Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mojean (Tarabochia) Netshed

Gig Harbor Netsheds
(The Largest Inventory on the Puget Sound)

Today's visit is our last on this walking tour of the 17 remaining net sheds along the downtown waterfront.  I hope you have enjoyed our walk along the waterfront.

Nine of the net sheds remain working sheds, and today's visit is one of those nine.  This is also the oldest of the net sheds we have visited dating back to 1907.  You will discover how, when you read the Historical Context, that this date was discovered on a timber of the original shed.

But before we go on did you know that you can buy puzzles representing the various Gig Harbor Netsheds in the Harbor History Museum gift shop?  There are both large and small puzzles made by Peter Sibbets exclusively for the Harbor History Museum.  Please check them out!

I have spent considerable time trying to discover the history of the Mojean family that owned and operated this netshed.  Their history is somewhat sketchy and I spent a few hours at the Tacoma Public Library looking them up.  Louis Mojean was a printer and comptroller of the Tacoma Ledger, and he had a home in Gig Harbor; he died March 7, 1951.  His son Richard C. Mojean worked for Skansie Shipbuilding, and Charles R. Mojean, Richard's twin, was a driver for Gig Harbor Stage Co.  Their brother, William O. Mojean was a shipbuilder, and at first their boats were built at this location.  Actually, like so many men, all three boys worked for Skansie Shipbuilding at one time or another. But in 1925-26, William formed a partnership with Olaf Ericson. Olaf arrived from Sweden in 1882 and during WWI he was the superintendent of the Tacoma Seaborne Shipyards. They named the new company Mojean & Ericson and opened a facility at 2128 D Street in Tacoma.

Mojean & Ericson built the following boats: Leota - 1926;  Second Penny - 1929; David N -1930; On Holiday - 1941 - all  recreational; Sinbad for Bill Hendley - 1928 - schooner; Flyer 1928; Alava - 1929; Annette - 1934;  Varsity - 1937 - all fishing boats; Camelia - 1935 - Passenger; Favorite - 1937 - taxi tug; four Minesweepers in 1943; two Minesweeper in 1944 and two in 1945 and two Sub Chasers in 1944.   

Olaf Ericson, superintendent of Mojean & Ericson shipyards, died August 10, 1957 age 83.  William retired from the boatbuilding industry in 1945, and died age 77 on February 16, 1968.  Richard C. Mojean died age 94 on March 5, 1997; he was a master wooden boatbuilder. Charles died age 71  November 4, 1973; he spent  25 years in the taxi business and after WWII opened Mojean Public Float at Pt. Defiance Park which he ran for some 30 years.

Nick Tarabochia Sr. purchased this netshed in 1939 - 1941, and then passed the ownership along to Nick Tarabochia Jr.  There is a long history of the Tarabochia family in Gig Harbor, starting with Rose Ancich Tarabochia.  Rose was Martin and Anna Ancich's daughter and she was, and remains, a loving memory to all who knew her.  Their history is so multi-faceted that we knew an entire blog devoted to the Tarabochia family and their contributions to Gig Harbor is necessary, and you can look forward to that later this year or at the beginning of 2014.   

I want to thank the City of Gig Harbor for allowing me to use material from the Historic   American Engineering Survey on Gig Harbor Net Sheds.  The complete surveys can be located  

The TARABOCHIA (MOJEAN) NETSHED is the seventeenth of 17 netsheds along Gig Harbor’s waterfront and will be the subject of this week’s blog.  A copy of the survey can be accessed at  The survey includes Engineered drawings in Plan and  Profile thanks to funds provided by the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the National Trust.  To view images of the Tarabochia (Mojean) Netshed go to

You can also obtain a copy of a brochure for a self-guided tour of the 17 netsheds from the City of Gig Harbor, the Harbor History Museum, or the Chamber of Commerce or click 

To me and many others, the netsheds of Gig Harbor are a constant reminder of the first major industry here after the white settlers arrived.  It was the Europeans escaping hard times in their homelands that came to Gig Harbor and either took up fishing or continued fishing earning them and their families a livelihood on the water harvesting the bountiful fish in the surrounding waters.  The principle fishermen were Croatians, but there were many Scandinavians as well.

The 'netsheds' were built by the immigrants to provide a place to mend nets, repair their boats, provide a gathering place between fishing seasons and perform other jobs necessary to get their boats ready for the next venture at sea.  Fishing is a full time job otherwise known as "12-month job".  Many men fished the Pacific Ocean waters from the coast of South America to the Bering Sea.

Today's fishermen ranging in age from their 60s (maybe 70s) to their early 20s are still carrying on the traditions and values of their ancestors. Fishing is a living, thriving, industry - young people still enter the fishing profession after completing their education.   Over the past 36 years that I have lived in Gig Harbor I have seen many historic net sheds and fishing families properties disappear.  Some of these historic properties have changed hands and have been adapted to reuse and rebuilt retaining little if any of the original features.  

When you look at the west side of Gig Harbor Bay and you'll find  the 17 netsheds we are identifying in this and the other 16 blogs, you can see the remnants of what was one of the most vibrant working waterfronts on the Puget Sound.

Okay, so now I have encouraged you to check out a few of these structures -  how do you go about it? As I mentioned earlier, the City of Gig Harbor has prepared a brochure for a self-guided tour of all 17 net sheds.  Grab a copy and then decide how you are going to do it. But remember that except for the Skansie and Ancich Brothers netsheds these netsheds are privately owned and you will need permission from the owner to enter unless they are operated as a business enterprise open to the public.

If you have a boat, that is the best way; it allows you to close your eyes and visualize how busy those properties were in their heyday.  But, though not quite as impressive, you can do the same thing walking along Harborview from the old Ferry dock at the mouth of the harbor all the way up to West Shore Marina.  

Thanks for walking with me along the waterfront in Gig Harbor.  

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