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banner - autobiography of James s. lawson


Library Introduction
The Pioneer Years
Heading to California
The First Year
The Columbia River Country and Points South
Cape Flattery
Point Reyes, Drakes Bay, and the Los Angeles Base Line
Puget Sound and the Gulf of Georgia

Puget Sound and the Gulf of Georgia

At the conclusion of this work, the party returned to San Francisco, and on July 6th started on the Steamer Active to assist in the Reconnaissance of the Northern Coast. In this work the steamer was run at a slow speed, and as close to shore as was safe; the courses were taken by compass, and distances by patent log, and the shores sketched as we progressed. Prominent hills, points, and outlying rocks were determined by cross bearings and sextant angles. We came to anchor each afternoon, in time to permit the erection of the observatory, a small portable house, made in panels, and quickly erected, set up the instrument block &c. In this way observations for time and latitude were obtained about every 40 miles, between which the running of the steamer could be readily reduced and plotted. As soon as we came to anchor at any place, it was my duty to locate the observatory and get the instruments on the ground. Mr. Davidson made the observations, and I recorded. Whenever desirable and practicable, sketches were made of our anchorages, I making or assisting in the topography, and the officers of the steamer executing the hydrography. In the sketching of the coast both Mr. D. and I assisted the hydrographic party.

While lying at Port Orford, on this trip, the Steamer Columbia arrived. On her came Mr. George Farquhar, draughtsman for the Hydrographic party, bringing mails for us. Official letters for Lieut. Alden and Mr. Davidson, ordered them to proceed to the Canal de Haro, and make surveys through that channel. This was at the beginning of the mooted question as to which channel, that or the Rosario Strait, formed the proper boundary between Vancouver Id. and the main, as referred to in the Treaty of 1846. I was immediately ordered by Mr. Davidson to proceed to San F., and bring up the camp equipage, instruments, and stores necessary for the party. Mr. D. received his instructions after 10 P.M. and at midnight I left on the Columbia going via Portland, Oregon, as the steamer made no stops on her down trip. By her return from San F., I rejoined the Active at Astoria, the reconnaissance between Port Orford and Columbia River having been made during my absence.

Enroute to the scene of our work, the Active called at Victoria, Vancouver Id., that proper official calls should be made upon the Governor of the Colony, Sir James Douglas, and that all information likely to assist us in our operations might be obtained. We got into the harbor on a Sunday morning, a bright, beautiful day. Victoria was then merely a Hudson's Bay Co's post, with its stockade, bastions at the diagonal corners, and within the enclosure were the offices, storehouses &c., and contained very few inhabitants save those connected with the Co. In the afternoon several of the Officers and attaches of the Company paid a visit on board, and a pleasant time was passed in the interchange of ideas and descriptions, novel to both parties. During the conversation, the subject of firearms was brought up, and Colt's revolvers were shown; these were the first that some of the gentlemen had ever seen. From arms to their use was a very easy transition, and I am afraid that our people drew a series of extremely "long bows" when descanting on the ease with which our American rifleman would split a bullet on the edge of a knife, or cut a hair suspending a weight at a distance of 100 or 200 yards.

The English gentlemen spoke of the very fine sport in grouse and partridge shooting to be had within a short distance of the Post, and invited such of the officers as could go, to a hunt the next morning. They also told of a cougar, that for six weeks past had been preying upon their sheep, pigs, colts and small stock, but that their hunters had as yet failed to bag him.

The next morning several made ready for the sport, among them Mr. Davidson and (now Capt.) Wm. H. Fauntleroy. I not being much of a nimrod, and having no shooting iron did not go, but was detailed to escort Mrs. Alden who had been invited ashore by some of the ladies to see Victoria and its surroundings; Lieut. Alden was engaged with the Governor.

The shooting party had excellent luck, and after a few hours sat down to rest, the day being warm. The conversation turned upon the cougar, and while discussing the probabilities of coming across him, Fauntleroy, who was a splendid rifle-shot, and disdained the use of a shotgun, rose to his feet, saying "There he goes," at the same time bringing his rifle to bear. He saw that the fellow would have to pass an open space between a bush and the edge of woods; just as the cougar was making the spring Fauntleroy fired, and the animal fell. In the meantime Mr. Davidson had run forward some distance, at the same time dropping a rifle cartridge into his shotgun, and as the cougar fell, he fired, sending a ball through the heart. Our people were, of course, much elated at their success, and so were the Englishmen; at the same time the latter were astonished that the Yankees had done in a few hours what they had failed to do in several weeks

Sending to a farm house close at hand some help was procured to carry in the animal to be skinned. He measured 9 1/2 ft. from tip to tip. On the way Mr. Davidson was some 60 or 70 yds. ahead of Fauntleroy. Exhilarated by success, and thoughtless of possible consequences, D. put his hat (of the "stove-pipe" variety) over the muzzle of his gun, placed this in front of his face, so that the brim of the hat just touched the crown of his head, cried out "Hallo! Faunt, want a shot?" Fauntleroy made no answer save the very expressive motion of bringing his rifle down, and firing. I cannot think that D. expected him to shoot, until he saw the aim taken; then recollecting all the yarns of the day before, he did not dare to back down, nor move. The bullet went through the hat about 2 inches above the band, struck the gun and divided, one part going through either barrel. The astonishment of the English was inexpressible, at the same time it was mixed with terror at the risk. When they reasoned with D. he replied "he knew what F. could do." But suppose he had killed you?" "Why you would have to bury me!"

It was just after this that I, with the ladies, came up with the party. Noticing their great exhilaration, I asked the cause and was told. All danger was then over, but I felt as if suddenly turned to stone. I believe my heart stopped beating; but regaining the use of my faculties, thinking of the foolhardiness of the matter, and my love for him as a boy and a man, but forgetting he was my superior officer, I called him a D----- fool. However, "All's well that ends well." This exploit was spoken of years after, and I suppose it is remembered to this day by those then and now living at Victoria.

Our work for the Canal de Haro was commenced at the S.E. part of the Gulf of Georgia. The Astronomical Station was on a low point on N.E. side of Lummi Id., in Hal's Passage, and the base line located on Sandy Pt. at the mouth of the Lummi River. From this base the triangulation was carried between the Matia, Sucia, and Patos groups of islands on the North and Orcas and Waldron Ids. on the South, to the Canal, and thence between the islands forming its boundaries. As our time was brief, our work was necessarily rapid; I went ahead erecting signals. Mr. Davidson followed with the theodolite, the Active and her boats taking the soundings. The work was carried to between Henry and Sydney Ids. Returning from erecting signals one day I found Mr. D. confined to bed from some severe affection of the knee, suffering extreme pain, and utterly disabling him. Lieut. Alden would not wait for his recovery, or while I could execute the triangulation, but ceased operations, and ran for Esquimalt. The next day I went with some of the officers to Victoria, but was soon surprised by seeing the Active enter the harbor with her Cornet flying--the signal for all belonging on board to get there immediately. It seems that some men hearing there was an American vessel at Esquimalt, came over and reported Indian troubles, murder of a white man &c. at New Dungeness, and Capt. Alden determined to go and investigate. We went over that P.M., and both whites and Indians were examined. It was known who committed the murder, but he had escaped. We went to Port Townsend, where the chief's son (the Duke of York) was taken on board, and held as a hostage. Other Indians were also taken, knowing the guilty party, and these were sent up Hood's Canal in charge of Mr. Henry C. Wilson from Port Gamble. They returned with the murderer, and he was taken by the Active to Steilacoom and turned over to the Commanding Officer of the Garrison. While awaiting the return of Mr. Wilson from the Canal, the Active remained at Port Gamble. Capt. Keller had arrived there a short time before with the machinery for a sawmill, and had just set the boilers. This was the commencement of the largest mills on Puget Sound, those of Pope & Talbot, now called the Puget Mill Co.

About this time Gov. I. I. Stevens was expected to arrive at Olympia. He had been a Major in the Corps of Engineers, U.S.A., and for some years was Assistant in charge of the Coast Survey office, but had resigned his position in the Army on being appointed Governor of Washington Territory by President Pierce. He had not arrived; but we spent a very pleasant day at Olympia, which, if it is small today, was then diminutive.

