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

Contact us at friendsofthelocks@gmail.com

Monday, July 15, 2019

Albert and Emil Abrahamson

Recently, an old family photo was discovered which shows two brothers along with their work crew, standing in front of what was called the "Brigger House". Owned by the Brigger family, it was subsequently moved to it's present location, and is today identified as the Lockspot, situated just outside the gates of the Chittenden Locks. The photo predates the opening of the locks, and so would have been taken in the early to mid 1910's.




More than a century later, descendants of Albert Abrahamson, visited the site and celebrated the occasion with a family photo. If you look closely, you will notice the family resemblance in the folded arm pose, which is apparently a family trait which has been handed down through many generations.



Peter Burg, in the blue jacket is Albert Abrahamson's great grandson. He found the original photo above, and provided a lineup of the personnel in the recent photo.

In the picture from left to right:
Jeslyn Burg, Isabella Lee, Michelle Lee, Leslie Burg, Danielle Yahn, Pete Burg, Piper Yahn, Nicholas Lee, Elisabeth Lee, Christopher Burg
From Pete Burg's email: "So I would be the great grandson of Al. My children; Christopher, Danielle and Michelle would be his great great.  Danielle and Michelle's children, Piper, Nicholas, Elisabeth and Isabella would be his great great great.  Leslie is my wife and Jeslyn is Chris's wife. Michelle (Lee) family lives in North Bend WA.  All others live in Colorado.   Our picture was taken on 05/16/19 by Michelle's husband Brian Lee.  I tried to stage the picture so I would be in Al's spot and Chris would be in Emil's spot"..

We recently met with Emil's descendents, and they also provided some additional information. Emil was included in Seattle's 1910 census, with a Ballard address and listed his occupation as dredging. It would seem likely that he, and probably his brother, worked for a dredging company, for the completion of the ship canal. We found a few photos in the collection of dredging occurring before the locks were opened and will add them here.

Dredge near lower end of Lock before railroad bridge was constructed. Showing line of proposed GNRR bridge.

25 Dec 1911
Erickson Construction Co"s dipper dredge at work on channel between Puget Sound ad Shishole Bay

25 Jan 1917
Dredging before cofferdam

Feb 1911
 
If anyone else has family photos related to the locks and can offer them for posting, please contact us.

Photo of Abrahamson brothers with crew, property of Pete Burg and used with permission.
Recent family photo was taken on 05/16/19 by Michelle's husband Brian Lee.
All other photos are property of US Army Corps of Engineers, and used with permission.

Monday, May 20, 2019

2019 free summer concert
series at the Locks


June

1    Boeing Employees Concert Band

Saturday, June 1 @ 2:00 p.m.

2    Emerald City Saxophone Quartet

Sunday, June 2 @ 2:00 p.m.

8    Barneleikarringen

Saturday, June 8 @ 2:00 p.m.

9     Highline Community Symphonic Band

Sunday, June 9 @ 2:00 p.m.

15    Musica Molida

Saturday, June 15 @ 2:00 p.m.

16   Mustangs Northwest at the Locks

Sunday, June 16 @ 2:00 p.m.

16    Elliott Bay Pipe Band

Sunday, June 16 @ 2:00 p.m.

19    Clayton Productions

Wednesday, June 19 @ 12:00 p.m.

22    Eastside Modern Jazz

Saturday, June 22 @ 2:00 p.m.

23    Cascadia Big Band

Sunday, June 23 @ 2:00 p.m.

29    Greenwood Concert Band

Saturday, June 29 @ 2:00 p.m.

30    85th Street Big Band

Sunday, June 30 @ 2:00 p.m.

Monday, March 18, 2019

SERVICE FOR TWELVE: FEEDING THE CREW OF THE SNAGBOAT PRESTON



Researched and written by Eleanor Boba


We described once before some aspects of the storied career of the W.T. Preston, the snagboat that served the Corps of Engineers and the people of Puget Sound for more than half a century, 1929-1981. We are fortunate to have access to a series of oral histories conducted by Pam Negri in 1981 and 1982 with officers and crewmembers of the vessel. The oral history project was commissioned by the Corps of Engineers, Seattle District.



The W.T. Preston, with its sternwheel kicking up a wake, July 14, 1959. The Preston was home-berthed at the Ballard Locks. Photographer, Dietz.

Today we’re focusing on the care and feeding of the crew. The Preston served as home away from home for its crew of 12 to 14 men. Keeping these men fed and happy was a challenging job requiring creativity, flexibility, and good management and budgeting skills, a job that fell entirely to the cook and assistant cook.



