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.
Watch this space for information on how to obtain a copy of the book.

Boat Parade!

On July 9 a flotilla of boats and ships will parade from the Ballard Locks into Lake Union in celebration of the centennial of the opening of Ship Canal. The Centennial Boat Parade will roughly re-create the original parade that marked the official opening of the Canal on July 4, 1917. Come on down and see storied vessels such as the S/V Adventuress, the yachts Honey Boy and Glory Be, the Virginia V, the halibut schooner Tondenskjold, and others. We will post the final list of vessels, and additional details, closer to the date.
If you are interested in entering your boat in the parade, find instructions and an application form here.

Art 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

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 records displayed 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. While focusing primarily on the effects of the Ship Canal on the mill industry, it also touches on labor issues and the regional role of Ballard’s mills from the 1890s through United States engagement in World War I.

The exhibit will be 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.

Image: Cedar Mill Cross Section, Series 276, Salmon Bay Waterway Condemnation Survey No. 1255, 1915. King County Archives.

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. Please check the museum’s website for specific days and times.

The exhibit opening reception will take place Saturday, May 20, at 1:00 p.m. All are invited!

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.

Fremont Historical Society Talk – Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal

Jennifer Ott, co-author with David B. Williams of Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal, will share some of the stories they uncovered in their research about the decades of false starts, the political shenanigans, and far-reaching social, economic, and environmental impacts of the canal’s construction and operation. This talk is presented in conjunction with the Fremont Historical Society’s exhibit “From Ross Creek to Ship Canal,” at the Fremont Public Library. (Photo: Fremont Dam Wash-out)

Exhibit Reception: Fremont Public Library

Fremont Historical Society and the Fremont Public Library will host a reception May 13 in conjunction with the display “Creek to Canal, the impact of the Ship Canal on Fremont.” Historical Society members will be available to answer questions and provide information. Light refreshments. Free and open to the public.

Exhibit: From Ross Creek to Ship Canal

Fremont Historical Society presents an exhibit “From Ross Creek to Ship Canal Canal: The impact of the Ship Canal on Fremont” at the Fremont Public Library. The exhibit will run throughout the month of May. A reception will be held on May 13, followed by a talk by historian Jennifer Ott. (Click here for details on the reception or the talk.) Please refer to the Seattle Public Library’s website for library opening hours.

Photo: Fremont Bridge. Courtesy, Valarie Bunn.