Returning, we went to Bellingham Bay to take some coal from the mine of which Capt. Bill Howard ( as he was usually known) was Superintendent. It was a grand failure; it would hardly make enough steam to turn the wheels, and of clinker and ashes about double the volume was taken out of the furnaces that was put in. After a brief call at Victoria, we started for San F., Capt. Howard going with us. He got in the habit of calling me Joe Johnson (afterward the famous Confederate General) whom Howard said I much resembled. I intimated that my own name suited me best, but he persisted. I dubbed him Humphrey Clinker; he saw the point, and subsided. Lieut. Alden called at Columbia River for mail on the way down the coast, and from there started for San F. direct. After passing Pt. Arena a course was laid for Pt. Reyes. When this land should have been seen, it was not; the vessel was hauled up to the Eastward, and it was several hours before the land was made. The vessel had been set, from some cause (?local attraction) off her course. The Columbia, which arrived the same night had the same experience. It also happened once to us in the Fauntleroy, and I have spoken to shipmasters to whom the same phenomenon occurred. We arrived at San Francisco on Oct. 23rd, 1853.

Having everything in readiness, on Dec. 8th I started for Tomales Bay, on the Schooner Victory. A friend, Mr. Snead, went with me, to enjoy some of the pleasures of sea and camp life. A change was certainly afforded, the pleasures rather doubtful. On the 9th we had quite a S.E. blow, and had to "lay to;" on the 10th, the Captain of the Schooner determined to cross the bar, the wind having moderated. He had been there but once before this trip, and with no well distinguished marks or ranges, and considerable sea running, he got out of the channel, and we struck, pounding heavily. It took but a few minutes to show that the vessel would be a total loss. The Captain was at the wheel until he had an unceremonious notice to quit; a breaker striking the rudder, forced the wheel from his grasp, and throwing him with such violence against the bulwark, as for a time to render him almost insensible. I fortunately had with me a fine whale-boat; this was launched as soon as possible, and by repeated trips, until the Schooner was driven so far up on the rocky beach as to be dangerous to approach her, I succeeded in saving all instruments, tents, and a large portion of the cargo of others as well as my own. During the night the Schooner was made a complete wreck, yet still held together so that at low water she could be readily reached, when the remaining portion of the cargo was obtained, but in a damaged condition.

A topographical survey of the Entrance and part of the Bay was made, and about Feb. 1st 1854, I returned with the party to San Francisco.

Preparations were at once made by Assist. Davidson for proceeding to Humboldt Bay, and we took passage on the Herm. Brig Glencoe while lying off North Beach, awaiting a wind to go to sea, the Schr. "Sacramento" attempted to drift out with the ebb current, which set her on Fort Point. Seeing her strike, we immediately launched our whale boat to go to her assistance, and after repeated trials succeeded in carrying a hawser to the steam tug Columbia. The effort to save her was a failure; she was too firmly held by the rocks, on which she settled by the fall of the tide, the hawser parted, and she became a total loss.

The next day (Feb. 14th) we went to sea. Our trip was not a pleasant one. We made good time, with S.E. winds to the vicinity of Humboldt Bar, but were detained outside for fourteen days by heavy weather, during which it was impossible for the steam tug (Mary Ann, Capt. Buhne) to come out for us. We did at last cross the Bar without a tug, having a N.W. wind, before the coming of which, we had, in a calm, drifted into very dangerous proximity to the breakers North of the Entrance.

Our camp at Humboldt Bay was made in a clump of trees on the low ground on S. side of Red Bluff, and nearly opposite the Entrance. On the top of this Bluff, and near to the pilot's flagstaff, Assist. Davidson established the observatory, where the Astronomical and Magnetic observations were made. In the meantime I made a tertiary triangulation and topographical survey from and including the town of Eureka to a little more than a mile South of the Entrance. This work being completed the party returned to San Francisco in the latter part of June. While at Humboldt Bay, Assist. Davidson had received authority to purchase a vessel suitable for the party, if such could be found. Thus we could always have means of transportation to any desired part of the coast, a matter that at that time was not only difficult to find, but very expensive. Vessels of the class adapted for our use were then scarce, and in demand, much more so than those of large tonnage, consequently were held at much larger prices. Search was made among the shipping then in port, and the Hermaphrodite Brig Aurelie was selected, and bought for the sum of $8500.00 from her agents, Messrs. Flint, Peabody & Co. She had been lying at anchor, with her cargo still on board, since her arrival from Boston, but was taken to the dock & discharged, and such changes made as would fit her for our use with least expenditure of money or time. In respect to the memory of an Assistant in the Coast Survey with whom Mr. Davidson had served, and who had died in Texas, Mr. D. named the vessel the R. H. Fauntleroy.

On July 10th we sailed for the North, and resumed the work of the previous year in the Archipelago now known as Washington Sound. The triangulation was carried through Rosario Strait from Gulf of Georgia to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the portion of the Canal de Haro left incomplete the previous year on account of the illness of Mr. Davidson, was also executed. About the middle of October we returned to San Francisco.

During this time we had received neither letters or papers; the world's history was a blank. Hearing friends speak of battles, great slaughter &c. we asked what they were talking of; then for the first time did we learn of the Crimean War. It was in this summer that "John Phoenix" had assumed the editorial chair of the San Diego Herald. The series of papers published under his management had been preserved for us by a lady friend, and I can recall, as of yesterday, our screams of laughter as we read them. Our merriment was prolonged into the "wee sma' hours ayont the twal," (we read the papers after retiring to our room in one of the cloth and paper partitioned houses of that date), and at first was contagious. Others hearing our boisterous laughter were greatly amused, but after a while it became to them as monotonous as a "twice told tale," and they begged us to be quiet. I am afraid we were somewhat insubordinate, for which we received some sound lectures on the next morning.

In a few days the Fauntleroy was taken to Benicia, and secured for the winter in a slip at the dock of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. for the purpose of having sundry repairs and changes made, and a set of iron water-tanks built in. Leave of absence having been granted to Mr. Davidson and myself, with permission to go East, we made our preparations, and started on the steamer of Nov. 1st. This was our first visit to the Atlantic Coast since our arrival in June 1850. It was very pleasant to greet the "old folks at home," family and friends, but the winter weather was not to my liking, and I was well satisfied when orders were received for returning.


1855. We arrived at San Francisco, on April 13th, and as soon as possible, started for the North. The triangulation of Admiralty Inlet was commenced at Port Townsend, from a preliminary base line measured on the West side of the Bay. In connection with this work, an Astronomical and Magnetic Station was occupied at Pt. Hudson (near Port Townsend,) and a topographical survey of Port Ludlow was made. In the latter part of the season, when the haze and smoke from forest fires impeded the progress of the triangulation in Admiralty Inlet, we changed the scene of our operations to the Straits of Juan de Fuca, where the smoke was not so dense, and topographical surveys were made of New Dungeness, and Smith's Id., both of which were wanted for Light House purposes. These lights were afterwards established.

We returned to San Francisco in October, for winter quarters, and in the succeeding spring (1856) resumed the work in Admiralty Inlet, in connection with which I made topographical surveys of the harbors of Port Townsend and Port Gamble. As usual we wintered in San Francisco.

1857. On our trip to the North, in the Spring of this year, we experienced a very heavy gale from the N.W., lasting for several days, in which the bowsprit was sprung, bulwarks were stove in and stanchions broken, requiring us to return for repairs. These being completed, the vessel again started.

Mr. Davidson remaining on account of ill health. He afterwards went up by steamer to Columbia River, thence across the country to Olympia, where taking a canoe, he joined the vessel at Pt. Defiance, to which place I had carried the reconnaissance and erected signals.

While Mr. Davidson was carrying on the triangulation, I was detailed for topographical work, making the survey of the Entrance to Hood's Canal connecting with the previous surveys of Ports Gamble and Ludlow and carrying the work eastward to Pt. No Point.

This season was a very smoky one, the worst that had been known for years. Triangulation was impossible, for weeks not an observation was obtained, nor was there any hope of improvement until the rains should set in, and extinguish the fires. Accordingly Mr. Davidson determined to make a reconnaissance of the Gulf of Georgia, where there was a prospect of a clearer atmosphere. We remained there until time to close for the season and return.

On Nov. 1st, [George Davidson testified in court at San Francisco on the famous Limantour Claim fraud on November 3, 1857, so this date is in error.] we started East on our second visit. A few days previous to this date the Mail steamer had arrived, bringing the news of the loss of the Central America (the old George Law) with a frightful loss of life. Among the lost was one of our old classmates and fellow graduate, Geo. H. Ridgway. Our trip was a very pleasant one, until after leaving Havana, where we stopped a few hours. The wind was Northerly, and at first light, but steadily increased until by evening it was blowing a gale, causing a heavy sea. As we were in, and going with, the Gulf Stream our progress was good. As we approached, the next day, the vicinity of the disaster to the Central America, great anxiety prevailed among the passengers, many refusing to retire for the night. The morning after was very pleasant; all appeared with smiling faces, though many jokes were gotten off at the expense of the timid ones.

