the waterfront who escaped official leans on vessels tied to docks by making his rented cruiser a “permanent installation.”  He simply drove pilings to both the port and starboard sides of the Dominion Monarch.  This made the gangway to the ship’s lodgings and/or Newel’s dapper tours somewhat longer than if the Dominion Monarch had been tied snugly to Pier 50.
A repeat of Lawton Gowey's look at E. A. Eddie Black's piles


One correction, Paul, to your otherwise excellent column – I was up before 6 AM to meet the SPD boat at the foot of Washington Street at 6:30 – a real sign of dedication on an early but lovely summer’s morning.
Anything to add, Paul?
A little “before 6 AM” may be about when I get to bed this morning – unless I put off some of it until tomorrow or “another day.”
Yes Jean there are some related past features from this neighborhood to put up and a few odd images that also hang around the waterfront near the foot of Washington or thereabouts.
First we have two links to touch or trigger.
The first of these leads to a very relevant former blog – one from the month of May, last.  It includes a good many subjects that explore the waterfront south of Yesler Way.  Here’s the link.
The second link is to that well-illustrated tome that is buttoned on the front page of this blog as the Waterfront History.  If you dear reader go to the first part of that chronicle you will find more that is relevant about this part of the waterfront.   Reach the Waterfront History link by mousing the image that follows here – and thanks again to Ron Edge for finding and placing it.
Welcoming Pergola at the waterfront foot of Washington Street. (Courtesy Municipal Archive)
August 1996
(First appeared in Pacific, July 27, 1997)
Since 1920 the waterfront foot of Washington Street has been distinguished by the steel pergola erected there from the plans of D.R. Huntington, the city’s official architect. The shelter and its floats were a public work described as preparing “a shore location . . . for the Pacific Fleet.”
TR's fleet on Puget Sound, 1908
After the 1908 visit of Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, military flotillas on Elliott Bay became something of a summer ritual. Jack Dillon, one of Seattle’s “ardent mariners,” recalls the excitement of waiting here for the Navy’s shore boats to pick up him and hundreds of other children and their parents to visit the dreadnoughts during Fleet Week.
Jack Dillon grabbed from Feature No. 17 in Seattle Now and Then Vol. 2 p. 52, which can be found on this blog as a pdf file. Jack is pointing here at Colman Dock, and neither Pier 49 nor Pier 50, the two docks that once sided the slip at the foot of Washington Street.
The 1938 tax record of the pergola. Pier 50 is on the right, although in 1938 it was still named Pier A. (Courtesy, Washington State Archive in Bellevue)
More of the W.P.A. processed and payed-for depression-time tax card.
For many years the shelter and its adjoining moorings were the home of the city’s Harbor Patrol. After 1923 the Harbor Patrol ran its own radio station on Pier 50, far right. Dillon remembers that its studio was separated by a glass partition from the passenger waiting room at the waterfront end of the dock. There his mother and he would board Canadian Pacific steamers for their frequent visits with relatives in Victoria.
In 1927 the slip below the shelter was outfitted for the regular use of small boats. During World War IT this public boat landing was regularly swamped by the wakes of water taxis that ran between here and the shipyards on Harbor Island.
Post-war aerial of waterfront from Pier 50, on the left to Pier 46 far right. Note how both Piers 47 and 49 have been reduced to stubs as Pier 48 continues to grow out and tot he sides. The Washington Street harbor and its Pergola can be discovered between Piers 49 and 50.
An early look at this part of the waterfront from the Smith Tower. The elevated trestle for the waterfront trolley comes into the frame far-left and a the center of this subject curves to its terminus at the corner of Washington and First South. We will treat of that construction below (although perhaps not yet tonight.) Pier 51 is far right, and Yesler Way is the street reaching the waterfront bottom-right. Pier 50 is next and by 1920 quite extended into the bay. Next comes the Washington Street slip with the pergola. To its left is Pier 49, still showing size that is not much smaller than Pier 48, to the left (south) of it with the bowed roof. To the left of Pier 48, Pier 47 also has some size (compared to the ca. 1946 aerial above), and next to the left Pier 46 at the foot of Jackson Street is about the size of the "Alaska Piers," far right, at the foot of Yesler. Compare this set with what follows.
