Facts about the Smith Tower

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Buildings & Other Structures

One of Seattle’s most recohnizable buildings is celebrating its centennial this week.  The Smith Tower, the city’s first genuine skyscraper, was dedicated July 4, 1914, and reigned for a time as the tallest American building outside of New York City.  That was an astonishing achievement for an upstart pioneer town a continent away from the swath of east coast metropolises like Boston and Philadelphia.

To honor of the slender white skyscraper we compiled a list of Smith Tower facts — including the silly kerfuffle when Ivar Haglund flew a salmon windsock from the top and the city went nuts trying to enforce building codes. Study our notes, then crane your neck skyward — or comfortably ride one of the manually-operated elevators to the observation deck. Say happy birthday to the grand old tower.


  1. The address is 506 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.
  2. It stands 522 feet tall…
  3. …and boasts 42 floors.
  4. Seattle businessman John Clise sold several properties to Lyman Cornelius Smith of Syracuse, NY. One lot was at 2nd & Yesler.
  5. A Bartell’s Drug Store existed on the site.
  6. L.C. Smith was the founder of the Smith-Premier Typewriter Company (later Smith-Corona) and the L. C. Smith Shotgun Company in Syracuse, NY.
  7. The plaque near the front door mistakenly credits L.C. Smith as being involved with Smith & Wesson. That company was founded before L.C. Smith was born.
  8. Smith originally planned to raise an 18 story building on the lot. He said as much on a visit to Seattle in Nov, 1909. He raised his goals after visiting and speaking with his son Burns, a New York City resident in the then-newly-booming land of skyscrapers.
  9. The extravagant height was intended to draw publicity to Smith’s typewriter business.
  10. Smith was 60 years old when he  died in November, 1910 — before the tower went up.
  11. The land was cleared and construction of the Smith Tower began in November, 1911.
  12. It was designed by Gaggin & Gaggin of Syracuse, NY. The architects had never designed anything taller than a few floors before … and now they were building one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world?
  13. Seattle’s own E.E. Davis Company did the construction, and used nearly 4,000 tons of steel.
  14. The final construction cost was $1.7 million.
  15. The L.C. Smith Tower was dedicated and opened to the public on July 4, 1914 (although it was opened for 1,500 special guests the day before).
  16. When it opened, it was 4th tallest building in the country and the tallest in the United States outside of New York City.
  17. It greatly surpassed the 18-story J D Hoge Building (completed 1912) as the tallest in Seattle.
  18. It remained the tallest building west of the Mississippi River until 1962.
  19. The Space Needle, 80 feet taller, opened that year and took the crown.
  20. Today the Smith Tower is not even among Seattle’s Top 10 tallest skyscrapers. (See the photo at right in which the once “tallest building outside New York” appears to the right of the much larger Columbia Center.)
  21. Burns Smith reduced the name from the L.C. Smith Tower to simply the Smith Tower in 1929.
  22. The main building rises 24 floors, narrows to a tower, then climbs another 11 floors.  The remaining floors are situated under the pyramid cap.
  23. The entire structure is built on a steel frame, clad in white terra-cotta.
  24. The two lowest floors have a granite façade.
  25. There are 2,314 windows.
  26. You will find Alaskan marble and Mexican onyx in the lobby, with doors framed by steel fashioned to look like mahogany.
  27. The tower has seven Otis elevators, still operated by employees.
  28. They are believed to be the last manually-operated lifts in a skyscraper on the west coast.
  29. The elevators are trimmed with copper and brass.
  30. The observation deck is on the 35th floor and is accessible to the public for a fee whenever the space is not otherwise booked.
  31. The ornate Chinese Room with its detailed ceiling is also on the 35th floor.
  32. The blackwood furniture in the Chinese Room was a gift from the last Empress of China.
  33. The 1941 WPA guide to Washington described the room as “a reproduction of a Chinese temple … decorated with Cantonese furniture, bronze temple lanterns, and ornamental panels of porcelain and hand-carved teak.”
  34. The Wishing Chair in that room is said to have special powers. A single woman who chooses to sit in the chair will be married within 12 months.  Or so the legend goes.
  35. It is inscribed “Long life and good luck.”
  36. The Chinese Room may be rented for events with up to 99 people.
  37. The top 3 floors originally housed a water tank to supply the building below. The tank was long ago removed.
  38. That space was converted into a 3-floor penthouse apartment and is home to a private resident.
  39. Ivar Haglund, the fish & chips restaurateur (pictured at right, standing in the center behind a large windsock), bought the building for $1.8 million in May, 1976.
  40. In 1977, Ivar hoisted a 16-foot “rainbow salmon” windsock on the original (but long unused) 1914 flagpole. The windsock had been suggested and made by the Great Winds Kite Shop in Pioneer Square.*
  41. Within a week, Al Petty, the director of the Seattle Building Department, notified Ivar that he was in violation of a city ordinance prohibiting flags and pennants from downtown buildings.
  42. The ensuing battle between David (as played by Ivar) and Goliath (city hall) played out in the news media.  That kind of spectacle was something the “keep clam” publicity hound greatly enjoyed.
  43. Five months after the citation, the city backed down and issued a variance to let the fish fly (see photo, right), but not before very bad poetry was issued by nearly everyone involved. (Cheesy poetry was Ivar’s shtick.)
  44. The building was refurbished in 1999, by NBBJ and Mithun.
  45. To celebrate the 100th birthday, the Smith Tower is letting visitors ride the elevators to the observation deck July 4-6, 2014, for 25¢.
  46. In his 1961 volume You Still Can’t Eat Mt Rainier, William C. Speidel — the founder of Seattle’s Underground Tours –jokingly wrote that “publication of information about this city without mentioning this building is not permitted.”
  47. WA-List has now met that criteria.