Before leaving Puget Sound, two fawns of the black-tailed species of deer, were presented to Mr. Davidson and myself. These we undertook to carry to Philadelphia, and succeeded; it was my first, and assuredly will be the last experiment of that kind.

While in the East, Mr. Davidson concluded to remain there a year; the charge of the party was therefore given to me from January 1st, 1859 [This should read 1858.. George Davidson remained in the eastern United States through most of 1858 and then returned on November 14, 1858, to San Francisco with his new bride]. In March, I again set my face towards the setting sun, under orders to work in the Gulf of Georgia. The operations there consisted of a re-measurement by base apparatus, of the Base Line on Sandy Pt. at mouth of Lummi River, the triangulation to the 49th parallel of N. Latitude, and topographical sketches of island, shores, &c. The establishment of the N.W. Boundary was then being made from the Gulf of Georgia along the 49th parallel Eastward towards the Lake of the Woods. The permanent camp of the American Commission (Hon. Archibald Campbell, Commissioner, and Lt. (since Gen., J.G. Parke, U.S.A., Astronomer) was on the North side of Simiahmoe Bay. To this party all the results of my work, as were also the hydrographic surveys by party on C.S. steamer Active, were furnished. The English had no fixed camp; they had two vessels, the Satellite (Capt. Prevost, R.N. British Commissioner) and the Plumper (Capt. G.H. Richards, R.N.). Parties from both commissions were sent out along the Boundary, defining its position, placing monuments. In this work I was engaged during the seasons of 1858 and 1859, the years of the great excitement at Fraser River, and the gold mines. Thousands of men went there; it was no uncommon thing for from 40 to 70 boats or canoes, filled with gold seekers, to pass the vessel in a day.

The San Juan Island difficulty, which almost caused a war between the United States and Great Britain, took place at this time. Fortunately this was averted, and the joint occupation of the Island, as agreed upon between Gen. W. Scott, U.S. Army, and the British Authorities, was decided upon, and continued until the decision of the Emperor William decided the question in favor of the United States.

(I thus cursorily glance at this matter, because I have not at hand the date to enable me to be complete, or exact as regards dates, names, &c., and also as I know a good account will be found in the M.S.S. of Hon. Elwood Evans of Olympia.)

I had met Gen. Scott on his arrival at Port Townsend on the Steamship Northerner, Capt. Wm. H. Dall. As I intended making the trip to San F. on the steamer, instead of on the Fauntleroy, I went up the Sound in her. On our return to Port Townsend, the Northerner went alongside the U.S.S. Massachusetts, a temporary staging was made between the two vessels, and over this the General passed conveniently. I met him again at San Francisco, on his return from the North, while en route to the East. In the meantime I had "taken unto myself a wife;" when this fact was communicated to him, he rose, and with a most friendly grasp of the hand, proffered every good wish for my future.

It might be well here to relate a little anecdote, as told me by Capt. Dall, concerning the General. The P.M.S.S. Co., desiring to render his trip as pleasant as possible, had built an extra-sized berth for him, being a large man, and the better to do this had thrown two staterooms in one. This adjoined Capt. Dall's cabin, in which all the meals were served, so that the General should not be put to the inconvenience of going up and down the companionway to the regular dining saloon. At dinner one day there were served some grouse, splendidly cooked, "done to a charm," with which the old gentleman, being somewhat of a gourmand, was so delighted, that he said he would like to see the cook who prepared them. Capt. Dall immediately sent for Louie--the cook, who soon appeared in an immaculately white apron and cap, and blushingly received a hearty handshake, and congratulations on his proficiency in his art. Poor Louie! he was an artist in his profession; he was lost on the Northerner a few months afterwards near Cape Mendocino.

1860. The scene of my labors for this season was Gray's Harbor, Wash. Terr., the work consisting of the triangulation of the Bay, and the topographical survey of the entrance, with determinations of the Latitude, Longitude and Azimuth.

On our arrival off the Bar, not knowing anything as regards the channel, signals were made for a pilot, or someone competent to act as such. After a few hours a boat came out bringing a man who declared himself acquainted with the channel; he was given charge, and he took us in safely, bringing us to anchor in the channel way, north of Pt. Hanson (S. pt. of Entrance) which he said was the best position. Our experience proved this to be an error. The currents near the entrance are very strong, especially on the large tides; and when the heavy Northwest winds of summer prevail, a rough, broken sea results. Outside of the Entrance points (Pt. Brown, or Eld Id., on the North, and Pt. Hanson on the South) is a crescent shaped shoal, bare at lowest tides. On the first of the flood, the current sets in directly through the main channel, as also through the swash channel between this shoal and the South shore. When the tide rises sufficiently to cover this shoal, the contact of the different currents causes a bore or rip, that is at times sufficiently strong to part a vessel's chains or drag her anchors. On the night of May 4th the former accident happened to us. A heavy Northerly wind blowing across the strong ebb current made such a sea that it was necessary to let go a second anchor. About 10 P.M., the wind having lulled, the tide had risen so as to cover the shoal. The bore or rip rushed in with great violence, and striking the vessel on her broad-side, possibly by being deflected from the beach on Pt. Harrison, whirled her suddenly around, causing such a sudden strain as to part the port cable near the hawse-pipe. Chain was immediately paid out to starboard, and in a few minutes all seemed secure. The night was very dark, and a double anchor-watch was kept. At daylight we found the vessel had drifted into the South Channel opposite South Bay, in which lines of soundings were made, and secure anchorage found. On getting under weigh, we were startled to find that the starboard anchor was gone, we had simply been held during the night by the amount of chain paid out. The drift we had made was due to the strong current on the large flood; the succeeding ebb being a small one, the current was not sufficiently strong to drag the chain. While moving into South Bay, the cables were gotten on deck, also all the old iron, the boat anchors, &c., and securely lashed in bundles; to these we held for two weeks before we found either of the lost anchors, for which the boats swept at every favorable opportunity. The other anchor was not recovered for nearly a month. In sweeping for it much annoyance was experienced in catching water soaked logs lying on the bottom, and it was only after removing several of these that we succeeded.

Gray's Harbor was discovered in May 1792 by Capt. Robert Gray. Capt. Vancouver sent one of his vessels, the Daedalus, to survey it in October of the same year. It was again surveyed by the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841. These were the only examinations made of the Bay until my work of 1860. For a more detailed history I refer you to Hon. E. Evans' M.S.S.

Gray's Harbor, like Shoalwater bay, presents a great mass of flats, nearly nine-tenths of it being bare at lowest tides. There is but one available channel, the North, by which the Chehalis River, emptying into the Bay at its Eastern extremity, can be reached by vessels of any considerable size. The valley of the Chehalis, as also those along the various streams emptying into it and the Harbor, present a large amount of excellent land, and abound in such woods as maple, alder, ash, &c., valuable for the manufacture of furniture. There are also great quantities of the various varieties of the pine, of the very finest quality for lumber. This will someday be valuable, but now there is no trade to the Harbor, and may not be for years. There are but few settlers in this vicinity, and those who are there find it so difficult and expensive to carry their produce to market, that there is but little incentive to raise more than is required for their own wants, to feed to a limited number of stock.

During the winter previous to my going to Gray's Harbor, a military station (Fort Chehalis) had been established just within the edge of the line of scattered trees on Pt. Hanson. The commanding officer, Capt. M. Maloney, had his wife with him, and this tended to make matters pleasant for my wife, who had joined me. She came up by steamer to Olympia, where I met her, and then returned to Gray's Harbor by wagon to Black River, where I had a canoe in waiting, thence down the Black and Chehalis Rivers to Montesano, where my whale boat met me, and where I stopped a while to enable my wife to get on some dry clothing, rain having fallen the whole time coming down the river. We then pushed on to Mr. Biles near the mouth of the Chehalis where we stopped for the night. The next morning we reached the vessel.

The work at Gray's Harbor was of the usual character. The triangulation was carried to the mouth of the Chehalis River, and a plane table survey embracing the entrance, and Eastward to Brackenridge Bluff was made. Observations were also made for Latitude, Longitude and Azimuth.

A land, or Easterly, wind very often blows there in the morning, not of any force, but sufficient to greatly aid a vessel in getting to sea. The danger is that it often fails as the bar is approached. This happened to us on leaving the Harbor. I started on the last of the flood tide, hoping to reach the bar before the ebb made. In this I was disappointed, the wind died out. In the short, heavy sea, then running we could not anchor, no ground tackle would have held. When the ebb made we drifted to the bar, on which the seas were now breaking, caused by the strong outflowing current meeting incoming waves. In these breakers we laid three-quarters of an hour, sometimes head, sometimes stern, sometimes broadside, to the breakers, which washed completely over us. During this time our chances for escape were very meager. At last a very light S.W. air came just enabling us to head out over the bar. In a few minutes we were over the bar and out of danger.

