Northwest Seaport

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Northwest Seaport
Predecessor Save Our Ships
Formation 1964 (1964)
Coordinates 47°37′36″N 122°20′13″W / 47.62667°N 122.33694°W / 47.62667; -122.33694

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.

Northwest Seaport is adjacent to the Center for Wooden Boats on the shore of Lake Union in downtown Seattle.[citation needed]

History of the organization[edit]

Northwest Seaport was founded in the early 1960s as the Save Our Ships project to save the Wawona. Save Our Ships bought the Wawona in 1964, followed by the light ship Relief.


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.

Historic fleet[edit]

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:

Tugboat Arthur Foss[edit]

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.[1][2] 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.[1]

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.[3] The vessel was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989[4][5] and is a city landmark as well.[6] 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[edit]

Lightship No. 83, aka Swiftsure, built in 1904, is one of Northwest Seaport's historic fleet.

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,[4][5] and is on the Washington State Heritage Register. She is moored on Lake Union, in Seattle, Washington, for restoration.

Fishing troller Twilight[edit]

Twilight is a 36-foot (11 m) fishing vessel. Launched from Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal in 1933, she trolled in the Pacific until the 1980s, and came to Northwest Seaport in 2000.[7]

Schooner Wawona[edit]


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.

Wawona was 165 feet (50 m) long with a 35-foot (11 m) beam. Her masts, before being cut down, were 110 feet (34 m) tall.

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.[8] 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. Some parts of the Wawona were donated to be used on the C.A. Thayer in San Francisco.[9]


Northwest Seaport partners with a number of organizations responsible for the upkeep of other vessels moored at the Historic Ships Wharf.

Fireboat Duwamish[edit]


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).[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

"Mosquito Fleet" steamer Virginia V[edit]

Virginia V in 2007

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.

Today the steamer operates from Heritage Wharf at Lake Union Park in Seattle.


  1. ^ a b The History of the Arthur Foss, Northwest Seaport. Retrieved 01 March 2008.
  2. ^ Filmography in Seattle, HistoryLink. Retrieved 01 March 2008.
  3. ^ Arthur Foss, Maritime Heritage Network. Retrieved 01 March 2008.
  4. ^ a b "ARTHUR FOSS (Tugboat)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  5. ^ a b James P. Delgado (July 9, 1988), National Register of Historic Places Registration: Arthur Foss, ex-Wallowa / Tugboat Arthur Foss (PDF), National Park Service  and Accompanying five photos, exterior and interior, from 1988 (816 KB) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "nrhpinv2" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ Landmarks Alphabetical Listing for T, Individual Landmarks, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  7. ^ "1933 Fishing Troller TWILIGHT". Northwest Seaport. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  8. ^ Landmarks Alphabetical Listing for S, Individual Landmarks, City of Seattle. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  9. ^ "Partner Vessels". Northwest Seaport. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 

External links[edit]