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Thursday, September 20th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | 1 Comment »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

Shortly after losing the status of Clallam County seat in an election in 1890, many in the town of New Dungeness picked up and moved across the river forming a community called, interestingly enough, Dungeness. This new hamlet even had an optimistic (although short-lived) newspaper: The Dungeness Beacon.

The following item was found at random in the July 29, 1892 issue, reprinted from Port Townsend’s Key City Graphic:


 The Gay and Festive Sea Serpent in the Vicinity of Dungeness.

 “We clip the following harrowing tale from the Key City Graphic of July 21st:”

“Yesterday morning, while the steamer Monticello was coming from Angeles to this city, and when almost directly opposite Dungeness, Captain Oliver says he saw the water in the Straits lashed into foam. Drawing near, to the surprise of the captain and all on board, a huge sea serpent, wrestling about in the waters as if fighting with an unseen enemy, was seen. It soon quieted down and lay at full length on the surface of the water. Captain Oliver estimates it to be about fifty feet in length and not less than four feet in circumference of the body. Its head was projecting from the water about four feet. He says it was a terrible looking object. It had viciously sparkling eyes and a large head. Fins were seen, seemingly sufficiently large to assist the snake through the water. The body was dark brown in color and was uniform all along. From what he says it would be capable of crushing a yawl boat and its occupants.”

“As the steamer passed on its course, the snake was seen disporting itself in the water. At the time the Straits were calm, and there could have been no mistake in recognizing the object.”

Sea serpent reports in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in general and Dungeness in particular have a long history. L.E. Bragg in Myths and Mysteries of Washington describes a sea serpent that was seen so frequently in the Strait in the 1930s that the citizens of Victoria gave it a name: “So many came forward after these reports were published that editor Archie Wills of the Victoria Daily Times held a contest to name the sea serpent. The winning entry was ‘Cadborosaurus,’ or ‘Caddy’ for short, named for Cadboro Bay just north of Victoria where it had been seen. Even after limiting reports to those that were signed and verified, Wills compiled a list of around 100 people, including three sea captains and the pilot who flew the mail between Seattle and Victoria, who had seen the beast.”

But I’d like to propose a new name for the serpent, at least for the one who hangs around the Washington State side of the Strait:


The Goliah and a Fata Morgana on Juan de Fuca

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | 1 Comment »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

Even when this randomly found article in the July 29, 1911 issue of The Irondale News was published, the Jefferson County town was already declining. In the 1880s-1890s Irondale seemed destined to become the steel center for the Pacific Northwest, but it was not to be.

In between all the columns of news coverage about the metal industry, I found this odd little piece. It almost reads like the lyrics to the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Just south of Port Townsend, Irondale was a waterfront town and interested in news of the Strait of Juan de Fuca:


 Officers of Tug Goliah Witness Remarkable Phenomena.

“Officers of the Tug Goliah reports having witnessed a wonderful mirage while crossing the Strait of Fuca Wednesday afternoon. During the mysterious phenomenon, which lasted nearly two hours, the Olympic mountain range was mirrored in the heavens while several vessels that appeared in the picture seemed to float in the clouds like so many aeroplanes.”

“The horizon seemed scarcely a mile away and the mountains seemed to hang from the clouds. The Olympics were apparently lifted a thousand feet in the air, while Smith island appeared at intervals in the clouds. The vessels in the picture were inverted and seemed sailing in a sea of clouds. The phenomenon was first noticed about noon and it lasted until about 2 o’clock.”

“Such mirages are not infrequent in the North Pacific and many travelers along the Alaskan coast have reported witnessing similar conditions in the Far North.”

This amazing form of mirage is called a Fata Morgana is not all that common in our corner of the world.

The Goliah, the tugboat mentioned in this article, was legendary. Gordon Newell devoted an entire chapter to this deepwater steam tug in his book, Pacific Tugboats. Built by John Dialogue of Camden, N.J. in 1907, the Goliah was towed by a sister tug, the Hercules, to San Francisco. Goliah was purchased by the Puget Sound Tug Boat Company in 1909. During the tug’s short stay in Washington State, it was involved in several exciting rescue missions as outlined by Newell. During World War I the tug was bought by the U.S. Navy where it had a supporting role in rescue and salvage in Europe. The Goliah spent its final decades owned by the Wood Towing Company of Norfolk, Va. It was scrapped in 1952, but its sister ship, the Hercules, still operates to this day under the status of a National Historic Landmark in the Bay Area.

A history of Irondale’s place in the Northwest steel industry can be found in Diane F. Britton’s The Iron and Steel Industry in the Far West : Irondale, Washington (1991).

Irondale has also recently been the subject of interest from the Washington State Dept. of Ecology. These publications have been digitized by the Washington State Library and can be viewed online.