After clearing the bar we sailed for Port Townsend. The astronomical station at Pt. Hudson was the best determined of any on the Northern Coast, and it was desirable to obtain there observations for time, in order to get the difference of Longitude between that place and Gray's Harbor.

From Port Townsend I returned to San Francisco by steamer, leaving the Fauntleroy to follow in charge of the Sailing Master.

1861. In this year I was engaged at Koos Bay, Oregon, the work embracing the triangulation & topography of the entrance and from the Southern end of the Bay to North of Empire City. At the latter part of this season I also executed the hydrography within the same limits, the work on the Bar and approaches thereto, being done from the steam tug Fearless, which was kindly placed at my service by A.M. Simpson, Esq.

To reach Cape Gregory, where I wanted to place signals, I one day took advantage of a smooth bar, and ebb tide, to go out in the whale boat. I had with me two Aids, the Sailing Master and five men. Not a single breaker had shown itself until we were on the bar; then one suddenly broke at the bow, nearly filling the boat. Immediate orders were given for the two bow oarsmen to continue pulling, and all others to commence bailing. Before the next breaker appeared ebb tide had carried us over, and out of danger. Had that one struck the boat, all hands would probably have been lost.

After this attempt whenever it was necessary to reach Cape Gregory or its vicinity, we left our boat at the entrance to the South Bay, and went by one of two routes, according to the state of the tide. At from near low to high water, we followed a trail through the woods. This trail was poorly defined, and was difficult to travel on account [of] the dense under-brush. At extreme low tides we took the beach route, at places having to skip from rock to rock in passing some of the projecting ledges, until we reached Tunnel Pt. Here is a great natural passage under the hill. The Entrances resemble the gate ways of some old castle, the Western being the largest. Just inside the Eastern the tunnel expands into a circular space, 20 or 30 ft. in diameter with a high arched roof. Passing from this the roof is at times low, caused by the filling up of the bottom by sand washed in by seas. After that the roof is much higher than a man's head. The Western entrance opens on a long stretch of sand beach, extending to Cape Gregory. It is not possible to pass through this tunnel, except at lowest tides, on account of the seas breaking thro' it. There is but one bend in it. The tunnel is from 100 to 150 yards long.

1862. At the beginning of this season I returned to Koos Bay, but before I had fairly commenced work, I received instructions to proceed immediately to Gray's Harbor and make a hydrographic survey of the Bar and Entrance. Being in want of necessary instruments for this purpose, I returned to San Francisco on a lumber vessel, and dispatched the Fauntleroy to Gray's Harbor in charge of the Sailing Master. Obtaining what I needed, I rejoined her, by steamer to Columbia River, thence overland to Shoalwater Bay, where I found her at anchor in a small cove near the Light House. On arriving off the bar at Gray's Harbor, the breakers were so heavy as to deter the Sailing Master from attempting to cross; and so continuing for some days he ran for Shoalwater Bay, which was much more easy of access.

The military establishment at Gray's Harbor, having been abandoned, I obtained permission to occupy such of the buildings as were desirable for quarters, office, room, &c., and such articles as were necessary were taken there by wagons. This distance between the two Bays is about 14 miles, the greater part of the way being on the ocean beach. The boats were taken up by Indians, who, instead of going outside, kept inside of the inner line of breakers along the beach.

During the whole time that I remained at Gray's Harbor, I obtained but two days' work on the bar, on account of the continuous heavy breakers. I might have obtained more, had it not been for the cowardice of my Sailing Master. He was to have charge of the boat, while myself and Aid were stationed on shore with theodolites to determine, at given signals, her position. Not content with this, he induced some of the crew to refuse duty, and to leave, which isolated as I was, I had no power to resist. This left me with an insufficient number to man a boat, and no means of replacing them; I was thus reluctantly compelled to stop. In this emergency, Capt. Chas. F. Winsor, then in charge of Fort Chehalis, volunteered to act as Sailing Master, which offer I accepted, he obtaining leave of absence from the Quartermaster at Fort Vancouver.

Our trip down the coast was a very rough one, and with the small crew, it seemed particularly unpleasant. I had intended going into Koos Bay, and employ the remaining month of the season in the work there. I was prevented from entering by the breaking on the bar, the steam tug did not dare attempt to cross. A fair wind (Northerly) then coming, I determined to run for San Francisco.

1863. The next season I returned to Koos Bay, completed the triangulation and Hydrography, and made a plane table reconnaissance, connecting with the work of 1861. This reconnaissance, while in the main correct, does not give the work so full and detailed as usual in our topographical surveys.

1864. The work of this season was limited to two or three months, and of course meager in results, caused by the reduction of appropriations and the depreciation of currency, the form in which our funds were received.

Until the winter of 1862-3, our drafts on Assistant Treasurer of U.S. were paid in such money as was on hand, currency having the preference (not by the receiver). After that all drafts and checks were paid in currency, while I knowing nothing to the contrary, had been making all my vouchers at gold notes; hence instead of a good sized balance in my favor, I found a very small one. On proper representation being made, the difference was allowed to me. Not having sufficient funds to pay off and discharge the crew, I concluded to borrow, on my own responsibility, the sum necessary for this purpose, rather than keep them on pay for a month doing nothing, at the same time asking that funds be sent me immediately. The draft arrived the day before my note became due. Going into the Assist. Treasurer's office, I found currency was being paid out; I left. All that day I danced attendance on the office with like result, until a few minutes before the closing of bank, when I went back determined to accept what was tendered to me, and make the best of it. A check, drawn by the Supt. of Indian Affairs of Oregon in favor of Ladd & Tilton of Portland, was being paid. I saw the Cashier passing out green backs; my heart sank! In a few moments gold began to appear until the full amount was paid. This check had exhausted the deposit of currency, hence the remainder was paid in gold. I immediately presented my draft, and received it all in gold, greatly to my satisfaction. I hurried to the bank, paid my note, and felt happy. The check above referred to, had been bought by Ladd & Tilton at the then rates for currency (70 cents); of the full amount ($70,000.00 or nearly so) only $11,000.00 was paid in currency. Of course L.& T. made a nice little percentage, and, as was afterwards reported, was the cause of considerable trouble to the Oregon Supt. of Indian Affairs, and caused his removal.

My work of season of 1864, was a small amount of triangulation in Suisun Bay, California.

1865. The work of this year consisted entirely of hydrography of Koos Bay, commencing where it ended in 1861, and carrying it to the head of the Bay, into the mouths of the most important sloughs, Coal Bank, Isthmus and Kitchen, and also into the mouth of the Koos River.

Another examination of the Bar and Entrance to the Bay was made, both having changed during the past winter. Instead of the channel being straight as shown by the former survey, it curved considerably to the North, some three fourths of a mile, and had been more, but was now, under the influence of Northerly winds working back to its old position. This is the history of all Bars to harbors on this coast, especially where sand spits from one or both points of the entrance.

At the close of the season's work I went East to spend the winter, remaining the greater part of the time in Boston. During this winter I was subjected to the greatest degree of cold I ever remember to have experienced, 24 degrees below zero. I was much less affected by it than I anticipated, I even appeared to bear it better than the Bostonians themselves. I often amused myself in endeavoring to learn the labyrinthine mazes of the streets of the Hub, but very often would get lost. And I saw, and heard, the Hub's pet, the Great Organ.


1866. I returned to the Western Coast in April, 1866, and after sundry repairs to the Fauntleroy, I despatched her to the North in charge of the Sailing Master, I remaining at San F. for a few days to make up and forward accounts. I then took the steamer for Portland, Oregon, arriving just in time to take the steamboat for Monticello on the Cowlitz River, thence overland to Olympia. From Monticello to Pumphreys (now Olequa, at the crossing of the Cowlitz River by the N.P.R.R.) we went by stage, but at the latter place we found some buggies in which a party of Army officers on an inspection tour had come over, and which had to be returned. One of these was placed at the disposal of Bishop Scott (Episcopal, for Oregon and Wash. Terr.) and we thus went through much more pleasantly than in the stage.