*In my brief chat with Ken Conrad, I learned that he and an associate had been walking to their kite shop in Pioneer Square when his partner noticed the unused pole atop the Smith Tower. “Look at that,” he said. “An empty flagpole.” Conrad told him that Ivar Haglund recently bought the building. “Who’s Ivar Haglund?”  The flamboyant fish-monger, he replied.  Shortly after that discussion, the kite shop tried to gain a little publicity by having one of their Japanese koi windsocks fly from the flagpole. Ivar initially rejected the idea — even after insisting it must be a salmon to coincide with his restaurants. But later, after considering it for several days, he called Conrad and said “We gotta do this.” No one expected the significant publicity that followed; a little exposure, yes, but not a major comedic stand-off with the city.

TWO COLOR PHOTOS © Steve Campion
TWO BLACK & WHITE PHOTOS by Bob Miller, courtesy of Ken Conrad, Great Winds Kite Co.

SOURCES: In addition to the Speidel book mentioned in Fact #46, I referenced many sources for this list, including my boring, but matter-of-fact photograph of the street level plaque near the front door, and my first-hand experiences on the 35th floor.  Then there were books: Seattle Architecture by Maureen R. Elenga, Exploring Washington’s Past: A Road Guide to History by Ruth Kirk and Carmela Alexander, Seattle Curiosities by Steve Pomper, and Ivar: The Life and Times of Ivar Haglund by Dave Stephens. The guide mention in #33 was Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State, part of the WPA Writers’ Program. I also consulted the official Smith Tower website. and talked to Ken Conrad of the Great Winds Kite Company, which still manufactures kites but no longer maintains a kite shop.


Washington’s 38 County Highpoints

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Geography & Geology

Looking for a summit challenge?   The world’s most famous mountaineers take on the “seven summits,” climbing the highest peak on each continent. Adventurous nomads closer to home try to bag the highest points in all 50 states.  But if you don’t have the money and technical skills for the first goal nor the time for the second, you might still manage to reach the summits listed below.  They are the highpoints in each of Washington’s 39 counties.

Personal note: This may be the first WA-List I ever put together — long before I created the website and probably before any website existed anywhere. About twenty five years ago I was already acquainted with the seven summits when I ran across an article describing the “Highpointers” who scale everything from Alaska’s Mt McKinley to Florida’s highest “peak” (elevation: 345 feet) which is really just a slight rise a few yards from a roadway.  It occurred to me that I could afford neither the time nor money either goal required and thus conjured a poor man’s list: 39 county summits.  I sprawled topo maps on the floor and began comparing little elevation circles one jurisdiction at a time.

It turned out there were only 38 highpoints because King and Kittitas share a peak, and some are simply the slopes of taller peaks in adjacent counties.  I also learned that Skamania’s highpoint had changed in my lifetime. When Mt St Helens blew its top in 1980, it lost 1,322 feet of elevation and the title shifted to one of those slopes where the county line straddles the side of Mt Adams.

For our list today, we dug up my old list and re-analyzed data for the list below, making adjustments as needed.  I’m confident the locations and rankings correct, but source materials sometimes disagreed about numbers in the elevation column.  We pooled all the best sources, though, and feel assured that everything listed below is accurate to within ten feet.  Most should be right on the mark.

So how may county highpoints have I personally bagged in this “poorer man’s” quest?  One.  San Juan County’s Mt Constitution. Yes, although I compiled this list 25 years ago and have seen most of these summits, I have never intentionally set out to plant my flag on them.

WARNING:  If you venture out to claim these summits, then bravo!  Just be sure you remember that not all of the county highpoints are on public land.  Be respectful of landowners’ rights and ask permission when appropriate.



Elevation (feet) County Highpoint
14,411 Pierce Mount Rainier
12,276 Yakima Mount Adams
10,781 Whatcom Mount Baker
10,520 Snohomish Glacier Peak
9,511 Chelan Bonanza Peak
9,114 Skagit Mount Buckner
8,956 Okanogan North Gardner Mountain
 8,920 Skamania Western slope of Mount Adams on the Yakima border
8,000 Lewis Big Horn
7,969 Jefferson Mount Olympus’s west peak
7,960 King & Kittitas Mount Daniel
7,320 Pend Oreille Gypsy Peak
 7,308 Stevens Abercrombie Mountain
7,218 Clallam North side of Gray Wolf Ridge, about 15 miles south of Sequim
7,140 Ferry Copper Butte
6,612 Mason Mount Stone
6,387 Columbia Oregon Butte
 6,379 Garfield Diamond Peak
6,185 Asotin Ray Ridge
5,883 Spokane Mount Spokane
5,823 Klickitat Indian Rock
4,965 Cowlitz Goat Mountain
4,888 Walla Walla Lewis Peak
4,880 Grays Harbor Wynoochee Point
4,254 Douglas Badger Mountain
4,120 Clark Sturgeon Fin on the western ridge of Sturgeon Rock near the Skamania County line
4,009 Whitman Tekoa Mountain
3,629 Benton Unnamed location in the Rattlesnake Hills about 14 miles north of Grandview
3,568 Lincoln Lilienthal Mountain
3,000 Pacific Unnamed location near the headwaters of the Grays River, 15 miles north of Skamokawa
2,922 Thurston Quiemuth Peak
2,899 Grant Ulysses S. Hill in the Beezley Hills
 2,673 Wahkiakum Huckleberry Ridge
2,407 San Juan Mount Constitution
2,100 Adams Karakul Hills
1,761 Kitsap Gold Mountain
1,640 Franklin Unnamed location about 8 miles northeast of Kahlotus near the Adams County line
580 Island Camano Crest

PHOTO of the central core of major peaks in the Olympic Mountains (including Jefferson County’s highpoint) © Steve Campion.