A circa 1940 look down from the Smith Tower to much of the same section of the waterfront south of Yesler Way. Most dramatically we see how piers 49 and 47 have shrunk while Pier 48 has more than doubled.
This 1994 snapshot from the Columbia Tower (by Genny McCoy) reveals the spead then of the container fields south of King Street, the growing sprawl for parking and staging surrounding Colman Dock, far right, and the hypertrophy of Pier 48, with the loss of all other piers south of Colman Docks until the East Waterway. At this time, I believe, the Seattle Bookfair was still being held in the unheaded but inspired space (for a book fair) inside Pier 48.
Horace Sykes record of the Washington Street pergola (bottom-right corner) and a little remaining snub of Pier 49 (left-center), taken from the Alaskan Way Viaduct in 1953 before it was opened to traffic. Note the Pier 50 shed on the right and the Pier 48 apron on the left.
Here the Pergola on the right and that classic post-war Cadilac tailight fin on the left frame the Mikawa Maru as it takes the slips between Piers 50 and 48.
Private donations restored the pergola in 1973 and revived the slip’s service to small boats with 200 feet of new concrete floats. The city’s Harbor Patrol moved from the site, and a campaign to site a maritime museum here failed in part because of the encroachments of the waterway’s big neighbor at Pier 48, the Alaska ferries.  Among other big ships that used this slip was the Admiral Line, and it was here aboard its Curacoa that Jack Dillon took his first maritime job as a steerage waiter in 1923, at the tender age of 12.
NEXT: A few photos taken by Frank Shaw of the small boat harbor at the foot of Washington Street and a few visitors will show it in its then still recently refreshed state.
The sailboat Runaway Girl and the yacht Gallant Lady share a slip framed by the Washington Street Public Boat Landings new floats in 1976. Shaw dates this negative, May 19.
Another of the Runaway Girl and part of the Gallant Lady too. Pier 50 is still to the rear, again on April 19, 1976.
The Mutiny holding to a float with Pier 50 still to the rear. Shaw dates this Feb. 18, 1976.
Odd little Pt.Anne holding to the float. The tops of the Polynesian's three A-frames are seen above Pt. Anne and Pier 50. Frank Shaw dates this Feb. 7, 1976.
Looking around Pt. Anne to the pergola. Feb. 18, 1976
Inside Pt. Anne revealed or studied
A totem in the mini-park a the northeast corner of Pier 48, Feb. 18, 1976.
Frank Shaw looks back across the mini-park and its totem on Feb. 18, 1976.
A ferry from the Alaskan fleet resting in the slip to the north side of Pier 48 with the Kingdome for a cap in July 1987. The Washington Street Landing's pergola is on the far left. Photo by Lawton Gowey
June 1, 1975, the Princess Margauerite begins its season with some hoopla at the north side of Pier 48. (Photo by Lawton Gowey)
More of the same - June 1, 1975 send-off designed to stimulate the visit Victoria promotions. (Gowey)
Later a different Margierite III front loads at Pier 48 ca. 1998.
NOW We lay me down to bed and will return late-morning.  So please check again if you will.
And now we rise up and continue – 11:30 Sunday morning.
Railroad Avenue, ca. 1901, looking north. The photographer Hegg's back is to Washington Street (courtesy, U.W. Libraries, Special Collections)
NOTE: The feature below was my third contribution to Pacific, published first on Jan. 31, 1982.
(First appeared in PACIFIC, Jan 31, 1982)
In 1897, thousands of “traveling men” jumped from the piers along Seattle’s Railroad Avenue onto crowded steamers headed for the Klondike goldfields. One of them was an itinerant photographer, E.H. Hegg. However, Hegg’s rush was not caused by gold fever but the opportunity for extracting exciting subjects. When he returned in 1900, the exposed silver on his photographic plates was a mineral more inestimable than gold.
Here Hegg has returned to Railroad Avenue, the scene of his earlier departure. It was still a stage of energetic confusion with at many as eight railroad lines jockeying for right-of-way. It often took days of creative switching to move freight from one pier shed to the next.  On loose fill pushed out 150 feet from the shore, this giant boardwalk of flapping planks and settling tracks was dangerous for any pedestrian wanting to reach the water. A waterfront as dilapidated as this one often was, was not consistent with the progressive pride of the “Wonder City of the West.” It would take years of litigation to undue the political and commercial tangles for which these overlapping tracks were a symbol. The ambitious city was stuck with a homely front door to both visitors and the new century.
