The Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization in Seattle, Washington dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Puget Sound and Northwest Coast maritime heritage, expressed through educational programs and experiences available to the public. The organization owns several large historic vessels moored at the Historic Ships' Wharf in Seattle's Lake Union Park.
These vessels, especially the 1889 wooden tugboat Arthur Foss, are used as platforms for a variety of public programs, ranging from shows and festivals to restoration workshops.
History of the organization
Northwest Seaport offers a variety of programs meant to reach a broad audience. Some programs are conducted in partnership with the Center for Wooden Boats.
The Historic Fleet
Several boats and ships moored in South Lake Union make up the collection of Northwest Seaport. As of 2007 these vessels are on the National Register of Historic Places:
The Duwamish reigned as one of the most powerful fireboats in the United States several times over her 75-year working life. Built in 1909 in Seattle for the Seattle Fire Department, she was equipped with three American LaFrance steam piston pumps rated at a capacity of 3,000 gallons per minute (11,000 lpm) each. After an upgrade in 1949, the pumps delivered a total of 22,800 gallons per minute (86,300 lpm). This capacity was only exceeded in 2003 by the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Warner Lawrence, which delivers 38,000 gallons per minute (143,000 lpm).
Duwamish is 120 feet (64 m) long with a 28-foot (8.5 m) beam and a 9.6-foot (2.9 m) draft. Her registered gross tonnage is 322 tons (292 metric ton). Retired in 1985, Duwamish was purchased by the Puget Sound Fireboat Foundation, which is maintaining and restoring the vessel. The Duwamish is active in the local Sea Scouts organization, a program of the Boy Scouts of America. The vessel is moored at South Lake Union Park in Seattle. Visitors may board the vessel when volunteer staff is available.
Tugboat Arthur Foss
The tugboat Arthur Foss, built in 1889, is one of the oldest wooden-hulled tugboats afloat in the United States. In 1898, in response to the Alaskan gold rush, she transported barges full of gold seeking miners and supplies up the Inside Passage. There are no other Alaskan Gold Rush vessels still operating today. She was cast by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio to play in its 1933 production Tugboat Annie. In World War II, Arthur Foss journeyed south to join the war effort. Before the Battle of Wake Island began in late 1941, she was the last vessel to get away. After the war she was used in the timber industry.
The Arthur Foss has a six-cylinder, 700 horsepower (520 kW) diesel engine. Her top speed is 13 knots (24 km/h). The vessel is 120 feet (37 m) long with a beam of 25 feet (7.6 m) and a draft of 16 feet (4.9 m). When last operated the vessel was owned by Foss Launch and Tug (now Foss Maritime) who donated her to Northwest Seaport in 1970. Northwest Seaport renovated her in 2004. The vessel was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989 and is a city landmark as well. and a featured attraction at Seattle's new South Lake Union Park. The vessel is open for public tours on most summer weekends, or by appointment.
Lightboat Swiftsure, previously known as Relief
Lightship #83, now called Swiftsure, is a lightvessel launched in Camden, New Jersey, in 1904 and now moored in Seattle, Washington. She steamed around the tip of South America to her first station at Blunts Reef in California, where she saved 150 people when their ship ran aground in dense fog. Formerly known as Relief, Number 83 had numerous names on her sides, all of which indicated the location of her station. Swiftsure refers to the Swiftsure Bank near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates Washington from Vancouver Island. She also guided ships near Umatilla Reef and the Columbia River Bar.
Swiftsure is one of the oldest lightships in the country and the only one to have her original steam engines. She is 129 feet long, with a beam of 28 feet, six inches and a draft of 12 feet, six inches. Her displacement is 668 tons. Her aids to navigation include a 1,000 watt primary light, a 140-decibel Diaphone horn, and a 1,000 pound foredeck fog bell.
The ship was decommissioned in 1960, and purchased by Northwest Seaport in 1969. She is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989, and is on the Washington State Heritage Register. She is moored on Lake Union, in Seattle, Washington, for restoration.
"Mosquito Fleet" steamer Virginia V
The steamship Virginia V (the "V" representing the Roman numeral five) is the last operational example of a Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet steamer. She was once part of a large fleet of small passenger and freight carrying ships that linked the islands and ports of Puget Sound in Washington State in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Virginia V is a National Historic Landmark Vessel.
Her original route was between the cities of Tacoma and Seattle, along the West Pass (also known as “Colvos Passage”) between Vashon Island and the Kitsap Peninsula. The Virginia V is a "partner" vessel, and owned and operated by the Virginia V Foundation, is not part of NW Seaport's historic fleet that includes the tug A Foss, lightship Swiftsure and the former timber schoone Wawona.
Today the steamer operates from Heritage Wharf at Lake Union Park in Seattle.
The three-masted, fore-and-aft schooner Wawona sailed from 1897 to 1947 as a lumber carrier and fishing vessel based in Puget Sound. The schooner was built in California's Humboldt Bay by H.D. Bendixsen, one of the most important West Coast shipbuilders of the late 19th century. From 1897 to 1913, she carried lumber from Grays Harbor and Puget Sound ports to California. One of her captains, Ralph E. "Matt" Peasley, inspired a series of popular novels.
She was berthed at South Lake Union Park in Seattle adjacent to the Center for Wooden Boats. She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Washington State Heritage Register, and the vessel was an official city landmark. However, after efforts to restore the decaying ship failed, she was dismantled in March 2009. After conferring with many experts in the maritime heritage field, locally and across the nation, Northwest Seaport created a plan to preserve key artifacts from the vessel. Graduate Students from East Carolina University's graduate program in nautical archaeology documented the WAWONA during the Wooden Boat Festival on 4-6 July 2008. In March, 2009, the vessel was carefully deconstructed in a local shipyard and artifacts (including wooden knees, beams, and paneling) removed for storage and later display in on-land exhibits and memorials.
|ARTHUR FOSS (tugboat)||Officially listed in Kirkland, Washington but now
docks at Northwest Seaport, South Lake Union Park
|Excursion Boat Virginia V||Docks at Northwest Seaport, South Lake Union Park||Seattle landmark
|Fireboat Duwamish||Docks at Northwest Seaport, South Lake Union Park||Seattle landmark
|Lightship Relief / Swiftsure||Docks at Northwest Seaport, South Lake Union Park||Seattle landmark
|Dismantled in March, 2009..||Seattle landmark
- The History of the Arthur Foss, Northwest Seaport. Retrieved 01 March 2008.
- Filmography in Seattle, HistoryLink. Retrieved 01 March 2008.
- Arthur Foss, Maritime Heritage Network. Retrieved 01 March 2008.
- "ARTHUR FOSS (Tugboat)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- James P. Delgado (July 9, 1988), National Register of Historic Places Registration: Arthur Foss, ex-Wallowa / Tugboat Arthur Foss, National Park Service and PDF (816 KB)
- Landmarks Alphabetical Listing for T, Individual Landmarks, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
- Landmarks Alphabetical Listing for S, Individual Landmarks, City of Seattle. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Northwest Seaport.|
- Northwest Seaport - official site
- Maritime Heritage Network, a directory of maritime history resources, attractions, and organizations in the Puget Sound area.
- Slideshow of the Final Voyage of the Wawona