Lee Fox slices roast beef while Gary Hunter stands by, July 14, 1959. Photographer, Dietz

Early Days

Many of the men on the Preston rose up through the ranks. Captain Norman A. Hamburg started out as cabin boy. He recalled the difficulty of obtaining and keeping fresh produce onboard in the early days.

“In the summer time, it was quite interesting because where we pulled up to the bank there, the farmers always had a liking to the snag boat. They would bring down the fresh vegetables and corn and invite the crew to come up and pick strawberries, raspberries, cherries or whatever was available in the summertime. Another thing we always cherished was fresh milk. We had no refrigeration onboard at that time. The cook would get enough supplies to last a week, then we had an ice box and we’d get about 12 quarts of milk- had to use that up pretty fast, because the ice didn’t last very long in the icebox. So, those 12 quarts would go pretty quick. When we stopped there, the farmers knew our conditions and they used to bring down a gallon of milk and we really cherished that- to have in our cereal in the mornings”. (Hamburg, tape 10)

The Preston went into service for the Engineering Department (Corps of Engineers) in 1929, on the cusp of the Great Depression. Captain Hamburg commented on those tough times:

“The cook had to take and put everything under a lock and key. We had a vegetable locker outside that acted as a cooler. Every evening, he would have to bring his lettuce, tomatoes, and things like that in because, during the depression, there was a lot of people out of work and we had a lot of things that would be stolen if it wasn’t brought in- laying in the docks in Seattle. There were people just coming aboard looking for a hand-out all the time.” (Ibid.)




Cook Eddie J. Padden in the galley, surrounded by the tools of his trade. September 19, 1967.

OLD MEETS NEW

While Captain Hamburg remembered the days before refrigeration, Jon Lynch, the last cook on the Preston, boasted of having two refrigerators and a large freezer, as well as a “walk-in refrigerator that’s no longer being used as refrigerator because the insulation wore out some years ago. So, I just use it as a store room now.” (Lynch, tape 5A)

Lynch was also proud of his top-of-the-line Kitchen Aide dishwasher. It seems the previous dishwasher, bought cheap, had lasted only about a year: “The door was sprung somehow, and I’m not sure but I think that someone tried to sleep in there once. After that it was a piece of junk…Some of these evenings get pretty rowdy.” (ibid.)

By contrast, Lynch cooked on an ancient oil-burning range that had to be started up each morning by one of the firemen on board. Someone told him the range dated from 1893 which, if true, might mean it was inherited from the original Puget Sound snagboat, the Skagit. Such a stove provided radiant heat, but did not offer much in the way of temperature control. Lynch noted that the oven temperature would quickly rise to about 600 degrees.

No Okra!

Or turnips, or rutabaga. Other than that, Cook Lynch found that the boys would eat just about anything he planned: “Meat, potatoes, salad, vegetables, gravy, sauces, soups. Pretty much whatever you would have at home, only more so.” (Ibid.)

Rough Weather

Lynch recalled one particularly rough crossing.

“Once, when we went to Port Townsend about six or seven years ago. It became really rough. This boat does not take any kind of weather at all, and it was rough. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the guys were seasick. It was really surprising how much this boat took. And it was really difficult to work on the stove. Everything [was] sliding back and forth. We don’t have any guardrails on board that stove. So, it was interesting, holding everything on there without having anything fall to the deck. It was really interesting, but I managed it.” (ibid.)

The Preston was designed for work on inland rivers and waterways. In the latter part of her career she was more frequently called upon to work in open water. This was one reason the boat was retired.

Place settings

The cook or cooks (there were usually two) were responsible for getting meals on time to all officers and crew, and this did not happen in one place. Officers were served in the wardroom, adjacent to the galley, while the rest of the crew ate “down below.” Food could be lowered down via a dumbwaiter in the galley. The cooks had to set up and serve food in both locations. If the captain chose to remain at his post at the wheelhouse, his meal would need to be sent up to him, an additional chore. Sandy Welsh, the last skipper of the Preston recalled these times: “It didn't bother me to eat up here. I know there were a few times when the cooks would get upset because they would have to prepare the meal and bring it up here, but that was part of their job, just like it's my job to run the vessel.” (Welsh, tape 25)



Noon meal in the wardroom, the officers’ mess. Left to right: William W. Morgan, 2nd Mate; Norman O. Ronning, 1st Mate; Captain Norman A. Hamburg; Elbert D. Becker, Acting Chief Engineer. September 19, 1967.


