Author Talk: Waterway – The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal

Why does a city surrounded by water need another waterway? Find out what drove Seattle’s civic leaders to pursue the dream of a Lake Washington Ship Canal for more than sixty years, and what role it has played in the region’s development over the past century. Historians Jennifer Ott and David B. Williams explore these issues in their new book Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal.

Jennifer Ott will be joining Eastside Heritage Center for to discuss “decades of false starts and political shenanigans – as well as the far-reaching social, economic and environmental impacts – of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.” This program will also introduce Eastside Heritage Center’s social studies curriculum program, “Change Over Time”, that will soon be available online through! The “Change Over Time” curriculum focuses on the how the Lowering of Lake Washington in 1916 affected the Eastside through individuals accounts from Eastside Heritage Center’s collection. The program was developed in partnership with the Bellevue School District for sixth and seventh grade students.

The program will take place at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in the Douglas Fir Community Room.

Book Release — Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal

Why does a city surrounded by water need another waterway? Find out what drove Seattle’s civic leaders to pursue the dream of a Lake Washington Ship Canal for more than 60 years and what role that canal has played in the region’s development over the past century. Historians Jennifer Ott and David Williams, author of Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, explore how industry, transportation, and the very character of the city and surrounding region developed in response to the economic and environmental changes brought about by Seattle’s canal and locks.

Order your copy now here.

Shoreline Historical Museum Exhibit — High and Dry: The Lowering of Lake Washington and its Effects

Through research and photographs, the Shoreline Historical Museum’s exhibit will explore the “before” and “after” of the lowering of Lake Washington, and the effects it had on the local environment and lakefront communities.

N.B. Dates listed below are default. Please check the museum’s website for specific days and times.

Photo SHM #1397 – Bothell Way crosses in front of the Wurdemann and Rion mansions at Lake Forest Park in 1915, before the lowering of Lake Washington. The railroad tracks, barely visible, run along the edge of the Lake.

Boat Parade!

July 4, 1917 marked the official opening of the Ballard Locks. On that day the SS Roosevelt passed through the Locks and led a marine parade of commercial and pleasure craft through the Ship Canal to Lake Union and Lake Washington.

On July 9, 2017, we will commemorate this historic event by re-creating that parade. The historic schooner Adventuress will pass through the locks and lead a marine parade of historic vessels from Salmon Bay into Lake Union as far as Lake Union Park.

10:00 a.m. Activities begin at 10 a.m., leading up to the Adventuress transiting the Locks west to east. The Adventuress, standing in for the SS Roosevelt – the first large ocean-going vessel to transit the Locks west to east – will enter the large lock at approximately 10:15 am.

11:00 a.m. As the Adventuress enters the Ship Canal at the east end of the Locks passage, she will be joined by vessels of all types and sizes, including two – Glory Be and Keewaydin (the former Honey Boy) – that were in the first Locks boat parade. There will be an estimated 50 registered boats in the parade.

12:00 p.m. The parade will end at South Lake Union at approximately noon, where the Adventuress will be moored at the north wall at Lake Union Park. There will be docent historians and printed information at several official viewing spots.

New parade information will be announced via the Facebook event page: Facebook event page

Look for members of the Ballard Historical Society creating a living diorama at the Ballard Locks from 10:00 – 2:00 on parade day! Members will be in costumes that might have been worn 100 years ago.

Viewing spots

Suggested viewing spots for the parade are as follows:

Seattle Parks:
11th Ave NW Street-end park (on the Ballard side of the Ship Canal)
Roanoke St. Mini-Park, 1 E. Roanoke St., peek-a-boo view of Lake Union
Lynn St. Mini-Park, 2291 Fairview Ave E; view of Lake Union between the houseboats
Lake Union Park, south end of Lake Union

Other locations:
Evanston Avenue (one block west of Fremont Ave)
Along the Fremont Cut between the area under the Aurora Bridge west to 2nd NW
Burke-Gilman Trail (various spots); roaming docents
In front of 2 Nickerson on the canal
The Ballard Bridge approaches

Note that Gasworks Park will be closed for a private event (See Jane Run Marathon).

On-street parking is available near most of these locations but we strongly recommend arriving on foot, by public transportation or by bicycle. Most marinas with a view of the Ship Canal or Lake Union have locked gates with entry available only to their tenants, we ask you please respect those.

These events are free and open to the public, all ages welcome.

For more information contact

History Bike Ride

Saddle up! Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Queen Anne Historical Society, the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, Cascade Bike Club and leader Michael Herschensohn are sponsoring a bike ride to parallel the Ship Canal Centennial Boat Parade. Ride starts at ten a.m. at Gasworks Park. Bring a helmet! Pre-registration not required. For more information, visit

“For $2 a Day: Building the Ballard Locks”

Susan Connole of Friends of the Ballard Locks will share stories and photos of how the Locks were built, in honor of the Centennial anniversary, at the Ballard Public Library, Thursday, June 29. Free and open to the public.

Seattle Municipal Archives Online Exhibit: Life on the Cut

The Seattle Municipal Archives has posted an online exhibit of photos called “Life on the Cut,” which features homes and businesses captured between 1974 and 1980 in the neighborhoods whose development was spurred by transportation and trade activities made possible by the canal project. The exhibit also contains examples of maritime activity, as well as snapshots of Old Ballard, Foss Maritime, Norwegian Constitution Day in Ballard, maritime shipyards, and Gas Works Park.

Find the exhibit here.

Exhibit: The Sawmills of Salmon Bay and the Ship Canal

This exhibit features drawings, maps, and other records from the King County Archives, with photographs from the Seattle Municipal Archives. The majority of the materials in the exhibit were created to document the anticipated impact of the raising of the water level along the shore of Salmon Bay. The exhibit offers a glimpse at the workings of early 20th Century sawmills and the life of the workers who ran them. It touches on the history of Ballard’s mills, labor issues of the time, and the impact of the canal on Ballard’s Shingletown.

The exhibit is mounted in the underground pedestrian tunnel between the King County Courthouse and the Administration Building in downtown Seattle, Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note, the pedestrian tunnel is closed on weekends.

An expanded version of the exhibit is now available online.