We arrived at Olympia about 3 P.M. on a Saturday. Hearing there was a steamer at the dock that was going down the Sound in advance of the regular steamer, I went to endeavor to get a passage on her. There I met an old friend, Fred. A. Wilson, Collector of Customs for the Puget Sound District, and in a few moments was introduced to a large party. Col.Alvinza Hayward had come North for the purpose of examining the Bellingham Bay coal mines, and for making the trip had chartered the steamer Fideliter at Victoria, taking as invited guests, Capt. Wm. Kohl (owner of the steamer) and his wife and some others. After visiting the coal mines, Col. Hayward concluded to go up the Sound; having to stop at Port Angeles to enter at the Custom House, Mr. Wilson was invited to join the party. I was made one of the party at once. That evening a memorable dinner was given to the Governor of Wash. Terr (Pickering), on board the Fideliter. I went down the Sound with the party. At Port Townsend I found the Fauntleroy and intended going on board her at once. A veto was immediately placed on this, I must accompany the party to Victoria, which I did, having ordered the Brig to meet me at Port Angeles.

My first work this season was the survey, topographical and hydrographic, of Destruction Id. about 45 miles South of Cape Flattery. This survey had been ordered in consequence of representations to the effect that the island afforded shelter and good anchorage in case of strong winds from N. or S. The North side is not only unfitted, but unsafe; the South side is protected partially from Northerly winds only; twice during our stay there we had to put to sea in Southeasters.

After completing the survey of Destruction Id. I returned to Port Angeles, and remained there some time preparing some office work, plotting and inking some sheets, that was specially desired at Washington. Then I went up the Sound and resumed the triangulation of Admiralty Inlet from the points where work had been closed in 1857.

My instructions were that, hereafter instead of returning to San F. in the autumn, as had previously been the custom, the vessel was to remain North; also that I was to work during the winter. The first of these propositions I deemed a wise one, but not so the second. I represented the condition of the weather during the winter, when, on account of the almost continuous rains, with at times heavy storms, but little work could be done, as there were very few good days; but I was ordered to make the experiment, which resulted as I had foreseen, in five months I had only about 14 days' work.

During this winter the vessel had a narrow escape from loss, or at least serious injury. We were lying at anchor in a place exposed to Southerly winds. A fresh wind prevented my going to work. Suddenly a very heavy S. W. squall came, causing a short rough sea, in which one of our chains parted. I buoyed the other, and as soon as sail could be made, we slipped and ran. The vessel was then in water barely sufficient to float her without striking, but we gathered headway, and for more than a mile were in shoal water. Several attempts were made to "go about," but the sea prevented. At last I ordered the "helm up:" then the helm was ordered "down," and she came "about", In doing so she took the bottom astern, but on bracing the yards for the other tack, the sails filled well, and she went off without injury. Ordinarily in such a wind we would have been under reefs, but as "desperate cases require desperate remedies," I carried whole topsail and top-gallant sail. Having no anchors, I determined to run for Port Townsend and borrow one from the Revenue Cutter Lincoln. Fortunately I saw her coming out from Seattle. As she was under orders for Columbia River, none, could be spared, so she towed me to Port Madison, where I made fast to the dock until I went to Victoria and procured one. We afterwards went back to the scene of our troubles, and in three hours recovered both the lost anchors, had them at the bow, and were under weigh, seeking a more secure harbor.

1867. Early in the Spring I received orders to hunt for a bank reported some fifteen miles off Cape Flattery. At Neeah Bay, I obtained from Henry A. Webster, Indian Agent in charge of that Reservation, the assistance of some Indians, who were supposed to be conversant with the position of this bank, but they were at fault, they took me to their halibut grounds, but this was in much deeper water than I was seeking. Thick fogs prevented my further search, or even of determining properly the positions of the soundings I made.

Before leaving Neeah Bay, I heard from a passing steamer, the news of the loss by drowning of Julius Kincheloe, Sub-Assistant, Coast Survey, and five men, at Tillamook Bay, Oregon. Finding I could not determine the locality of the looked-for bank, and feeling assured that my services would be required at Tillamook Bay, I returned to Olympia. Had the wind been fair when at sea I would have proceeded there at once with the vessel. The day after my arrival at Olympia the anticipated orders came by telegraph. At daylight the next morning I started, and that evening reached Pumphrey's station. At 4 A.M. next day I took a canoe down the Cowlitz River, and at 7 ½, aided by the strong current I was on the boat at Monticello, 24 miles. Thence I went to Portland, where I had to remain over night, then went to Astoria, charged a sloop to take me to a small settlement on Skippernawin Creek (Pt. Adams), where I hired a team, and that night, I stopped at the "Summer House," a place of summer resort near Tillamook Head. Here I secured the services of a guide me to take me through the woods, and over Tillamook and False Tillamook Heads. This was done afoot, crossing these heads at elevations of from 1000 to 1200 ft., and descending to the beach when necessary. In passing Neah-kah-neit., the trail passes within a couple of feet or closer, to the edge of a precipitous cliff, having a sheer descent of about a thousand ft. to the ocean. About 5 P.M. having made about 25 miles, we reached a house a few miles from the Nehalim River. Here I stopped for the night. The next morning (Sunday) my guide returned; I obtained a horse, rode to the Nehalim ferry, and after crossing resumed by journey on foot, arriving at Tillamook Bay about noon, weary, wet, and footsore. I found Mrs. Kincheloe very ill; the suddenness of the communication of the news of her husband's death, had caused such a shock as nearly killed her. My coming was a great relief to her; I was the last to say Goodbye to her and her husband when leaving San Francisco the previous year, and was now the first to come to her aid in her great distress.

Mr. Kincheloe had been engaged in the survey of Tillamook Bay for about eleven months. The work was practically complete, but Mr. K. desired to get some soundings on or near the bar in places where heavy breakers had hitherto prevented his reaching. On the 20th May, the bar appearing very smooth he approached the bar, and for a time all went well. Suddenly a sea broke into the boat (as occurred to me on Koos Bay Bar), filling her; a second sea upset her, and all were thrown into the water. The boat's crew consisted of Charles West, Elias N. and Beveriah Steelcup, Samuel Lanagan, Henry Ballou, and James Steel. It is supposed that when the boat capsized the anchor fell to the bottom, and by its hold prevented the boat from drifting, and each sea in passing washed the men from her. Mr. K. was only seen once after the accident, and that was when Steel, the only survivor (and the only one who could not swim) caught the end of the boats mast, which was sticking out of the water, bringing Mr. K. to the surface, he having hold of the other end. He was then too exhausted to speak. A lad name Geo. W. Clark, living at the entrance of the bay, stripped, jumped into a small canoe, and put off to the rescue. He succeeded, however, in only saving the one man, Steel. On July 1st the bodies of Mr. K. and E. N. Steelcup were found; none of the others were ever recovered.

It had been my intention to charter a small schooner, the Champion, then in Tillamook Bay, to take Mrs. K and the Coast Survey property to Columbia River, but the captain, thinking he had me in a tight place, demanded an exorbitant price. I at once despatched an Indian with a message to Capt. Geo. Flavel at Astoria to send me his little schooner, and that she must be there on Saturday following. She arrived that morning off the bar, and at noon was in the Bay. The next day all was in readiness and we sailed. In the meantime Mrs. K had improved greatly, but it was deemed advisable to secure the services of the old lady (Mrs. Bailey) with whom she had been living, and who had nursed her in her illness; thus she had excellent care. We arrived at Astoria on Tuesday morning, and Capt. Flavel had Mrs. K. taken to his house, and placed in charge of his wife. I was pleased to find that the San F. steamer had not yet come down from Portland; she came the next day, Mrs. K. expressed the desire that I should accompany her to San Francisco, and as I had carte blanche, I did so. There every preparation was made for her trip East to join her friends.

Returning to Puget Sound, I resumed the triangulation of Admiralty Inlet, which had been carried on during my absence by Mr. J.J. Gilbert, Aid, U.S.C.S. This was continued until orders were received to connect a secondary astronomical station at Victoria, Vancouver Id., occupied by Assist. Davidson, while en route, Alaska, with the triangulation of Admiralty Inlet, after which the party resumed work in Puget Sound.

My experience of the past winter proved that work could not successfully or economically be prosecuted. Hence, at the close of this season, I determined to lay up the vessel, and discharge the crew. My action was approved, but with a gentle "rap over the knuckles" for not doing so last winter! The vessel was laid up at Olympia, where I took up my quarters ashore, having purchased a house, and made myself a home. During the winter I was engaged in computing the results of the season's work.

On Feb 17th of this year (1867) Prof. Alexander Dallas Bache, Supt. U.S. Coast Survey, died at Newport, Rhode Island, after a lingering illness the origin of which was a paralytic attack in the year 1864. This was caused by the overwhelming demands upon his time and energies, during the rebellion, for the preservation of the Union, to which he was devotedly attached. In the construction of defenses around his native city of Philadelphia, when menaced by invasion in 1863, his powers of endurance were strained beyond bearing, and the succeeding year he was seized with the malady which terminated in his death.