Another civic embarrassment was the “castle” on the hill. It was very imposing but also empty. Although built in 1890 the Denny Hotel was still not receiving guests in 1900 when Hegg photographed it (see above left), nor in 1902 when he left town once again. Not until 1903 was its interior appointed and front door ready to open to the stout big stick of President Teddy Roosevelt, its first patron. Yet by 1907 both the hotel and that part of Denny Hill on which it stood would be leveled to a grade more satisfying to yet another earth-mover, City Engineer R.H. Thomson.
Similar to Hegg's record, also with his or her back to Washington - or perhaps shooting above and over it - another photographer looks down on Railroad Avenue and up to Denny Hotel, which got its name changed to Washington Hotel when it opened for T. Roosevelt in the spring of 1903. Within four years it was razed as part of the Denny Hill Regrade. Note the city's principal train station right-of-center between Yesler and Columbia.
Still elevated but later - and cracked. If the unnamed photographer had turned his or her camera to the right (east) the hotel would not appear. The two "Alaska Piers" 1 and 2 - or later 50 and 51 - appear on the left. The tower above them was the grand landmark of the Grand Trunk Pacific Dock on the north side of Colman Dock and just south of the waterfront fire station. The Canadian railroad's pier is now all parking for the ferry's use. When it was completed in 1911 the Grand Truck pier was "largest wooden pier in North America," which means it was almost certainly such at least on the West Coast. The pier caught fire in 1914 and was reduced to scorched pilings. The Canadian's rebuilt it without the tower. (These points and more are shared in the Waterfront History that is posted on this blog.)
Today Railroad Avenue is less an urban theater and more a charming sideshow renamed Alaskan Way. And it is still set apart from the city. Since its opening in 1953, the viaduct above has provided both a panoramic tour and fast bypass of the central city. But although one can pass over and under this viaduct, one cannot see through it dearly. The effect is that the city’s separation from its waterfront has been reinforced with concrete.
This "now," which was featured in the Jan. 31, 1982 Pacific, is mistaken - by one block. Note the "Man Street" sign, upper-left. (In 1982 I was, perhaps, an advanced sophomore in a school from which I will never graduate.)
Looking west on Washington St. a few feet west of First Ave. South. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 16, 1983)
On September 4, 1919 the Seattle Municipal Street Railway completed the building of its elevated line above Railroad Avenue. The event was remarkably subdued. There were no brass bands, no speeches amplified by public spirit, and no ceremonial first rides. Only a short bit buried on an inside page of the Times noted “Cars on Elevated.” The reporter speculated that once the somewhat wobbly operation proved safe, the streetcars would be running up to speed and that then the trip to Alki and Lake Burien would be cut by as much as 15 minutes. When the line was first proposed in 1917, it was not designed to get West Seattle residents home from work a quarter hour sooner. It was promoted to beat the Kaiser.
When the U.S. entered the First World War in April 1917, Seattle’s southern harbor was already mobilized and setting speed records in shipbuilding. But while the workers were fast on their jobs, they were slow getting to their war work. The then privately owned street railway system was dilapidated, and its service to South Seattle inadequate.
Encouraged by the federal government’s Emergency Fleet Corporation, Mayor Hiram Gill proposed that the city build its own elevated service to the shipyards. In 1918 he put the plan to a vote. The voters chose the elevated but not Hi Gill who lost his reelection bid to a gregarious politico named Ole Hanson. The ambitious Hanson took up the task of forwarding both the trestle’s elevation and his own. The new mayor boarded the civic bandwagon for municipal ownership of the entire street railway system. This was put to a vote and the enthused citizens agreed to the purchase price of 15 million, or three times the deteriorated system’s appraised worth.
Armistice Day came only one week after the November 5th election, and when the international hostilities subsided, the local ones heated up. Without war orders the once frantic south bay shipbuilding took a dive. Layoffs and wage cuts followed. The trestle, which was still under construction, began to loom as a white elephant. Like the shipbuilders it was built to transport, it was not so needed.