SOURCES: My original list was compiled using USGS topographical maps.  It was tedious and, it turns out, only 90% accurate.  The biggest Cascade peaks were easy to spot, of course, but the lower elevation counties took some guesswork.  For the list above I began with my original list, then began consulting more recent maps, DeLorme’s Washington Atlas, and half a dozen climbing and highpointer websites (which have all appeared in the last 25 years; imagine that. *smirk*).  The most useful of the webistes were County HighpointersPeakbagger, and RhinoClimbs. We consulted The Mountaineers website to mediate one disputed measurement. I didn’t use the official Highpointers site for this list because it deals with states rather than counties, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. The first man known to reach all the state highpoints in America is said to be Arthur Harmon Marshall (1886-1951), who summited the then 48 states over 17 years.  He started his national adventure in 1919 with — what else? — Washington’s Mt Rainier!


Final Addresses: Medal of Honor Recipients from Washington

Published by Steve Campion. Category: People


The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor given to a member of the United States armed forces, awarded for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.  Some medals are awarded posthumously, but many are presented to the serviceman or woman by the President in the name of the Congress.  Because the tradition is now more than 150 years old, most recipients have passed away but have not been forgotten.

We thought it fitting on this Memorial Day weekend to list the final resting places of all Medal of Honor recipients interred in the state of Washington.  Together they represent all branches of the service and almost all military conflicts dating back to the Civil War — the era in which the Medal of Honor was created.

Headstones are often easy to identify with a standard shield and wording. Caretakers usually ensure that flags are present and, on special days, flowers as well.

Appended to the main list below are also those Washingtonians we were able to identify as having been buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, and elsewhere, as well as a list of names of our living Washington Medal of Honor veterans.  These additional lists are incomplete due to the difficulty of defining “someone from Washington” when people may live in many places over a lifetime.


Aberdeen: Fern Hill Cemetery

  • John Baxter Kinne (1877-1954) Philippine Insurrection. Private, Company B, 1st North Dakota Infantry.

Bellingham: Bayview Cemetery

  • Matthew Bickford (1839-1918) Civil War. Corporal, Company G, 8th Missouri Infantry.

Bremerton: Ivy Green Cemetery

  • John Nibbe (1847-1902) Civil War. Quartermaster, U.S. Navy.

Bremerton: Miller-Woodlawn Memorial Park

  • John “Bud” Hawk (1924-2013) World War II. Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company E, 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division.

Cle Elum: Laurel Hill Memorial Park

  • Douglas Albert Munro (1919-1942) World War II. Signalman First Class, U.S. Coast Guard. Posthumous award.

Elma: Masonic Cemetery

  • Emisire Shahan (1843-1919) Civil War. Corporal, Company A, 1st West Virginia Cavalry.

Gardiner: Gardiner Cemetery

  • Marvin Glenn Shields (1939-1965) Vietnam. Construction Mechanic Third Class, U.S. Navy, Seabee Team 1104. Posthumous award.

Kent: Tahoma National Cemetery

  • Jesse Barrick (1841-1923) Civil War. Corporal, Company H, 3d Minnesota Infantry.
  • Jack James Pendleton (1918-1944) World War II. Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 120th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division. Posthumous award.
  • Dexter James Kerstetter (1907-1972) World War II. Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 130th Infantry, 33d Infantry Division.

Lakewood: Mountain View Cemetery

  • Jose Calugas (1907-1998) World War II. Sergeant, U.S. Army, Battery B, 88th Field Artillery, Philippine Scouts.

Menlo: Fern Hill Cemetery

  • Robert Eugene Bush (1926-2005). World War II. Hospital Apprentice First Class, U.S. Naval Reserve, serving as Medical Corpsman with a rifle company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division.

Orting: City Cemetery

  • John Warden (1841-1906) Civil War. Corporal, Company E, 55th Illinois Infantry.

Orting: Soldiers Home Cemetery

  • George L. Houghton (1841-1917) Civil War. Private, Company D, 104th Illinois Infantry.
  • Alexander U. McHale (1837-1911) Civil War. Corporal, Company H, 26th Michigan Infantry.
  • Albert O’Connor (1843-1928) Civil War. Sergeant, Company A, 7th Wisconsin Infantry.
  • William H. Sickles (1843-1938) Civil War. Sergeant, Company B, 7th Wisconsin Infantry.

Pomeroy: Pomeroy City Cemetery

  • Herbert E. Farnsworth (1834-1908) Civil War. Sergeant Major, 10th New York Cavalry.

Port Townsend: Laurel Grove Cemetery

  • Thaddeus S. Smith (1847-1933) Civil War. Corporal, Company E, 6th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry.

Retsil: Washington Veterans Home Cemetery

  • Gotfred Jensen (1872-1945) Philippine Insurrection. Private, Company D, 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry.

Seattle: Acacia Memorial Park

  • Robert Bonney (1882-1967) Interim, 1901-1911. Chief Watertender, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. Hopkins.

Seattle: Cavalry Cemetery

  • Raymond E. Davis (1887-1965). Korean War. Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.).

Seattle: Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery

  • William Charlie Horton (1876-1969) China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion). Private, U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Emil Fredreksen (1867-1950), Interim, 1901-1911. Watertender, U.S. Navy.*
  • Harry D. Fadden (1883-1955), Interim, 1901-1911. Coxswain, U.S. Navy.
  • William Kenzo Nakamura (1922-1944) World War II. Private First Class, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Posthumous award.
  • Orville Emil Bloch (1915-1985) World War II. First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company E, 338th Infantry, 85th Infantry Division.
  • Lewis Albanese (1946-1966) Vietnam. Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 5th Battalion (Airmobile), 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. Posthumous award.
  • Robert Ronald Leisy (1945-1969) Vietnam. Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Infantry, Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division.