“Everybody’s favorite cook”

Fritz Rydberg’s name comes up often when researching the Preston. Rydberg served on the snagboats for forty years, most of that time as cook aboard the Preston. Easily recognizable in photos by his stature, he was often called “Little Fritz.” According to Captain Norman Ronning, Fritz was everybody’s favorite cook: “He was very dedicated. Took his job very seriously, and always wanted to please everybody that he could. He really done a good job.” (Ronning, tape 14)

Rydberg received a number of awards for service during his career. At his retirement party on April 7, 1952, he was given a radio equipped with a short-wave band “so he can listen in on ship talk when he gets tired of landlubber programs [as well as] a diamond-studded lapel pin with the emblem of the Corps of Engineers.” (Seattle Daily Times, April 8, 1952). He also received the Exceptional Civilian Service Award. The Anacortes Museum and Maritime Heritage Center preserves a number of photos of Rydberg, along with his prized recipe box complete with recipes. According to the museum, Rydberg was known for his large, hard sugar cookies, which crewmembers would sometimes toss to children along the shore. Rydberg passed away in 1969 at the age of 76.




Fritz Rydberg at the ancient oil-fired range and oven. This photo, taken on the day of his retirement party and appearing in the Seattle Daily Times the next day, was probably staged for the cameras. No food in the skillet!


Fritz Rydberg is honored on the occasion of his retirement from the snagboat service. He is presented with a short-wave radio, April 7, 1952.


The End of the Game: Surf and Turf

Prior to the official retirement of the Preston in 1981, the officers and crew commiserated with one last meal together. Jon Lynch described the lunch to Pam Negri:

“Well, we had a bottle of booze, we had expensive steak, and we had 8 oz. lobster tail imported from Maine. The steak was 10 oz. each…I imagine those people down at the office were slightly stunned to see $99.28 for lobster. That was for 12 of them [in 1981]. Then, one bottle of booze does not go around this table with anything left over. That was it, one small drink apiece to say Bon Voyage. That was all, that was the end of the game.” (Lynch, ibid.)




All oral histories referenced are in the custody of the Anacortes Museum and Maritime Heritage Center (as is the Preston, herself); all photos are held in the Corps of Engineers collection, in the care of Friends of the Ballard Locks.

And here's a link to some of the history of the Puget Sound snagboats, referred to earlier.

Link to earlier article on Puget Sound Snagboats








http://blog.friendsoftheballardlocks.org/2017/11/snagboats-on-puget-sound-brief-photo.html

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Wallingford Historic Homes Fair October 6, 2018




Dredging the canal in the Wallingford area in the early 1900's.  Photo: courtesy of  US Army Corps of Engineers

 While the Centennial of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Chittenden Locks were celebrated last year, it's always a good time to remember the history of Seattle and it's various neighborhoods and how they've been altered due to the growth and development of the region. One of those areas, Wallingford, is going to have a festival promoting historic homes and will have exhibitors and other resources available for those interested. The following info was provided by Historic Wallingford.







The Wallingford neighborhood is built on a patchwork of early-day plats through which streetcar lines developed in the early 20th century. Today, the neighborhood is a rich tapestry of residential architecture that reflects Seattle’s heyday of development, and it remains one of the City’s best collections of Craftsman bungalows. Historic Wallingford invites you to learn more about the value and care of these irreplaceable old homes.

Find practical advice, inspiration and historical information regarding the wide array of architecture in Wallingford and Seattle.

Mark your calendars for the Wallingford Historic Homes Fair. Saturday, October 6th from 10-4 at the Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N. , Seattle, 98103

At the Wallingford Historic Homes Fair you will find:
  • Exhibitors offering ideas and services to help maintain, update and care for vintage homes.
  • Educational information about the styles of vintage residential architecture, what makes them unique and how to update them respectfully.
  • A showing of the film: “Bungalow Heaven, preservation of a neighborhood” about citizen efforts to honor a neighborhood in Pasadena, California.
  • A discussion on historic preservation through designation and districts.
  • Take in a Virtual Walk through Wallingford and its Architectural Gems with historian, Tom Veith.
  • Ask an Expert tables with a variety of topics, from building loans, using a realtor, masonry repairs, City permit requirements, and more.
  • Hands-on instruction on researching the history of your home on the web.
For more information and to register go to

Historic Wallingford was incorporated in 2017 and launched a program of educational activities intending to promote civic pride and involvement in this historic neighborhood in 2018.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Celebration

Researched and written by Susan Connole

A more austere looking lock site in 1916


 While the locks went into operation in July 1916 much work still needed to be done to complete the planned Lake Washington Ship Canal. But first- a celebration.


