Repurposing Wawona: Pieces at new exhibit made from ship’s salvaged wood

Jewelry sculpture

Jewelry artists made this piece, titled Travel the Ocean, for an exhibit using wood salvaged from the schooner Wawona.

Earlier this year, I was contacted by Kari Berger of the Seattle Metals Guild, a non-profit arts group with a focus on metalworking. The group was working on an exhibit of jewelry and sculpture made from wood salvaged from the historic schooner Wawona. I published a history of the ship in 2006, three years before she was broken up on Seattle’s Lake Union, 112 years after she was launched in Eureka, Calif.

The Guild will exhibit the pieces at the Northwind Arts Center May 4-29 in Port Townsend, Wash.

I spent several years working on maritime history projects, but none captured my heart quite so much as Wawona. She was launched in 1897 and carried lumber from Puget Sound and Washington coast ports to San Francisco and other California ports until World War I. After the war, fishermen based in Seattle took her to the Bering Sea to fish for cod. Northwest Seaport, the non-profit that once owned Wawona, worked for nearly a half-century to preserve her, but the elements finally won the battle and she was deconstructed in 2009.

Port Townsend’s Northwind Arts Center hosts the exhibit May 4-29, 2017.

Continue reading

Classic Workboat Show 2013

Classic workboats from the Puget Sound region gathered today at the Historic Ships Wharf in Seattle’s Lake Union Park for a show alongside the historic ships permanently berthed at the site. Visitors also got the first public views of the ongoing restoration work aboard Lightship No. 83, also called Swiftsure. The retired NOAA research ship John N. Cobb was also open to the public. The show was organized by Northwest Seaport and supported by Seattle-area maritime businesses and 4Culture, King County’s arts and heritage agency.

New Willapa Seaport Museum Exhibits

The Willapa Seaport Museum in Raymond, Wash., has announced the opening of a new exhibit on southwest Washington maritime history. On June 12, the museum dedicated an exhibit of the rebuilt wheelhouse of the F/V Vanshee. The exhibit honors the still-working boat, current Captain Pers Odegaard, and its long history. The museum itself is something like grandma’s attic; it’s no Smithsonian, but it’s packed with fun and interesting bric-a-brac. The museum also announced an expansion of its exhibit on the Coastal Artillery, a branch of the U.S. Army that defended Washington State in the days before aircraft.

The museum, located near South Bend, Wash., on the Willapa River is a prime example of a community museum which plays a pivotal role in keeping local memories alive and passing them to children and grandchildren. They also play an important role in bringing newcomers up to speed about their new neighborhood and attracting tourists to local businesses. I’ve also viewed them as unsung heroes of the travel and tourism industry. In some small towns, the local community museum is the best, and sometimes the only, attraction around. The museum is listed in the Fyddeye Guide to America’s Maritime History.

What’s your favorite community museum? (Comment below.)

Willapa Seaport Museum

The author Joe Follansbee and his wife Edith at the museum.

Huge Sea Creatures at Museum Exhibit

Megalodon jaw

Megalodon jaw at the American Museum of Natural History

The Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Wash., has welcomed a new traveling exhibit on prehistoric life in the sea. Savage Ancient Seas features more than 14 complete specimens of large prehistoric marine creatures. The exhibit reconstructs the aquatic world of the late Cretaceous period more than 70 million years ago. It is a world of huge carnivorous marine reptiles with double-hinged jaws and teeth in the middle of their palates, gigantic flesh-eating fish big enough to swallow an adult human whole, flying reptiles with three-foot skulls, and the biggest sea turtles to have ever lived.

Many of the specimens are suspended from the museum’s ceiling, while other parts of the exhibit include smaller specimens and hands-on learning stations. Large specimens include the largest aquatic reptile ever discovered, the 45-foot-long Tylosaurus. Other species include Megalodon, the largest of the sharks, and Archelon, a sea turtle whose shell was 17 feet in diameter.

The Harbor History Museum is collaborating with local marine and environmental organization Harbor WildWatch to create special exhibit programs for Savage Ancient Seas. K-12 schools are invited for special tours and hands-on workshops. Lectures, workshops, and youth programming are also available. Savage Ancient Seas is open through July 14, 2013 at the Harbor History Museum, 4121 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, Wash. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Seattle Exhibit on Rec Fishing

CWB at Cama Beach

Cama Beach State Park near Seattle is featured in a new exhibit on recreational fishing.

Recreational fishing is important to Puget Sound’s quality of life, as well as its economy, and Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats has mounted a new exhibit to celebrate its history. The exhibit, titled “Fish On!”, examines a time when resorts, such as Cama Beach on Camano Island in central Puget Sound, and boathouses from Olympia to the San Juan Islands invited men, women, and children to venture on the water with a hand line, spoon, bamboo pole, and rented rowboat.

CWB’s new exhibit, which opens December 29, records the stories, preserves the small watercraft, and shares images of the “glory days” of recreational salmon fishing in the region. The story of the development of Puget Sound communities is told by exploring how people interact with the waterfront.

“Recreational salmon fishing in the early part of the last century was as much a cultural experience as a sport,” said Betsy Davis, CWB executive director. “Businesses, like boathouses, resorts, boats shops and tackle manufactures, that serviced western Washington’s love affair with salmon sportfishing drove local economies and buoyed entire communities.”

The boathouses and resorts phenomenon peaked in the late 1950s. At nearly 200 rental operations, anglers gathered not just to rent boats, but to swap lies, compare fishing rigs, and make friends. Fishing was a social experience. By the mid-1960s private boat ownership, declining fish runs, more stringent regulations and televised sporting events combined to forever change the spirit of recreational salmon fishing in Puget Sound.

The new exhibit includes historic photographs of many well-known Puget Sound resorts and boathouses, the stories of the people who ran and visited them, as well as actual boats that were used at some locations. Resort boats will be available for public rides on Seattle’s Lake Union, others will be on display or undergoing restorations in the CWB floating boat shop.

The exhibit was funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants. CWB currently operates historic cabins at Cama Beach State Park. The exhibit is staged at the CWB Boathouse in Seattle and continues through the fall of 2013.

Source: Center for Wooden Boats