Very nice day. Got up late but still feeling sleepy. Puttied up cracks in little boat & quit.
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Thursday, April 24, 2014
I have always been fascinated by the fact that Peter Skansie’s first job in Gig Harbor was at a brickyard on Wollochet Bay and that he rowed back and forth twice a day a distance of 4 miles . He earned $2.50 per day at the brickyard and worked there until it went under. Today that $2.50 would be worth about $65 per day.
And, then there was a bit of miscellaneous information in the Research Files at the Harbor History Museum from Joan Bassett which reads: “(Date unknown definitely but somewhere between 1909 & 1912) Claude Powell and dad (Victor Tomlinson) hauled bricks from the west side brick yard on Fox Island, owned by C. S. Barlow (Descendants later had the Barlow Sand & Gravel in Tacoma). They hauled them in a beach seine boat. Started to sink and they threw bricks over to stay afloat. They then got a wagon at Arletta and carried them to Rosedale where they built the chimney on the Rosedale School.”
So with a little mystery like this, I thought I would do a little investigating and see what I could find out about the brick yard, where it was and who owned it. And maybe learn why there was a brick factory on Fox Island in the first place.
Some time around 15,000 years ago the melting Vashon glacier changed the lands in and around the Puget Sound region. One of those lands happened to be Fox Island which received large deposits of clay, sand and gravel. Perfect materials for use in the building trade, and those clay deposits presented the perfect opportunity for new business ventures for the entrepeneur in the 1800s.
And the brickyard we are hunting for was located on Fox Island; in fact there were two brickyards on Fox Island. Very little is known about the one that existed in 1900 in the vicinity of where 12th Avenue & Kamus Drive intersect. But the better known one was located on what now is known as Brick Kiln Road and it is the one we are going to explore. Its life was longer, having originally been founded on July 13, 1884 (although some records show it was September rather than July) as the Fox Island Brick Manufacturing Company. Its name and its owners changed over the years before it finally closed.
A group of investors got together, formed the new Fox Island Brick Manufacturing Company and purchased approximately 435 acres of land on the southwest end of the island from an Augustus Lowe for about $3.45 per acre or $1,500. This newly formed company started manufacturing bricks, sewer pipe, tiles, chimney pipes, and other clay products. Building materials needed for the growing communities in and around Fox Island. Transportation was provided by scows towed to the final destination in Tacoma or other places on the Gig Harbor peninsula.
In August 1888 new ownership bought the brickyard for $14,000 (today’s $340,000) and changed the name to The Fox Island Clay Works. The new company officers and directors were: W. S. Bowen, president and general manager; J. M. Steele, vice-president; A. R. Zabriskie, secretary; and S. F. Sahm, John M. Steele, I. W. Anderson, Walter S. Bowen and Samuel M. Clark, directors. Capital stock of $50,000* was divided into 500 shares with a par value of $100 each with a maturity time of 50 years. *$1,219,500 in 2014 dollars.
The brickyard and its land contained some of the finest deposits of various clays, and the new owners wanted to convert the plant to more modern production methods. They outfitted the brickyard and structures with the very best and newest machinery available for the manufacture of their various products. Their piping was used by almost all the towns and cities around the Sound as well as in other more distant Washington locations and in Oregon.
They opened an office at the junction of Dock Street and Fifteenth Street in Tacoma, at the head of Commencement Bay. This allowed for an easy receiving location for the shipments via scow from Fox Island, but it was also a convenient location for reshipment to other places. The North Pacific Railroad had tracks which ran through the company’s yard almost to the water’s edge which was a big plus.
Unfortunately the company was a little too aggressive and by 1890 needed additional funds so they took out a mortgage of $30,000 ($731,700 in 2014) from Mason Mortgage Loan Company. In 1893 there was a serious economic depression in the US and unfortunately on December 21, 1894, Mason Mortgage Loan Company foreclosed on the land, buildings, materials, the steamboat “Susie” and other equity. The land was put up for sale in order to pay off the outstanding mortgage.