Large lock opening Aug. 3 1916

On August 3 the community gathered at the large lock to watch the snag boat Swinomish followed by the survey vessel Orcas, enter the large lock from Salmon Bay to be lowered to Puget Sound, then turn around and return to Salmon Bay. Newspapers recorded the crowd cheering as the boats passed and speeches commemorating the event were given. Col. J.B. Cavanaugh, who oversaw construction, and Judges Roger Greene and Thomas Burke, both long time advocates of the ship canal, were praised for their comments.

It would still be awhile before the dam in Fremont was removed and a channel dredged so vessels could enter Lake Union.


Opening Montlake Cut photo from UW Special Collections

Meanwhile, the Montlake cut was still under construction between Lakes Union and Washington. Then on August 25 the engineers ordered the removal of the cofferdam holding back the water of Lake Union. As workers with shovels began to dig, the first small trickle increased dramatically and nearby onlookers scrambled for higher ground. It took about an hour for the cut to fill, completing another portion of the ship canal.

042.011

The last, critical step of the project was the lowering of Lake Washington. So far, the locks and dam have been built, the water of Salmon Bay has been raised from sea level to the level of Lake Union and a channel has been cut from Lake Union up to Lake Washington, but Lake Washington has not yet been connected, it is still about 10 feet higher than Lake Union, held back by a wooden dam.

On August 28 the gates of the dam were opened slightly to begin releasing water into the Montlake cut, it then took several months for the lake to slowly draw down to the level of Lake Union. By late October the water of the lakes and canals were at level but   dredging still needed to be done at both ends of the Montlake cut to create a channel for larger boats to pass through.

An unidentified schooner outbound in 1916

By the end of August 1916, 1,558 vessels had passed through the locks, including 666 tugboat passages, 140 fishing boat passages, and 190 barge passages. Passenger vessels went through 152 times, sightseeing through the locks on the excursion boat Sioux was a popular outing.  Records are still kept today, the lock wall operators tally the small lock and the lock master in the control tower records traffic in the large lock.

First locking crew in 1917

The completion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal altered the course of history for Seattle, opening up the fresh water lakes allowed commerce to expand away from the downtown core and expand the city eastward. Today it is not only an important part of the Seattle economy but a major tourist destination.


From the Seattle Times Aug.6 1916 touting the immediate success of the canal and locks operation


All photos are used courtesy of the US Army Corps of Engineers except where noted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

102nd Anniversary of Small Lock Opening

Researched and written by Susan Connole

By Spring of 1916 Seattle’s long-dreamed-of ship canal was becoming reality.




Montlake Cut in 1916




While the locks were being constructed at the west end of Salmon Bay a small waterway was kept open along the south shore so boats could continue to move between Puget Sound and the bay. When the large lock was completed in February 1916 the gates were kept open and the tidal water then flowed through the lock so the small shipping channel could be blocked off to build the spillway dam.



May 27, 1916


On July 12, 1916, with the small lock completed, the gates of both locks were closed to stop the flow of water coming down from Lake Union and Salmon Bay began rise.

It took about 3 weeks for the bay to attain the planned level but on July 25 the Engineering Dept. survey boat “Orcas” entered the small lock and became the first vessel to be raised from Puget Sound to the new higher level of Salmon Bay. No longer would boats have to wait for a high tide to use the small shipping channel, the locks allowed them full-time access to Salmon Bay.

"Orcas" entering the small lock. July 25, 1916
"Orcas" raised in small lock. July 25, 1916

 Much dredging still needed to be done to establish shipping channels and construction was progressing on the Fremont and Montlake canals but the locks were in operation. During that first month in 1916 there were 304 lockages in the large lock and 830 lockages in the small lock.

And Seattleites like to party. Next week- the opening celebration and onward to Lake Washington.

Large lock in action 1916.
All photographs are courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Thursday, May 24, 2018

2018 Summer Concert Schedule

Here is the upcoming summer concert schedule. A text version will hopefully be added soon.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Ballard Locks & Puget Sound Archaeology



Ballard Locks & Puget Sound Archaeology




From http://ballardlocks.org/ comes an invitation to attend a talk by the Suquamish Historic Preservation Officer which should be of great interest to many.  You can use the following link to learn more and register as seating will be limited to 50 people.

Description of the event


"Discover a bit of ancient history connected with the Locks. Dennis Lewarch, Suquamish Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, will address how sea level rise after the most recent Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, likely affected land use practice by the first arrivals to the Puget. Sea levels were a few hundred feet lower when the earliest inhabitants arrived and many things have changed since then. Dennis offers an interesting glimpse into the changes that took place as sea level rise changed both living conditions and food sources."

Be sure to look around on the ballardlocks.org site to find many other activities and talks of interest to the community.