Seattle: Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery

  • Frank Bois (1841-1920) Civil War. Quartermaster, U.S. Navy.

Seattle: Lakeview Cemetery

  • Asbury F. Haynes (1842-1931) Civil War. Corporal, Company F, 17th Maine Infantry.

Seattle: Mount Pleasant Cemetery

  • Demetri Corahorgi (1880-1973). Interim, 1901-1911. Fireman First Class, U.S. Navy.

Spokane: Fairmont Memorial Park

  • Jesse R. Drowley (1919-1996) World War II. Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Americal Infantry Division.

Spokane: Greenwood Memorial Terrace

  • Joe E. Mann (1922-1944), World War II. Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company H, 502d Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.
  • Bruce Alan Grandstaff (1934-1967) Vietnam. Platoon Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry.

Tacoma: New Tacoma Cemetery

  • Richard B. Anderson (1921-1944), World War II. Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps. Posthumous award.

Tukwila: Riverton Crest Cemetery

  • Jerome Morford (1841-1910) Civil War. Private, Company K, 55th Illinois Infantry.

Tumwater: International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery

  • Myron H. Ranney (1846-1910) Civil War. Private, Company G, 13th New York Infantry.

Vancouver: Fort Vancouver Military Cemetery

  • Moses Williams (1845-1899) Civil War, 9th Cavalry Regiment

Walla Walla: Mountain View Cemetery

  • Michael McCarthy (1845-1914) Civil War, 1st U.S. Cavalry


Washington MOH Recipients buried at Arlington National Cemetery

  • Deming Bronson (1894-1957) World War I. First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company H, 364th Infantry, 91st Division.
  • Gregory “Pappy” Boyington (1912-1988) World War II. Major, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Marine Squadron 214, known as the Black Sheep Squadron.
  • Jonathan M. Wainwright IV (1883-1953) World War II. General, Commanding U.S. Army Forces in the Philippines.
  • Walter C. Monegan Jr. (1930-1950) Korean War. Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, Company F, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Posthumous award.
  • Delbert O. Jennings (1936-2003) Vietnam. Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 12th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division.
  • Joe Ronnie Hooper (1938-1979). Vietnam. Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.

Washington MOH Recipients buried Elsewhere

  • Hazard Stevens (1842-1918) Civil War. Captain and Assistant Adjutant General, U.S. Volunteers.
  • Richard Moses Longfellow (1867-1951). Philippine Insurrection. Private, Company A, 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry.
  • Abraham DeSomer (1884-1974). Mexican Campaign, Vera Cruz. Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. Utah.
  • Donald Kirby Ross (1910-1992). World War II. Machinist, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. Nevada.
  • Albert H. Rooks (1891-1942) World War II. Captain, U.S. Navy. Posthumous award.
  • Robert Edward Galer (1913-2005) World War II. Major, U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Fighter Squadron 244.
  • Reinhardt John Keppler (1918-1942) World War II. Boatswain’s Mate First Class, U.S. Navy.Posthumous award.
  • Arnold L. Bjorklund (1918-1979) World War II. First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 36th Infantry Division.
  • Victor L. Kandle (1921-1944) World War II. First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Posthumous award.
  • Richard Miles McCool Jr. (1922-2008), World War II. Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. LSC(L)(3) 122.
  • Archie Van Winkle (1925-1986) Korean War. Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.).
  • Benjamin F. Wilson (1922-1988) Korean War. First Lieutenant (then M/Sgt.), U.S. Army Company I, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
  • Larry Dahl (1949-1971) Vietnam. Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, 359th Transportation Company, 27th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Army Support Command. Posthumous award.

Living Medal of Honor Recipients from Washington:

  • Wilburn K. Ross (b. 1922) World War II, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
  • Joe M. Jackson (b. 1923) Vietnam
  • Bruce P. Crandall (b. 1933) Vietnam
  • Patrick H. Brady (b. 1936) Vietnam
  • James Phillip Fleming (b. 1943) Vietnam
  • Thomas James Kinsman (b. 1945) Vietnam
  • Leroy Petry (b. 1979) Afghanistan, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment

*Emil Fredreksen was added to our list in 2016, after a researcher alerted Evergreen-Washelli that a Medal of Honor recipient was in an unmarked grave. (The grave had a small temporary marker but it had sunken below the surface in the decades since burial.) He had earned his medal in 1906, worked in Keyport and Seattle, but because he had no family when he died in 1950, his honor was not known. The cemetery immediately began rectifying the situation with an official Navy ceremony and formal headstone.

PHOTOS of five Medal of Honor headstones in Orting cemeteries © Steve Campion.

SOURCES: Medal of Honor Recipients, Center of Military History, http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/, and Washington State Men of Valor by Donald Ross, a collection of MOH biographies.


The Original Mercer Girls

Published by Steve Campion. Category: People

Seattle had potential in its early days.  What it didn’t have was an abundance of women.  The pioneer city in 1864 — barely a decade old — could boast newspapers, a logging industry, an active seaport, and even a new university. But it also had a noticeable imbalance in the sexes.  Civic boosters knew that Seattle needed women if the city was to prosper.

Asa Mercer (1839-1917), the president of the newly created Territorial University (now the University of Washington), proposed a venture to travel east and persuade as many young women to follow him back to the Northwest.  There, his speeches promised, were ample opportunities for good-paying teaching jobs. He may have been assisted in his quest by the Civil War.  With many young men at war (or causalities of it) and with the textile industry suffering in New England mill towns due to the shortage of cotton from the South, the shattered economy offered little hope for single women.  Still, women in Massachusetts weren’t exactly racing to board Mercer’s Seattle-bound ship.

