Preserving the History of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle, Washington

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Seattle Thrillers at the Locks

Seattle participates in the world wide Michael Jackson Thriller dance. Note the time has changed from its original time slot. 

Sun 1 PMBallard Locks-Hiram Chittenden LocksSeattle

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sometimes The Map Itself Is The Treasure

Researched and written by Susan Connole.

An original 1905 “Robinson’s Official Map of the City of Seattle and Vicinity” has recently been discovered tucked behind a door in the Administration Building at the Locks. Depicting ownership of properties from North 85th Street south to Michigan Street and between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, it is an imposing six and half feet square.

The full map unrolled.

Map detail

Robinson’s Maps were well known and published in many cities, mostly for insurance companies and real estate agents. Ours appears to be a real estate version showing property ownership but not any structures on the property, it does note schools, parks and some commercial interests. These types of maps were used during the latter part of the nineteenth century up until the mid-twentieth.

Manufactured by Goes Litho Co. in Chicago it is printed in color on paper, backed with cotton fabric and finished with a varnish coating. The logos and lettering are beautiful examples of the artistic flourishes common in commercial printing of the era. It has had a rough life with evident heat and water damage and extreme wear at the bottom edge from handling and rolling. 

Friends of the Ballard Locks volunteers have begun restoration under the guidance of a professional map conservator, the first step of cleaning both sides of the map is underway, the goal is to eventually have it on public display. The group is also searching for purchase records of the map.

There are many historic maps available online, the Seattle Public Library is a good place to start.

Also the Koch’s Birds-Eye View of Seattle map in the Library of Congress is a delightful representation of early Seattle:


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Movie and History at the Locks

Those following the events concerning the Centennial of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Chittenden Locks will want to mark the following date on their calendar. On Sun Sept.10, 2017, local documentary videographer will present his latest movie in the Visitor Center at the locks. The following is from and gives a brief description of what you may expect.

Also on the day, two local authors will be on hand to discuss their recent book on the history of this project which had its roots in the 19th century.  I believe their book is also being carried in the gift shop so it's a great opportunity to purchase a little local history or to do some advance Christmas shopping for the historian on your list.

Many of the projects which have taken place this year have received support from 4Culture and this support is gratefully acknowledged.


Video Screening: “Seattle’s Waterway to the World”

Sun. September 10, 2017 - Sun. September 10, 2017
1:30pm - 3:00pm
Vaun Raymond will present his documentary on the Ship Canal, “Seattle’s Waterway to the World,” Sunday, September 10, beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Visitor Center at the Locks. The 60-minute comprehensive documentary will be followed by a short mini-documentary, “Behind the Scenes,” about the making of Raymond’s “Legacy of the Locks” series.
David Williams and Jennifer Ott, authors of the book Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal, will be on hand to assist with post-screening discussion.
Join us as we wrap up a year of commemorating and celebrating the Ship Canal! In the meantime, all of Raymond’s Legacy of the Locks videos (and others) are available here.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Splash! A Centennial Arts Celebration

A special art exhibit is to begin this Thursday evening, August 17th, and will continue until September 15th 2017. Yet another reason to bring friends and visitors to the locks.

As part of the year's activities involving the Centennial Anniversary of the completion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Chittenden Locks, there will a temporary art installation in the Administration Building. This will be a unique opportunity to see local artists works in your next visit to one of Seattle's most popular attractions.

From's website:

"Art inspired by the centennial of the Chittenden Locks goes on display August 17 to September 15.
Opening gala Thursday, August 17th, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Light refreshments and activities for kids! Plus STRUM — Seattle’s Totally Relaxed Ukulele Musicians — will be playing from 6:00 to 7:30.
Art will be displayed in the Chittenden Locks Administration Building. A portion of sales goes to support renovations to the fish ladder plaza.
For more information call the Locks Visitor Center at 206.783.7059."

Visit Making The Cut 100's website here for more information on this and other events and resources.

Making The Cut 100 has received support and funding from 4Culture and is grateful for the projects made possible by this support.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Centennial Boat Parade

The Adventuress and crowd just before parade start. photo Kyle S.

July 9, 2017 saw a pageant of boats sailing from the Chittenden Locks through the Ship Canal to it's conclusion at the bottom of Lake Union. This was something of a recreation of the parade of boats which took place in 1917, to celebrate the official dedication and opening of the "Government Locks" and ship canal. Several years ago, there was one boat, the Zina, known to exist in the area which had been present for that original parade. Subsequently, two others were found, the Keewaydin, named the Honey Boy in 1917, and the Glorybe. The Glorybe had been burned in a fire and sunk in 2002, but had been rescued, and remarkably restored and still sails in local waters to this day. The Keewaydin, was in a state of some disrepair, but structurally sound, and was bought by a local party who have been restoring the boat to her former classic beauty. Meanwhile, the Zina, which had participated in previous anniversary sailings in the ship canal, was destroyed in a fire, just a few short years before the Centennial. the Roosevelt, which led the parade in 1917, was long since left to the elements in the Panama Canal after suffering too much damage to make repairs feasible.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Take A Part In The Centennial Commeration

Sunday’s (July 9, 2017) Locks Centennial Boat Parade viewing spots include:

Seattle Parks:
11th Ave NW Street-end park (on the Ballard side of the Ship Canal)
Roanoke St. Mini-Park, 1 E. Roanoke St., peek-a-boo view of Lake Union
Lynn St. Mini-Park, 2291 Fairview Ave E; view of Lake Union between the houseboats
Lake Union Park, south end of Lake Union

Other locations:
Evanston Avenue (one block west of Fremont Ave)
Along the Cut between the area under the Aurora Bridge west to 2nd NW
Burke-Gilman Trail (various spots); roaming docents
In front of 2 Nickerson on the canal
The Ballard Bridge approaches

On-street parking is available near most of these locations but we strongly recommend arriving on foot, by public transportation or by bicycle. Most marinas with a view of the Ship Canal or Lake Union have locked gates with entry available only to their tenants, we ask you please respect those.

The following list of participating boats was published by and we're adding it here for those who will be able to view the boats as they make the journey through the canal and into Lake Union. The Glorybe and the Keewaydin were both in the original parade on July 4, 1917! Let's see who will be here in 2117.