The waterfront strike, which followed in January of 1919, soon spread city-wide to a four-day general strike. Mayor Hanson characterized this “revolution” as a “treasonable Bolshevist uprising.” His “heroic struggle” against these “red forces” got him a lot of world press, and the mayor was briefly catapulted into the national limelight. It also deflected local criticism against him as the highest-placed early proponent of the debt-ridden and still dilapidated Seattle Municipal Street Railway.
His honor liked both the publicity and the protection from public criticism so much that he resigned, took off on a national lecture tour, and in a moment of gracious megalomania made himself available for the Republican presidential nomination. The almost equally anonymous Warren Harding beat him out of it.
This montage of clips appears also in "Seattle 1900 to 1920," Rich Berner's first - of three - books on Seattle in the first half of the 20th Century. It can be read in toto on this blog.
The older photograph (third above) was probably taken shortly before the elevated line was completed on September 4, 1919. Both the special car and the tracks have workmen on them, and the motorman seems to be posing. On the left, some of the men lined up under the old J & M Cafe’s Washington Street entrance may be idle ship-workers seeking work through the C.M.&S.P. Employment Agency in the little Collins Building just left of street car No. 103. Now both the Milwaukee Road and its employment agency are long gone.
West on Washington through its intersection with First Ave. So.
On October 12, 1929, or only ten years and eight days after it was completed, the Railroad Avenue Elevated was condemned and sold for salvage for $8,200.  By then Ole Hanson had lone since moved to southern California and founded a new town, which would many years later put his name in touch again with the presidency.  He named his seaside community San Clemente.  (It occurs to me in this election year of 2012 that some readers may not by now know the link implied thirty years ago when this was first published.  San Clemente was the home of Richard M. Nixon.)
West on Washington from where the short-lived viaduct makes its last and first turn. By May 12, 1930 - the date inscribed lower-left on the Muni. Public Works negative - the tracks have been removed. (Courtesy, Seattle City Archives)
(First appeared in Pacific, April 30, 1995, and surely repeats some of what was used thirteen years earlier and printed again above.)
The “readiness” hysteria accompanying the United States’ participation in World War I resulted in a number of local public works described at the time as “military necessities.” Among these was the elevated railroad that ran above Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way South) from Pioneer Square to the Spokane Street bridge.
It was proposed in 1917 to speed wartime workers to the South Bay shipyards on and around Harbor Island, but electric trolleys first swayed atop its wooden trestle long after the war ended and the munitions boom had gone flat. The cars started running Sept. 4, 1919, and stopped ten years later. But it was a decade of thrills for West Seattle commuters, who still remember the amusement-ride characteristics of the elevated, especially when the exposed cars – after wobbling across the West Seattle bridge on Spokane Street – took a sharp left turn off Spokane, accelerating for a fast run into downtown above Marginal Way.
The final excitement came with the last curve – seen here – down to the line’s Pioneer Square terminus at First South and Washington Street. This may be the last view looking down the ramp through that final block. The trestle was dismantled soon after this photograph was shot on May 12, 1930, seven months after the line was condemned. It was sold for salvage, though so far here only the rails have been removed.
A scientifically studied contemporary repeat might have been taken somewhere on the Alaskan Way Viaduct by a photographer more courageous or fool-hardy then this one was in 1995.  Since 1953 the Alaskan Way Viaduct or Freeway runs snug between historic district’s buildings and the surface street.   The trolley elevated was not so snug to the buildings, as can be seen in the view below that looks south along its line also from Washington Street.
Another public works photo recorded same day and same place as the one above. This one, however, looks south on Railroad Ave. from Washington Street - above it. This gap between the buildings on the left and the trestle was the future route of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and a repeats would be taken from its lower - I surmise only - south-bound lane. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)
The steamer Catala rests near the end of a narrow remnant of the old Schwabacher Wharf at the foot of Union Street in 1962, in what is now the open water of Waterfront Park.
(First appeared in Pacific, Jan 11, 2004)
As the “Queen” of the Union Steamship Fleet the Catala was a tramp steamer dressed in a formal.  For nearly 35 years her pointed bow was eagerly greeted at the logging camps, canneries and isolated villages between Vancouver and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.  Here she rests on the Seattle Waterfront waving the Stars and Strips as a sign of a new service that was also a rescue.