His greatest success was in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he convinced eight women to re-settle in the Northwest.  Two additional women joined his congregation from Pepperell, Massachusetts, and one from Boston.  Mercer and the eleven women — and two fathers — took a train to New York harbor where a ship (the S.S. Illinois) departed on a 10-day voyage to Panama on March 14. They would cross the isthmus, board another ship (the S.S. America) April 3, land at San Francisco April 19, board a lumber ship (the Torrant) for Port Gamble nine days later, and finally transfer to a sloop (the Kidder) for the final day and a half journey to Seattle.

They arrived in Seattle very late — close to midnight — on May 16, 1864. They secured rooms at a local hotel and got some rest.  The next day, however, they were feted and welcomed at a celebration at Mercer’s university.  Eleven additional women did not make a significant demographic difference in the city, nor did Mercer’s second trip east for more women two years later.  (That venture returned 34 unmarried women to Seattle.) But the event propelled Mercer’s election to the legislature, became local lore, and was the basis of the fictional 1960s TV series “Here Come the Brides.”

We list the original “Mercer Girls” below.  Most of the women took teaching jobs and married.  Mercer himself, married Annie Stephens, a Mercer Girl from his second expedition in 1866.


  • Annie May Adams, age 16, from Boston. Annie planned to sail as far as San Francisco, but changed her mind, and continued on to Seattle. She married and lived in Olympia.
  • Antoinette Josephine Baker, 25, from Lowell. She taught school in Pierce County and married a man from Monticello — an area occupied by modern Longview.
  • Sarah Cheney, 22, from Lowell. Sarah taught school in Port Townsend, and later married.
  • Aurelia Coffin, 20, from Lowell. She married in lived in Port Ludlow.
  • Sara Jane Gallagher, 19, from Lowell. Sara married a year after arriving in Seattle, and taught music at the university.
  • Ann Murphy, 24 (age unconfirmed), from Lowell.  Ann was the only woman among the first eleven Mercer Girls to leave the Washington Territory.
  • Elizabeth (Lizzie) Ordway, 35, from Lowell.  Lizzie was the oldest of the original Mercer Girls. She taught school on Whidbey Island, Port Madison, Seattle, and Port Blakely. She was later elected superintendent of Kitsap County schools.
  • Georgianna (Georgia) Pearson, 15, from Lowell. Georgia was the youngest Mercer Girl.  She and her sister Josie brought their father Daniel Pearson on the trip.  He had been ill and it was believed that a change of climate might to him some good.  They left their mother Susan, brother Daniel, and sister Flora in Lowell, but they too traveled to Seattle with Asa Mercer in 1866. Georgia later married and lived on Whidbey Island.
  • Josephine (Josie) Pearson, 19, from Lowell. Josie died during her first summer in Seattle.
  • Katherine (Kate) Stevens, 21, from Pepperell.  Katherine was accompanied by Rodolphus Stevens, her father. Katherine married and lived in Port Townsend.
  • Catherine Adams (Kate) Stickney, 28, from Pepperell.  She and Kate Stevens were cousins.  Kate Stickney was the first Mercer Girl to marry (two months after arriving in Seattle).  She died five years later.

SOURCES: There is quite a lot written about the fabled “Mercer Girls.”  Online you will find a substantial article at HistoryLink.com.  Short accounts of the story can also be had in Murray Morgan’s book Skid Road and William Spiedel’s Sons of the Profits. Nard Jones devoted a chapter to the Mercer Girls episode in Seattle. Don’t rely on the “Here Come the Brides” television series, though.  Aside from the general storyline — i.e., a Seattle man goes to Massachusetts and returns with several unmarried women — the series is pure fiction.


A Snapshot of Shipping: One Day on the Water

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Business & Industry

You may see quite a few trucks during your daily commute.  Maybe a freight train crosses your path now and then.  But unless you come within sight of salt water, you’re unlikely to notice the mode of shipping that carries out the most trade.

The size of some ships, as seen by landlubbers from a few miles away, is misleading.  One large container ship can carry over 15,000 boxes.  Each box, when landed on a truck trailer chassis, becomes the cargo pulled by a big rig on our highways or by locomotives on a train car.  One ship.  15,000 containers.  And each box might carry toys or sports equipment or electronics or car parts or cars or cat food– all measured in the tons.  It boggles the mind.

We recently read Ninety Percent of Everything, a book for the popular nonfiction market by British author Rose George.  Her fascinating depiction of the “invisible industry” that moves, well, 90% of everything, provoked us to research some of the ships that invisibly come and go through our Northwest waterways.*

We decided to take a snapshot: One day of bulk container ships and tankers either anchored or plying through Washington waters.  We settled on one random day because many ships dock for only a few hours to a couple days, load or unload, and depart.  Below is that snapshot, “taken” on April 14, 2014.


Strait of Juan de Fuca

Ship Flag Type Status
Alaskan Frontier United States Tanker Underway
Blue Sapphire Marshall Islands Cargo Underway
Eastern Asia Panama Cargo Underway
Galaxy Ace Liberia Cargo Underway
Graceful Leader Bahamas Cargo Underway
Granville Bridge Panama Cargo Underway
Gulf Reliance United States Tanker Underway
Hoegh Trove Norway Cargo Underway
Horizon Consumer United States Cargo Underway
Nave Ariadne Cayman Islands Tanker Underway
Panagia Stenion Cypress Cargo Underway
Port Shanghai Panama Cargo Underway
Renascentia Marshall Islands Cargo Underway
Rose Atlantic Panama Cargo Underway
Tatry Liberia Cargo Underway
Widar Liberia Cargo Underway

Hood Canal

Ship Flag Type Status
Hos Eagleview United States Cargo Anchored

Bellingham Bay (Bellingham)