Prof. Bache was appointed Supt. of the Coast Survey in Dec. 1843, and to him belongs the honor of the present organization of the work. In addition to his vast scientific attainments, which have placed his name among the greatest savants of the world, he was endowed with administrative ability of the highest order.

Having been associated with Prof. Bache from a school-boy, a period of over twenty years, the shock to me was severe, when I saw him in [the] fall of 1865. Instead of the intellectual giant, I found one whose mind was shattered; I know it is not unmanly to confess to shedding tears.

It is not possible, within the limits of such a paper as this to speak adequately of Prof. Bache. The high standard of excellence, to which he raised the U.S. Coast Survey, making it equal to, if not excelling all other works of the kind in the world, is his grandest monument.

Shortly after his death, Prof. Benjamin Peirce, Prof. of Mathematics at Harvard University, was appointed Supt. (26th Feb. 1867).

1868. At the beginning of this season the survey of Port Madison was taken up, and carried through to completion in topography and hydrography. After this the party was transferred to the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and the topography was resumed at Pt. Nelson, connecting with the work of 1856, and carried Westward to include Protection Id and part of the Entrance to Port Discovery.

The latter part of this season, for a period of three months, was remarkably smoky, the most so ever known, even to that proverbial character called "the oldest inhabitant." At such times, calms or very light airs usually prevail. The smoke settles down like a pall, and is as dense as a fog, but much more permanent; nothing but heavy rains that will extinguish the fires can clear the atmosphere. These fires seemed to spread over the whole Northwest coast from Alaska to California, and the smoke extended over a thousand miles to seaward, and as far South almost as Panama. Under such circumstances navigation was rendered extremely difficult, and with the utmost care and vigilance on the part of pilots and shipmasters, it was impossible to avoid disaster. Among others was the loss of the Del Norte on Canoe Rocks, Gulf of Georgia. The Fauntleroy was very nearly run down by a large ship, while we were lying at anchor off the South side of Protection Id., where we deemed ourselves entirely out of the way of vessels. This ship having made New Dungeness spit, had run along for a time with a light fair wind (Westerly) and flood tide. The wind dying away, the ebb current carried her between Middle Pt. (usually known as Rocky Pt.) and Protection Id., of which fact the captain was ignorant, as nothing could be seen, until he was within less than a hundred feet of us. Fortunately the current carried her just clear and when at a safe distance from us, she anchored. It was unsafe to permit a boat to leave the vessel without a compass, or else ringing the bell as a signal by which the way back could be found. Many amusing instances are told of boats being lost in the smoke. The dinghy of the Revenue Cutter lying at Port Townsend, started ashore; she reached the wharf all right, but in returning got lost, and the first land found was Pt. Wilson. Following the shore, the boat reached Port Townsend, and at last the Cutter;--four hours making a distance that should have been made in four minutes! On the stage route between Columbia River and Puget Sound (we had no rail-road then) it was necessary to keep gangs of men, each having its particular beat, to remove the trunks of tree continually falling across the road.

These fires originate from two principal causes--the destruction by the Indians of the berry bushes of several years' growth to make room for the new, and the clearing of lands by settlers. Sometimes a fire is started for mischief, and others from mere carelessness in not restricting the limits of a campfire. Throughout these forests the ground is covered to the depth of a foot or more, with vegetable matter, which, becoming very dry in summer, and being full of resin, is very inflammable. These fires spread very rapidly, and it often happens that when one has attained good headway, large cinders are carried a considerable distance, and these falling in the forests, start other fires. Many thousands of dollars worth of valuable timber are thus destroyed, in addition to the losses of houses, barns, fences, &c. Of course during the prevalence of the smoky season, work is not only much retarded, but at times utterly impossible.

The rains did not commence this Fall until after the middle of October, which was unusually late, but this was amply compensated for by their continuance, and the violence of the S.E. storms. One of these gales we rode out at Protection Id. It came so suddenly that it was impossible to get our anchor. Throughout the whole day, the seas were washing completely over the vessel, and had it not been for the precaution of backing the cables with several parts of the hawser, they must have parted. On the abatement of the gale, I stopped work for the season, and returning to Olympia, went into winter quarters, where the sheets embracing the work at Port Madison were inked, the computations of triangulation made, and all records duplicated.

1869. In the early part of this season I returned to Port Discovery, but soon received orders to have some repairs made to the Fauntleroy, which was taken to Seattle for this purpose. The loss of time to field work was not of great consequence on account of the smoke coming unusually early this year (June). Fortunately, however, about the time the vessel was again in commission, rains appeared (Aug. 22), and cleared the atmosphere.

During the time the Fauntleroy was undergoing repair, Hon. Wm. H. Seward came North, en route for Alaska. At Victoria he was met by Hon. Alvan Flanders, Governor of Wash. Terr., Capt. Marshall Blinn, and others of Olympia, by whom Gov. Seward was induced to make a visit to Puget Sound, while the steamer Active (formerly in the Coast Survey service) on which he was going to Alaska, would be detained by coaling at Nanaimo, Vancouver ld. The steamboat Wilson G. Hunt was chartered for this special duty. The trip up and down the Sound was a complete ovation--at every port crowds gathered on the deck to do honor to the venerable Statesman. At Olympia he was the guest of Gov. Flanders, and was entertained at my house where a reception was held, but the space being limited a more public one was given at Olympic Hall.

Gov. Seward was accompanied on his trip to Alaska by his son Fred Seward and wife, Abijah Fitch, Esq. of Auburn, N.Y., Judge Hastings, of San Francisco, and Dr. Franklin, R.N.

The federal officials resident at Olympia were invited to meet Gov. S. at luncheon. While this was going on Mrs. Seward invited my wife to accompany them to Alaska. Mrs. S. was the only lady in the party, and insisted on Mrs. L. going. It required some persuasion to make her consent, not because she did not want to go, but for the reason she could not get ready, she had about forty minutes to pack up, and get to the steamer! This objection was overcome, a trunk was packed in the "quickest time on record" for such a journey, and in due time all were on board. My step-son Fred accompanied us at the request of his mother. A large party escorted Gov. Seward and his suite to Nanaimo, where the latter were transferred to the Active, where we were all elegantly entertained at dinner, Gov. Seward presiding. That P.M. we said our Goodbyes, and we returned to the Sound via Victoria.

Gov. S. had a pleasant trip; the steamer called at all places of interest. At Sitka, the party was joined by Gen. Jeff. C. David, U.S.A., then in command of the forces stationed there, and other officers. Among other places visited was the Chilkaht River, where Prof. George Davidson, Assist. U.S. Coast Survey, was engaged observing the total eclipse of August 7th. All enjoyed, and were in raptures with, a sight so rarely witnessed under such favorable circumstances and surroundings. Gov. Seward and his party returned about end of August to Victoria where I met them, being at work at that time in that vicinity.

After the Seward party had left, and while yet the repairs of the Fauntleroy were going on, the U.S.S. Pensacola,flagship of the North Pacific Squadron, Rear-Admiral Thos. Turner, U.S.N., paid a visit to Puget Sound. I made my first call on board at Olympia, and among the officers I met my old friend Capt. Phil. C. Johnson, Chief of Staff. Our meeting was a complete surprise to both, and a most pleasant one. By especial invitation I took up my quarters on the Pensacola, and assisted in piloting her from Steilacoom to Port Townsend. Between Olympia and Steilacoom, Gov. Flanders and myself had made an overland trip with the Admiral, having some partridge shooting on the way, trout-fishing at McAllister's Creek (Nisqually Bottom), and an impromptu picnic there with some ladies from Olympia.

The repairs to the Fauntleroy having been completed, she had gone to Port Townsend, a day or two before, and there awaited my arrival. I was then under instructions to connect a secondary astronomical station at Esquimalt, Vancouver Island, occupied by Assist. Davidson while en route to Alaska in the U.S. Quartermaster's steamer Newbern, with the triangulation of Straits of Fuca; and when the Pensacola started for Esquimalt, Capt. Geo. H. Preble, U.S.N. kindly took the Fauntleroy in tow. Thus it happened that I was near Victoria, as previously stated, when Gov. Seward and his party returned. Assist. Davidson, also returned on the Active at the same time.

After completing the work above referred to, the topography of Port Discovery was resumed, and two sheets were completed. As usual during the winter the vessel was laid up at Olympia, and the usual office work was done during the winter.