Headed for scrap in 1959 the Catala was instead gussied-up to perform as a “boatel” on Seattle’s waterfront during 1962 Century 21.  Along with the 682-foot-long Dominion Monarch and the 537-foot-long Acapulco the 253-foot Catala was the smallest of three liners outfitted to serve as hotel ships during the worlds fair.   According to Gene Woodwick, the vessels sympathetic chronicler, the Catala was also the only one to make a profit and stay for the duration of the fair.  The steamer was already familiar to Canadians and many of the guests that enjoyed her plush quarters during the fair were the loggers, fishers and shore-huggers who had once ridden her.
Lawton Gowey's sunset snapa of the Catala from the Alaskan Way sidewalk, summer of 1962..
Built in 1925 in Montrose, Scotland her last stop in 1963 was at Ocean Shores where she was set up again as a “boatel” with 52 staterooms, a restaurant and lounge, but this time for fishers. During the night of New Years Eve, 1965, the Catala was driven ashore by 70 mph winds.  Picked by scavengers and salvagers she remained a picturesque wreck until bulldozed over.
Gene Woodwick (She is also the director of the Ocean Shores Interpretative Center.) is pleased to note that on New Years Eve 2001 – thirty-five years after blown ashore – another storm exposed the keel and remaining ribbing of the Catala, which then resumed her very last service as a maritime relic.
Gene Woodwick and I after a Salmon House Happy Hour repast in 2010.
(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 15, 1989)
If the present Washington Street Public Boat Landing were plopped down into this week’s historical scene, the ornate shelter would straddle the Crawford & Harrington Wharf just beyond the pile of stacked planks – about halfway between the shore and the shed at the end of the pier. This view was copied from the best of the few surviving prints of what is one of the city’s photographic classics. On a different and inferior print, photographer Theodore Peiser has inscribed his name and this caption, “Crawford & Harrington and Yesler’s Wharves with S.S. Dakota 1881.” (The absence of Peiser’s signature and caption on this clearer print suggests that he might have later added his mark to a scene left behind by another photographer, for which he had a poorer copy – a common practice among pioneer photographers.)
One year earlier when the side-wheeler Dakota was awarded the mail contract between San Francisco and Victoria, it added Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia to a West Coast packet it’d been running since 1875. Here the side-wheeler pauses at the end of Yesler’s Wharf which, until the fire of 1889 destroyed it and every other dock south of Union Street, was the principal pier on the waterfront.
Just right of center and also tied to Yesler’s Wharf is a smaller side-wheeler, the J.B. Libby. The Libby was launched at Utsaladdy on Camano Island in 1862, and in its quarter-century of working Puget Sound, became the best-known small steamer on these waterways. In November 1889 while en route from Roche Harbor to Port Townsend carrying 500 barrels of lime, the Libby lost its rudder in a storm and caught fire. It carried seven crew and seven passengers, the latter escaping on the steamer’s lifeboat and the former on rafts. All survived.
At the outer end (far left) of the Crawford & Harrington Wharf sits the pier shed for the Talbot Coal Yard, named for a San Francisco capitalist who bankrolled early mining of the Renton coal fields.  The greatest coal exporter from this waterfront was the Oregon Improvement Company’s big coal wharf and bunkers at the foot of King Street, three blocks to the south.  The company’s coal exports then to San Francisco were many times greater than its imports to Puget Sound.  Especially from 1878 to 1881 the OIC’s greatest import was ballast that it would dump in the bay before loading up on coal.  These contributions constructed our “Ballast Island” off shore between Washington and Main Streets.
Same prospect - nearly - and similar to the Dakota profile above it, but this is later. Note the large shed standing at the far end of Yesler Wharf and behind the steamer.
Another later - but not much later - look from the foot of Washington Street.
The post-1889 fire foot of Washington Street, looking east from a vessel, I presume. This classic was featured in Pacific on May 20, 1984 and can be read again through the link offered above (near the top) for entrance to the line-up of stories published here last May. Or failing that go to the top of this blog and enter "ballast" in the search box. The same May last content will come up first. Recently, Ron Edge has found another but different look at this subject from an elevated prospect, also form a vessel most likely. It is sharp but also rough and needs to be cleaned some before showing. We will probably use it for a future feature in the Times. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)
The Prison Ship "Success" in the slip between pier 51 (then still Pier 2) on the right and Pier 50, and so at the foot of Yesler Way. Note a glimpse can be had of the Harbor Patrol vessel, far-right.