Ship Flag Type Status
Seavictory Malta Tanker Anchored

Samish Bay

Ship Flag Type Status
Princimar Grace Marshall Islands Tanker Anchored
Sound Reliance United States Tanker Anchored

North Puget Sound

Ship Flag Type Status
Coastal Progress United States Cargo Underway
Josco Changzhou Hong Kong Cargo Underway
Nin Malta Cargo Underway

Salmon Bay (Seattle)

Ship Flag Type Status
Botany Bay United States Cargo Anchored
Coastal Merchant United States Cargo Anchored
Velero IV United States Cargo Anchored

Elliott Bay (Seattle)

Ship Flag Type Status
African Teist Panama Cargo Underway
Hyundai Force Panama Cargo Anchored
Jupiter Charm Panama Cargo Anchored
MOL Magnificence Marshall Islands Cargo Anchored

Central Puget Sound

Ship Flag Type Status
Ever Union Panama Cargo Anchored
Medonica United States Cargo Anchored

Commencement Bay (Tacoma)

Ship Flag Type Status
Anne Mette Bulker Britain Cargo Anchored
Calypso Colossus Singapore Cargo Anchored
Glorious Kamagari Marshall Islands Cargo Anchored
Hanover Express Germany Cargo Anchored
Horizon Tacoma United States Cargo Anchored
OOCL Britain Hong Kong Cargo Anchored
OCCL London Hong Kong Cargo Anchored

Budd Inlet (Olympia)

Ship Flag Type Status
Inland Sea Marshall Islands Cargo Anchored

The Pacific Coast

Ship Flag Type Status
Atlantic Tramp Panama Cargo Underway
Luzon Strait Hong Kong Cargo Underway
Morning Chorus Singapore Cargo Underway
MSC Eleni Panama Cargo Underway
Ocean Harmony Singapore Cargo Underway
Ramada Queen Panama Cargo Underway
Seattle Cypress Cargo Underway
Vsc Castor Liberia Cargo Underway

The Lower Columbia River

Ship Flag Type Status
Ariana Malta Cargo Underway
King Yukon Panama Cargo Underway
New Creation Panama Cargo Underway
Ocean Reliance United States Tanker Anchored

Columbia River (Longview area)

Ship Flag Type Status
Aarti Prem Liberia Cargo Anchored
Aster K Panama Cargo Anchored
Aurora Bulker Panama Cargo Anchored
Copacabana Liberia Cargo Anchored
Glorious Kauri Panama Cargo Anchored
Isla De Cedrus Hong Kong Cargo Anchored
Union Erwin Marshall Islands Cargo Anchored
Utra Vanscoy Panama Cargo Underway
Vishva Ekta India Cargo Anchored

Mid Columbia River (between Longview and Vancouver)

Ship Flag Type Status
Bulk Poland Singapore Cargo Anchored
Santa Serena Panama Cargo Underway
Sombeke Belgium Tanker Underway

Columbia River (Vancouver area)

Ship Flag Type Status
Chembulk Hogkong Singapore Tanker Anchored
Golden Island Panama Cargo Anchored
Idship Bulker Hong Kong Cargo Anchored
Lake Konpira Panama Cargo Anchored
New General Panama Cargo Anchored
Star Lygra Marshall Islands Cargo Anchored

Upper Columbia River (east of Vancouver)

 No large ship is currently east of Vancouver, but ships do routinely travel the Columbia and Snake Rivers as far as Lewistown, Idaho.

*We originally wrote “quietly” come and go, but, as Rose George described in her book, modern maritime traffic is anything but quiet to the marine animals living in the water.  We settled on “invisibly” and meant it from the perspective of the average human resident.

PHOTO: Horizon Tacoma in the Sitcum Waterway, Tacoma © 2014 Steve Campion.

SOURCE: Some ships were visually identified.  Others were derived from Marine Traffic.


Seattle Streets: Puget’s Unforgettable Scenery Makes California Jealous

Published by Steve Campion. Category: HA! List, Place Names

“Jesus Christ made Seattle under protest.”

No. that’s not a Biblical quote.  It doesn’t even make sense.  The sentence is a six word mnemonic device for remembering streets names in downtown Seattle.  The city’s core has twelve consecutive east-west streets that line up in convenient pairs.  Beginning near Pioneer Square and moving north, a Seattleite crosses Jefferson Street, James Street, Cherry Street, Columbia Street, etc.  The initial letters of those streets accumulate to J J C C M M S S U U P P or — eliminating the duplicates — J C M S U P.

Some imaginative soul many years ago came up with the phrase: Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest.* We’ve heard variations. Some people swap “pressure” for “protest” and Julius Caesar for Jesus Christ. Like the original, none of the alternatives express sound theology or anything approaching logic.  But what does logic matter if it jogs your memory about the sequence of a dozen downtown streets?

We’d like to propose a better mnemonic.  As we assembled this WA-List, we were bothered by the backwardness of the Jesus sentence.  We wanted our list to read north-to-south in the same orientation of as most maps.  So we flipped the order and came up with a six word sentence that makes much more sense:

“Puget’s unforgettable scenery makes California jealous.”

It reads down the map, north to south, with no intrusions by religious figures or Roman emperors. It’s a mnemonic that uses the word “unforgettable.” And it’s pure, unvarnished truth.


Downtown streets, from north to south Old mnemonic Our suggested mnemonic
Pine Protest Puget’s
Union Under Unforgettable
Seneca Seattle Scenery
Madison Made Makes
Columbia Christ California
James Jesus Jealous

PHOTOS of street signs taken by Steve Campion, Oct 20, 2013.

