The Pioneer Years
Heading to California
The First Year
The Columbia River Country and Points
Point Reyes, Drakes Bay, and the Los Angeles
Puget Sound and the Gulf of Georgia
Sound and the Gulf of Georgia
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
survey of the Entrance and part of the Bay was made, and about
Feb. 1st 1854, I returned with the party to San Francisco.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Townsend I returned to San Francisco by steamer, leaving the
Fauntleroy to follow in charge of the Sailing Master.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
of season of 1864, was a small amount of triangulation in
Suisun Bay, California.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
after his death, Prof. Benjamin Peirce, Prof. of Mathematics
at Harvard University, was appointed Supt. (26th Feb. 1867).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
completion of the work thus referred to, the stormy weather
having set in, the vessel was laid up for the winter and the
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
the paper is, I offer it, trusting that out of the great amount
of chaff some few kernels of interest may by winnowed.
Assistant, Coast Survey
San Francisco, CA
March 7, 1879.