1870. Early in March of this year I made a reconnaissance and commenced a triangulation from the neighborhood of Fort Nisqually (one of the old posts of the Hudson's Bay Company) towards Muck Prairie, for the purpose of connecting the station occupied by Lt. J. M. Gilliss, U.S.N. in 1860, for the eclipse of the sun on July 18th, with the triangulation of Puget Sound. This work was continued until the end of April, when the weather being favorable for continuing operations in the Straits of Fuca, the topography of Port Discovery was resumed, and completed. This survey was continued westward, including Washington Harbor (locally known as S'quim Bay) to connect with the survey of New Dungeness in 1855, the necessary tertiary triangulation having been made for the purpose.

Port Discovery was named by Vancouver, after his own vessel, and was the first harbor he entered in these waters. Here he remained some six weeks, refitting and overhauling his ships, rating chronometers, &c. From this place he sent out boat expeditions to the eastward, making surveys of Port Townsend, Oak Bay, and Hood's Canal, but apparently none to the westward, at least none is mentioned in his narrative. Hence, as the Bay known as Washington Harbor is not referred to, nor even shown upon his map, it is supposed he was not aware of its existence, though only a few miles distant from Port Discovery.

Having completed the topography to New Dungeness, I commenced a tertiary triangulation for determination of stations along the Western shore of Whidbey Id. from Deception Pass to Pt. Partridge. While engaged in this work I discovered a reef in the South Entrance to Rosario Strait, and off Deception pass, having but 3 1/4 fathoms on it, there being a depth of over 50 fathoms all around it. By recommendation of Assist. Davidson to whom I immediately reported the discovery, the Supt. named it Lawson's Reef. After laying up the party for the winter I was instructed to make a hydrographic survey of this reef. This was attempted, the Collector of Customs (Mr. S. Drew, Esq.) kindly placing the steam revenue cutter Lincoln at my disposal for the purpose; but stormy weather prevented.

The setting in of the usual summer smoke and fog seriously retarding the triangulation along the shores of Whidbey Id. and towards Rosario Strait, I concluded to stop this work, and take up that at Fort Nisqually. In order to connect the work done early in the season with the triangulation of Puget Sound, it was necessary to open several avenues through the belt of woods lying between the Sound and American Prairie; and as this cutting could be done in smoky as well as clear weather, I lost no time. After the first rains had come, and the atmosphere became clear, I carried on the observations, while my aid Mr. J.J. Gilbert was detached from the vessel, taking with him a whale-boat and crew, and made a topographical survey of Admiralty Bay, Whidbey Id., and then returned to the vessel. Very soon after this we went into winter quarters.

In connection with the triangulation in Puget Sound, the altitude of Mt. Rainier was determined by vertical angles measured at Turkey Pt. (Anderson Id), and found to be 14,444 ft. [The accepted value today is 14,410 feet.] This however, can hardly be taken as final. There being no prominent object on the summit, on which pointings from different stations could be made with a reasonable degree of certainty, renders its position, and consequently its distance from these stations, as only approximate. To this source of error may also be added the varying conditions of the atmosphere between the summit and the point of observation. The determination, however, may be accepted as the nearest correct of any yet known.

1871. On resuming work this spring, the work at Nisqually was taken up and completed, including the measurement of a Verification Base Line on American Prairie, near Fort Nisqually, and its connection with the triangulation. The difference between the measured length of this base, and the computed, as brought by triangulation from the base line at Port Townsend, was but a few inches.

While the vessel laid at the old Fort Nisqually Landing, some carpenter work was being done on her, making it impossible to live on board. We therefore took possession of one of the dilapidated store-houses formerly used by the Hudson's Bay Company, and by means of sails, and sundry appliances from the vessel made the building quite comfortable for the party.

In 1841 some of the vessels of the Exploring Expedition anchored at this place and remained about three months, while surveys were made of Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound, Hood's Canal, and also of the Columbia River, parties being sent in all directions. An observatory was located on the top of the abrupt rise from the beach, where observations were made for determination of the Latitude and Longitude, error & rate of chronometers, &c; other buildings were put up as required, including an oven. The general locality was pointed out to me by Mr. Edward Huggins, who for many years had been at Fort Nisqually in the employ of the H.B.Co., but who now had become a citizen of the U.S., and had taken up the claim including the Fort, all the rights of the H.B.Co, and the Puget Sound Agricultural Company having expired, and their property purchased by the U.S. The face of the hill had been cleared of trees by the Ex.Ex. but a new growth had sprung up so dense that Mr. Huggins hunted for a considerable time before finding the locality. We could distinctly trace, in the decaying remains, the position of some of the old houses, but particularly of the oven spoken of by Capt. Wilkes.

On the completion of the work near Fort Nisqually, the party again resumed operation in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The triangulation for determination of points on the West shore of Whidbey Id. between Rosario Strait and Admiralty Inlet was completed. I was then instructed to execute the hydrography of Partridge Bank in the Strait of Fuca, then called into particular notice by the striking of the Ship Jas. R. Keeler, lumber laden, drawing about 22 ft., at the time of extreme low water of spring tides in June, the lowest tides of the whole year. The soundings developed the existence of a dangerous ledge having only 14 ft. at lowest tides. This ledge, as also a larger portion of the bank, was well marked by kelp. At the close of the season, I placed at the edge of the kelp and near this ledge, a buoy which had been sent by the Inspector of this Light House district, using the Revenue Cutter Lincoln which had been placed at my disposal by the Collector of Customs at Port Townsend.

After the completion of the hydrography of Partridge Bank, a portion of my party, in charge of a Sub-Assistant was detailed for the topography commencing at Sares Head, Fidalgo Id., and extending Southward, including Deception Pass, to join the work at or near Admiralty Head. During the same time I made the triangulation of Kilisut Harbor, and its connection with that of Port Townsend, and then took up the topography of the same. Before I completed this latter, I placed it in charge of the Sub-Assistant attached to the party, and I took up the hydrography of Lawson's Reef using the steam Launch Lively, and also made some examination in the vicinity of Belle Rock, Rosario Strait.

On the completion of the work thus referred to, the stormy weather having set in, the vessel was laid up for the winter and the crew discharged.

1872. At the commencement of this season's work, the topographical survey of Admiralty Inlet was continued, taking it up from the points to which it had previously been carried. On the North and East side, (Whidbey Id.) work was begun at Lagoom Pt., and carried Eastward to include the end of the Island to a point in Possession Sound opposite the little town of Mukilteo; then from a mile E. of this town the work was carried along the mainland to Meadow Pt. where it connected with the survey of Salmon Bay, a survey of which had been made in 1867, at the special request of Gov. Pickering, who desired the information in connection with a project then entertained of using this bay as the anchorage for vessels loading coal from the mines on Lake Washington. Into this bay empties the Shil-shole Creek, which is the outlet of Lake Union; and it was proposed that the valley of this creek should be utilized, either by means of a canal or railroad, for bringing the coal to the ships. Nothing, however, was ever done in this matter.

On the other side of the Inlet, the survey of Oak Bay, between the Head of Port Townsend Bay and Port Ludlow was made, and then work was resumed at Point No Point and carried Southward to the S. end of Bainbridge Id. This rendered complete the topography from New Dungeness in the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Restoration Pt. on one side, and from Deception Pass to West Pt. (N. pt. of Entrance to Duwamish Bay) on the other.

In the execution of this work, it was necessary to use the triangulation stations of 1855 and 1856. Having been engaged on this triangulation, it was much more easy for me to find these points than for any other; many of them, however, were lost by changing of the spits, falling away of bluffs, &c., and other stations had to be determined.

Before completing the topographical work to the limits above mentioned, the smoke had become so dense as to greatly retard the work; but being under orders to make a survey of Budd's Inlet, which at one time was designated as the terminus of the Northern Pacific R.R., I concluded to take up that work, where the comparative narrowness of the Bay (about a mile) afforded better probabilities for success. By the time it was necessary to close work for the season, the triangulation of the Inlet was completed.

1873. The topography of Budd's Inlet was completed from its entrance and approaches to include the town of Tumwater at the extreme Southern part of Puget Sound. Then the hydrography was taken up, but only a portion was done before going into winter quarters.

1874. The hydrography of Budd's Inlet was resumed and completed, after which I took up the revision and correction of the topographical work done by the Sub-Assistant in 1872 along Whidbey Id. and the East shore of Admiralty Inlet.

For the purpose of connecting a telegraphic longitude station, occupied at Seattle in 1871 by a portion of Assistant Davidson's party, it was necessary to re-triangulate the whole of Duwamish Bay, on account of the loss of every station. The marks of a few were found, but so much decayed that I could not be certain of the exact position, & hence I made a new triangulation, and connected it with that of Admiralty Inlet.

