It’s a big year in the Pacific Northwest for maritime anniversaries. The schooner Adventuress had her 100th birthday last year, but this year marks the completion of her 5-year Centennial Restoration project. Fisherman’s Terminal is 100. The Fishing Vessel Owner’s Association is 100 and so is the United States Power Squadron. Northwest Seaport turns 50, and the tug Arthur Foss, which that organization owns and maintains, is turning 125. There are parties all over the place in 2014!
The years in which all these noteworthy events originally occurred range from 1889 to 1964 but it’s mere chance they all happen to work out to such round numbers this year in particular. The really interesting thing, though, is how many of them happened in one year: 1914.
What was it about 1914 that sparked so many noteworthy events that would reverberate through the ages?
Of course, the most notable event that year on a global scale was a lamentable one: in Europe, the conflagration that was to become the First World War began with a series of events in the summer of 1914. But most of the effects of that conflict would come later, when the dangers of commerce across the Atlantic would become clear and the voracious demand for the relatively untapped resources of the Pacific Northwest would be driven by devastating losses and the exigencies of war.
In sleepy Seattle, on the other side of the globe from Sarajevo, the only event of 1914 that attracts mention in the Wikipedia timeline of the city is the completion of the Smith Tower (begun in 1910). Digging deeper, you’ll find the massive Grand Trunk Fire on the downtown waterfront also happened that year, and that Ed Monk, Senior, was just beginning his career as a shipwright.
The city was still riding high from its prominent role in supplying the Yukon during the Gold Rush years, and from providing timber for the reconstruction of San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire.
And as it happens, the boom during that decade was largely the result of lumber and maritime industries. The city had always been primarily accessible from and reliant on the sea; with the wealth of the boom years still in pocket, industry and government were investing in that resource heavily. Plans for the Lake Washington Ship Canal had been laid in the early part of the century and construction begun in 1911. The “Port of Seattle Fishermen’s Headquarters,” as Fishermen’s Terminal was first known, was begun as the first project of the newly established (also in 1911) Port of Seattle. And the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association formed as a trade association to represent boat owners engaged in the lucrative North Pacific halibut fishery.
The city was thinking big, and perhaps it is no great surprise that some of the enterprises founded to further its growth and prosperity remain and thrive after 100 years or more.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking further into each of the ships or organizations with anniversaries this year, looking back at their histories, and peering into their futures as well. And, of course, wishing each of them a happy anniversary!