*We’re unsure who invented the Jesus mnemonic. The earliest mention we were able to find in print was on page 197 of our tattered 1972 copy of Seattle by Nard Jones. In two sentences Jones tossed out the words as a memory trick he knew from boyhood. The phrase is probably much, much older. We’ll keep looking.


Washington Olympic Medalists in Sochi, 2014

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Sports & Recreation

SEE ALSO: Washington Olympic Medalists in London, 2012

The 2014 Olympics in Sochi are over* and our Washington athletes will pack for home.  Three of them will have medals in their luggage.  After posting our 2014 Olympians list earlier this month, we dutifully tracked the competition schedule and results each day — medal or otherwise. Now that the Games are over, we present the final Washington tally: 2 gold1 silver, and 1 bronze.  The two gold medals went to a White Salmon man who snowboarded for Russia, the host country and his wife’s homeland. Our four total medals matched Great Britain. If our state was a country, it would snuggle into 16th place between Slovenia and Japan in the typical medal standings (where medals are ranked by total gold, then silver, then bronze).  That’s not bad for a state!


Athlete(s) Washington Connection Event Medal
Vic Wild White Salmon Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom Gold
Vic Wild White Salmon Men’s Parallel Slalom Gold
J. R. Celski Federal Way (Todd Beamer High School) Men’s Speed Skating 5000m Relay Silver
 Ashley Wagner  Seabeck, Tacoma  Team Ice Dance Free Dance Skating Bronze


Athlete(s) Event Final Result
Erik Bjornsen Men’s 15 km Skiathlon 42nd
Erik Bjornsen Men’s Sprint Free 39th
Erik Bjornsen Men’s 15km Classic 38th
Erik Bjornsen Men’s 4x10km Relay 11th
Erik Bjornsen  Men’s Team Sprint Classic 6th
Sadie Bjornsen Women’s 7.5km Skiathlon 31st
Sadie Bjornsen Women’s 10km Classic 18th
Sadie Bjornsen Women’s 4x5km Relay 9th
Holly Brooks  Women’s 7.5km Skiathlon 47th
Holly Brooks Women’s 10km Classic 35th
Roberto Carcelen Men’s 15km Classic 87th
J. R. Celski Men’s Speed Skating 1500m 4th
J. R. Celski Men’s Speed Skating 1000m 13th
J. R. Celski Men’s Speed Skating 500m 6th
Patrick Deneen Men’s Moguls 6th
Brian Gregg  Men’s 15 km Skiathlon 47th
Brian Gregg Men’s 15km Classic 47th
Torin Koos   Men’s Sprint Free Finals  37th
Christian Niccum Luge Doubles 11th
Christian Niccum Luge Team Relay 6th
T.J. Oshie  Men’s Hockey 4th
Amy Sheehan  Women’s Halfpipe 10th
Angeli Van Laanen Women’s Halfpipe 11th
Ashley Wagner  Ladies Free Skating 7th

*It’s over for Washington athletes, at least. The last competitions and closing ceremony is Sunday.

SOURCE: We started with our original Washington athlete list, and kept abreast with the results on the official Sochi Olympics page.


Washington Athletes in Sochi

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Sports & Recreation

See also our 2014 RESULTS LIST

Washingtonians can root for more than a dozen local athletes during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.  The contingent is lead by J.R. Celski, the speed skater from Federal Way who won two bronze medals in the 2010 Vancouver games.  For Woodinville’s Christian Niccum, Sochi will be his third Olympic games.  Holly Brooks, Patrick Deneen, and Torin Koos are competing in their second.  Among the other Washingtonians are three from the Methow Valley, two of which are siblings.  Three local athletes are competing for other countries!

Below are the 2014 Olympians with a Washington connection, their specific events, and the dates of their events’ medal finals.  (Entries and dates are subject to change.)  May their gym bags be a medal or two heavier when they return home.  Best wishes to all!


Figure Skating

  •  Ashley Wagner, 21, of Seabeck, trained in Tacoma.
    Events: Team Ice Dance Free Dance (Feb 9), Ladies Free Skating (Feb 20)


  •  T.J. Oshie, 27, born in Mount Vernon, raised in Everett.
    Event: Men’s Hockey (Feb 23)


  •  *Christian Niccum, 36, lives in Woodinville.
    Events: Luge Doubles (Feb 12), Luge Team Relay (Feb 13)

Skiing, Cross-Country

  •  Erik Bjornsen, 22, born and lives in Winthrop; attended Liberty Bell High School.
    Events: Men’s 15 km Skiathlon (Feb 9), Men’s Sprint Free (Feb 11), Men’s 15km Classic (Feb 14), Men’s 4x10km Relay (Feb 16), Men’s Team Sprint Classic (Feb 19)
  •  Sadie Bjornsen, 24, born in Omak, grew up in Winthrop.
    Events: Women’s 7.5km Skiathlon (Feb 8), Women’s Indiv. Sprint Free (Feb 11), Women’s 10km Classic (Feb 13), Women’s 4x5km Relay (Feb 15), Women’s Team Sprint Classic (Feb 19)
  •  *Holly Brooks, 31, born and raised in Seattle, skied often at Snoqualmie Pass, attended Whitman College.
    Events: Women’s 7.5km Skiathlon (Feb 8), Women’s Indiv. Sprint Free (Feb 11), Women’s 10km Classic (Feb 13), Women’s 4x5km Relay (Feb 15), Women’s Team Sprint Classic (Feb 19)
  • Roberto Carcelen, 43, lives in Seattle.
    Events: Men’s 15km Classic (Feb 14)
  •  Brian Gregg, 29, born and raised in Winthrop; attended Liberty Bell High School.
    Events: Men’s 15 km Skiathlon (Feb 9), Men’s Sprint Free (Feb 11), Men’s 15km Classic (Feb 14), Men’s 4x10km Relay (Feb 16), Men’s Team Sprint Classic (Feb 19)
  •  *Torin Koos, 33, lives in Leavenworth, attended Cascade High School.
    Events: Men’s 15 km Skiathlon (Feb 9), Men’s Sprint Free Finals (Feb 11), Men’s 15km Classic (Feb 14), Men’s 4x10km Relay (Feb 16), Men’s Team Sprint Classic (Feb 19)