During this season rain fell to a greater extent than usual. From April to October (both inclusive) rain fell on 81 days; this of course had the effect of repressing the forest fires, and preventing the accumulation of smoke. About November 1st, very stormy weather set in, and I determined to close for the season. The vessel was five days reaching Olympia, she had a series of gales all the time.

1875. The operations of this season began with the topography of Duwamish Bay, and included from West Pt. to Battery Pt. (usually called Alki Pt) ( think Mr. Pettygrove of Port Townsend makes reference to this place and its history, much more in detail than I can--hence I do not go into detail regarding it). The city of Seattle is embraced within these limits. In making this survey every street and road was leveled for the purpose of giving the contour lines. While these are not given with the extreme accuracy required for the engineering purposes necessary in regulating the grades of a city, they would have, at least, furnished a nucleus for such work in after years, had this been noted at the time as I suggested to some of the prominent people.

After completing the topography of Duwamish Bay the hydrography was done. In this work the steam Launch Lively was used in making the soundings in the deep parts of the Bay; in the shallow parts and around the shores, the whaleboat was used.

I then took up the hydrography of Admiralty Inlet from the vicinity of Foulweather Bluff (Entrance to Hood's Canal) and Double Bluff (Whidbey Id.), and carried it as far South as the topography of 1872 extended, though in consequence of bad weather, the work in some of its detail was incomplete at the date prescribed for closing the season's operations.

During the last month in the field I was unfit for duty, in consequence of a recurrence of my old chills and fever, brought on by persisting in setting up my tide-gauge at Port Madison during a snow storm.

1876. Not having been East since the winter of 1865-6, I made application for a leave of absence so as to be at my native place (Philadelphia) during a portion [of] the Centennial year. My aim was to commence the season's work, and start about June 1st, leaving my Assistant in charge of the party, until I could return in the autumn. I had previously intimated to the Supt. that I should ask this favor; in fact his permission and my formal application passed each other en route. In consequence of the want of funds for carrying on the parties throughout the full season, my leave was to commence on March 15th, hence I began immediate preparations for starting. Accompanied by my wife, I left Esquimalt, B.C., on March 20th, on the City of Panama, Capt. W.B. Seabury. Gov. Elisha P. Ferry of Wash. Territory, and his wife, were fellow passengers, and we all traveled in company as far as Chicago. [Apparently the steamship City of Panama traveled to San Francisco from whence the travellers took the railroad across the continent.] There being a snow blockade on the road, we remained at San Francisco a few days until the track was reported clear. We went through on time, though the train ahead of us had several hours' detention.

This was my first trip over the transcontinental route, and was of course, a source of great novelty and pleasure, the latter however, being considerably marred by the intense cold experienced in crossing the mountains. After reaching the Eastern slope, the temperature became much milder, and even pleasant.

We all laid over at Chicago, which place I now visited for the first time. Here we all parted company temporarily; the next morning Mrs. Lawson went to Madison to visit a brother whom she had not seen for eighteen years; in the afternoon Gov. and Mrs. Ferry started for Waukegan to see their old home, relatives and friends. Before the Governor left I accompanied him about the city while he called upon many of his friends of the legal fraternity, and he pointed out to me some of the public buildings, and splendid stores. Great changes had occurred since he had been there, owing to the rebuilding after the great fire of 1872. On the morning following I left for Philadelphia, where I had a very happy meeting with my dear old mother, brothers and sister and their families. The next day, I reported in person to the Supt. at Washington, returning in time to take the train for Harrisburg to meet my wife. On the train from Chicago was one of our friends from New Tacoma, W.T. (E.S. Smith); the meeting was a great surprise to both, and tended to relieve the monotony of traveling alone.

When Boards of Centennial Commissioners for the States and Territories were authorized, I was one of those appointed by Gov. Ferry for Wash. Terr., and consequently the exhibits from that section were placed in my charge. These consisted entirely of cereals, in small quantities as specimens and on the stalk, and comprised a very great number of varieties. In this respect, it surpassed, I think, every other in the Exposition, and the whole was from the product of one farm, some five miles from Olympia, the owner of which ( Bush) received a first class diploma. Owing to the immense quantity of material coming for exhibition, great numbers of cars had to await their turn to reach the buildings. I had our space selected and stand built many days before the boxes came, which was only late in the afternoon previous to the opening. Although I was quite ill, I had the boxes taken to our stand, and with the assistance of my brother, had everything set up before I left the Hall (Agricultural) that evening.

I was present at the opening of the Exposition, and while in Philadelphia visited it at least four times a week. I can make no attempt at describing my impressions. I was glad I lived in the Centennial year, glad that I had the opportunity to be present, and mingle in the scenes that celebrated the hundredth birthday of our country as a nation.

There were but two drawbacks to the pleasure I experienced in my visit--a serious illness, and the intense summer heat, but I passed through both sucessfully.

I had expected to return to the Western Coast in time to resume work about July lst, but on account of the delay by Congress in passing the appropriation bills, and the repeated reductions made in the Coast Survey item, the Supt. kindly extended my leave. This enabled me to be present at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of my mother's wedding (my father died in 1873). This was one of the great objects I had in view in making my visit, and I would have made special application for the privilege had circumstances tended to prevent it. All members of the family had determined on celebrating this occasion, but as the day approached, not a word was said to the good mother. She thought I had forgotten it, and felt much aggrieved, but said nothing to me. In fact, I had prepared a surprise party, and all understood it. I sent for my wife who was at Boston with her father; she arrived on the day, July 12th, all of which passed without a single reference being made in mother's presence, until in the evening the simultaneous appearance at my sister's of all her boys and their families with loving greetings and congratulations, showed that we did not forget. Mother was very, very happy, and gave great thanks to God for his goodness in permitting all of her living children and many of her grand children to be assembled around her once more.

Having received my instructions, and made preparations for my trip, I started to return about the middle of August, and came directly to San Francisco without any delay. We had now the intense heat of summer, and the dust of the plains, but I was willing to endure it all to witness the splendid scenery I could not enjoy on my Eastward trip. One part of the scenery was not pleasant--the clouds of grasshoppers and the ruined fields of corn in Nebraska.

I remained in San Francisco a few days awaiting the sailing of the steamer for Puget Sound. On my arrival at Olympia, I found as my guest, and awaiting me, Gen Albert Pike, Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemansonry, for the Southern Jurisdiction of the U.S., whom I had met in Washington, and from whom at the meeting of the Supreme Council in May and June, I had received the thirty third degree. This was his first trip to the Pacific Coast, and so much did he enjoy it that he is anxious to repeat. He was accompanied by his daughter Miss Lillian Pike. They remained a few days after I returned, and then started homeward. At every place he stopped he was greeted with an ovation by the Masonic fraternity, an honor that was justly due to his deep research and attainments in all the lore that pertains to the craft.

As soon as the party could be organized and the Fauntleroy put in readiness, a reconnaissance for a primary triangulation of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, from Admiralty Inlet Westward towards the ocean, was commenced, and continued until the weather became too stormy for field work.

1877. The same work was taken up and continued throughout the season. On account of the densely wooded nature of the country, this work was quite difficult and tedious. Generally to reach any desired point we had to cut our way through the underbrush, and after the position of the station had been selected, it was necessary to open avenues through these woods by felling the trees so as to open the view to other stations. In such a work, progress is necessarily slow, especially when the cutting is done by such inexperienced axemen as sailors usually are.

1878. Instead of continuing the reconnaissance, I was ordered to commence the measurement of horizontal angles at Pt. Partridge, Whidbey Id. It being not only inconvenient but unsafe to keep the vessel at anchor off that point, I made a camp in the woods on top of the bluff, and then sent the vessel to Port Townsend, communication being kept up either by our own boats or by the ferryboat to Ebey's Landing, 3 ½ miles distant from my camp.

This season was similar in character to those of 1857, and 1868, very smoky and foggy. At times I could not see the beach at the base of the bluff at Pt. Partridge. Considerable portion of the time was otherwise utilized in opening avenues to hills which it was desirable to connect with the work now in progress.

With the coming of rains in the Fall the smoke disappeared, but the weather continued so stormy as to prevent anything like successful work. Finally a heavy gale prostrated a number of my signals and destroyed my observing tent; I then closed operations for the season.


My life for some years past has either not been so fraught with interesting items and incidents as the first few I spent on this Coast, or else the novelty has worn off, so that they did not impress me so strongly, and hence are not so readily recalled from memory. If while writing this article I could have had continual access to my journals and other memoranda, many things now forgotten might have been suggested by them.

Such as the paper is, I offer it, trusting that out of the great amount of chaff some few kernels of interest may by winnowed.

James S. Lawson
Assistant, Coast Survey
San Francisco, CA
March 7, 1879.

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