1915, looking southeast from Pier 2 (51) across the slip to Pier 1 (50).
(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 22, 2000)
The apparently ironically named “Convict Ship Success” may be counted among the more gaudy floating acts to have visited the Seattle waterfront. Constructed in India of Burmese teak, its yellow-orange beak-shaped bow was tied to Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) in the late summer of 1915 while on a West Coast tour. The ship’s owner, Captain D.H. Smith, bought an advertisement in The Seattle Times Saturday edition of Sept. 11, 1915, explaining that his barkentine had been “raised from the bottom of Sydney Harbor . . . is unchanged after all these years (and is) now showing at the foot of Yesler Way, Seattle.”
And what might one expect for the 25 cents it cost to board?  “Aboard her are now shown, in their original state, all the Airless Dungeons and Condemned Cells, the Whipping Posts, the Manacles, the Branding Irons, the Punishment Balls, the leaden-tipped Cat o’ nine tails, the Coffin Bath and the other fiendish inventions of man’s brutality. This wonderful vessel has made history through three centuries . . .She is the oldest ship in the world and the only convict ship left afloat out of that dreadful fleet of ocean hell which sailed the Seven Seas in 1790A.D.”
The self-described "lurid horror" adver from the Convict of Prison ship's promoters appearing in The Seattle Times for Sept. 11, 1915.
Actually, Smith’s barkentine had more bark than bite. As Northwest maritime historian Gordon Newell explains in his classic “Marine History of the Pacific Northwest,” the Success was built around 1840 in India, not in 1790. It was used temporarily as a floating jail in 1852 but “never actually carried convicts.” In 1915 it was towed here from the East Coast in a search for suckers who would pay two-bits for a little lurid history. The next year, in 1916, Newell noted, Success returned east and apparently survived as a shoreside attraction until 1946, when it was accidentally burned near Port Cointon, Ohio.

The replica of another infamous ship that sailed the south seas, the Bounty, has made it into the slip between Piers 50 and 51. Appropriately, the Polynesian Rest. is on the right.
The ill-fated Wawona parked in the very spot of the "Success" but forty-nine years later, in 1964. Another Lawton Gowey slide.
Detail from the city's 1884 birdseye centered on Yesler's Wharf extending Mill Street (marked at the center) over the tides, and turning the dock with a dog leg to the north, far left. Ocean dock, lower center-right, shows some of the pre-fire ballast island dirt on its far side, surrounded by trestles or quays.
If I have figured this correctly - here a dredger works in the slip between what will be Piers 50 and 51. Beyond it a pile driver placing supports for the new Pier 50. This, of course, reverses Henry Yesler's decades of dumping here to extend his wharf further into Elliott Bay. What he once gave is now taken away. The northern border of the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad's small train yard appears behind the dredger on the slip leading to the north side of Pier 49.
Pier 2 extended (renumbered 51 in 1944) with Colman Dock to the left.
Extending Pier 1 (50) with Pier 2 (51) on the left. And still the coal-powered steam plant on Western Avenue spews beyond it.
From foreground to background, Piers 51, 50, 48, and the container cranes beyond Pier 46. Photographed by Frank Shaw, January 1978, sixteen years since the piers were stripped for Century 21 parking and still given mostly to the horror of motorcars.

8 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Dominion Monarch”

  1. always a pleasure doing research with this great resource. weaving the near and now reconstructed seawall beach project in pioneer sq. at the foot of Washington St. based on what was below, past and gone thanks Paul and crew. 7 2013

  2. Great site! The photos of the Ship Success in Seattle in 1915 are terrific. I have only one comment regarding one comment you made which bears correction, which was that the ship was “accidentally burned near Port Clinton, Ohio.” The fire that destroyed this famous old vessel was no accident. It was deliberately set and the identity of the perpetrators has been a matter of local scuttlebutt since the fire on July 4th, 1946. This historic vessel, which I have been researching for more than 40 years, burned less than a half mile from the home in which I grew up.

  3. I visited the “World’ Fair” in 1962. I walked the waterfront and distinctly remember seeing ILL de France painted on a large ship. Was that the Dominion Monarch renamed??

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