Skiing, Freestyle

  •  *Patrick Deneen, 26, born in Redmond, grew up and was homeschooled in Cle Elum.
    Event: Men’s Moguls (Feb 10)
  •  Angeli Van Laanen, 28, born in Bellingham.
    Event: Women’s Halfpipe (Feb 20)
  • Amy Sheehan, 27, lives in Wenatchee.
    Events: Women’s Halfpipe (Feb 20)


  • Vic Wild, 27, born and raised in White Salmon.
    Events: Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom (Feb 19), Men’s Slalom (Feb 22)

Speed Skating, Short Track

  •  *J. R. Celski, 23, grew up in Federal Way; attended Todd Beamer High School.
    Events: 1500m (Feb 10), 1000m (Feb 15), 500m (Feb 21), 5000m Relay (Feb 21)

* Athlete has been to the Olympics before.

Note: The definition of a Washington athlete is necessarily squishy.  Brian Gregg, for instance, was born in Winthrop but now lives in Minneapolis; Koos was born in Minneapolis and now lives in Leavenworth. Three others live in Salt Lake City or Anchorage these days.  Three are competing for other countries — including Vic Wild. Wild is a native of White Salmon, WA, but, due to his marriage to a Russian Olympian, is making a go of it on his wife’s team.  Most listed grew up in Washington and took up their sport here.

SOURCE: We scoured several websites — primarily the athlete biography sections of the Team USA and the NBC Olympics websites — and some individual athlete webpages.

LOGO of the United States Olympic Team logo is used here with permission of the USOC.


Pete Carroll Joins an Elite Coaches Club

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Sports & Recreation

Only three football head coaches have won national titles at both the college and professional level of the sport. That is no simple feat considering the great number of teams and the vast differences in organization and team-building dynamics.  With the Seattle Seahawks win in Super Bowl XLVIII, Pete Carroll became the newest member of that elite club.

Here is the very short list and the seasons that earned the national titles.



Pete Carroll (born 1951)

Southern California Trojans

  • Season: 12-1
  • Rose Bowl win (Jan 1, 2004)
Southern California Trojans

  • Season: 11-0
  • Orange Bowl win (Jan 4, 2005)

  • Season: 13-3
  • Post-season: 3-0
  • Super Bowl win (Feb 2, 2014)

Barry Switzer (born 1937)

Oklahoma Sooners

  • Season 11-0
Oklahoma Sooners

  • Season: 11-1
  • Orange Bowl win (Jan 1, 1976)
Oklahoma Sooners

  • Season: 11-1
  • Orange Bowl win (Jan 1, 1986)
1995 Dallas Cowboys

  • Season: 12-4
  • Postseason: 3-0
  • Super Bowl win (Jan 28, 1996)

Jim Johnson (born 1943)

Miami Hurricanes

  • Season: 12-0
  • Orange Bowl win (Jan 1, 1988)
1992 Dallas Cowboys

  • Season: 13-3
  • Postseason 3-0
  • Super Bowl win (Jan 31, 1993)
1993 Dallas Cowboys

  • Season: 12-4
  • Postseason: 3-0
  • Super Bowl win (Jan 30, 1994)

SEE ALSO: World Championships by Seattle Teams


World Championships by Seattle Teams

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Sports & Recreation

It’s going be a party all over the Northwest this week after the Seattle Seahawks dominated the Denver Broncos in today’s Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8. They led the game beginning with the safety 12 seconds into the game. (Twelve seconds; the Seahawks are awash in 12s!)

Seattle hasn’t claimed a world championship in men’s pro sports since 1979, so this is sweet!  Here’s a quick list of all the titles going back to an oft-forgotten hockey championship in 1917. We included the two women’s professional team titles, too.


Year Champion League Sport Team defeated
2014  Seattle Seahawks  NFL  Football  Denver Broncos
  • Super Bowl (Feb 2): Seattle 43, Denver 8
2010  Seattle Storm  WNBA  Basketball  Atlanta Dream
  • Game 1 (Sep 12): Seattle 79, Atlanta 77
  • Game 2 (Sep 14): Seattle 87, Atlanta 84
  • Game 3 (Sep 16): Seattle 87. Atlanta 84
2004  Seattle Storm  WNBA  Basketball  Connecticut Sun
  • Game 1 (Oct 8): Connecticut 68, Seattle 64
  • Game 2 (Oct 10): Seattle 67, Connecticut 65
  • Game 3 (Oct 12): Seattle 74, Connecticut 60
1979  Seattle SuperSonics  NBA  Basketball  Washington Bullets
  • Game 1 (May 20): Washington 99, Seattle 97
  • Game 2 (May 24): Seattle 92, Washington 82
  • Game 3 (May 27): Seattle 105, Washington 95
  • Game 4 (May 29): Seattle 114, Washington 112
  • Game 5 (Jun 1): Seattle 97, Washington 93
1917  Seattle Metropolitans  NHL  Hockey  Montreal Canadiens
  • Game 1 (Mar 17): Montreal 8, Seattle 4
  • Game 2 (Mar 20): Seattle 6, Montreal 1
  • Game 3 (Mar 23): Seattle 4, Montreal 1
  • Game 4 (Mar 26): Seattle 9, Montreal 1

SEE ALSO: Pete Carroll Joins an Elite Coaches Club