By 1897 the country was coming out of the depression, and a gentleman named Bleeker seeing an opportunity, acquired the land and restarted the brickyard. Calvin S. Barlow, owner of Tacoma Trading Company bought bricks from Mr. Bleeker and in 1904 loaned him money when he needed additional cash. In 1906 C. S. Barlow decided to take over the brickyard paying Mr. Bleeker $2,900 for it. (Although not stated in the information at hand, the purchase price probably was in addition to any funds not yet paid back for the previous loan. In other words forgave the debt.)
|Tacoma Public Library Image Archives - Advertisement in the 1941 Clover Park High School Yearbook|
The brickyard operations had always been on a “summer yard” basis only with the bricks dried in the open air before being placed in the kilns. Russell Barlow said his father, Calvin S. Barlow, invested $30,000 to build a dryer so the plant could manufacture year round. But, unfortunately concrete was becoming easy to obtain and a more popular material for construction. This resulted in the bottom falling out of the brick manufacturing industry. As a result the plant was closed in about 1910-11.
|Tacoma Public Library Image Archives - Gig Harbor summer of 1926 2 Mack trucks parked at wooded site - Barlow & Sons started 1882 in Tacoma and dealt in building materials including sand, gravel and blasting powder|
Information from Russell Barlow goes on to relate that “there were about five or six buildings on site - superintendent’s house, office & company store, bunk house, cookhouse, shed containing brick machine and of course, the kiln. Around 15 men were employed who manufactured about 10-15,000 bricks per day. Up until this time the clay was transported down the hill from the pit to the plant manual with the aid of a horse. The horse pulled a cart placed on rails up to the pit to be filled, and then the cart coasted under its own power back down the hill to the plant. A man rode on the cart to operate the brake to stop the cart and dump the clay. The horse had already returned to the plant to be ready to pull the empty cart back up the hill.
|Tacoma Public Library Image Archive - Display at Puyallup Fair 1923 - In 1917 the name was changed from Tacoma Trading Company to C. S. Barlow & Sons|
There were no railroad tracks on the property but C. S. Barlow bought additional clay land as it was contemplated the original clay was depleted and, at the same time purchased the tidelands with the intent to build tracks on the beach to reach the deposits. Unfortunately, the business was closed at this site before the improvements were made.
Although Calvin S. Barlow was born in Cowlitz County, WA in 1856 and died in Tacoma, WA in 1920, he and his sons did play a part in the history of Fox Island through their ownership of the brickyard there. So it is only right that I share a little of his information that I discovered in the search of brickyard history.
|Tacoma Public Library Image Archive - Family picnic held at Russell Barlow's home in 1948; Russell is believed to be 2nd from left|
Calvin moved to Tacoma in 1879 and became a leading citizen not only of Tacoma but also of the state. He became a member of the Tacoma city council in 1884 and in 1897 he served as a member of the Tacoma city charter committee; he also was a member of the WA state board of Visitation for prisons. In 1888 he became a member of the Board of Trustees for Puget Sound University (now University of Puget Sound) and served until 1903. He was also a member of several fraternal organizations, and at the time of his death was survived by his wife, Hertilla LaDu Burr Barlow, daughters Mildred Barlow McIlwraithand and Hertilla Barlow Day and sons George, Allen, Russell and Douglas. He was a member of the First Methodist Church in Tacoma. http://barlowgenealogy.com/GeorgeofSandwich/GeorgeBarlow-MaryPurdy.html#cs
- Harbor History Museum Resource Room - Fox Island Files
- Tacoma Public Library Image Archives, Northwest Room
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014
I want to thank all the young students for the review of the Harbor History Museum and their day attending Midway School #79. We need to keep an eye on these young people because it won't be long before many of them are being published in the general media whether it be in writing or art. I am so proud of each and every one of them. All I can say is "Keep up the great work!
Museum Musings Thoughts and reflections from Mrs. Neal’s 4th graders - Continued
Wedding Dresses by Isabelle Johnson
Beautiful wedding dresses line up in the church gallery. On a wedding dress there are lacy flowers that go to the west. Another dress is shiny white. There were four wedding dresses. For the kids going to the adult’s wedding the girls would wear white little dresses. There were no boys clothes on display. The ladies getting married wear pretty shoes too. They wear little white shoes with flowers on the top. As my friends and I walked through the gallery the wedding dresses definitely caught our eyes.
By Sophie Jangaro (?)
The clothes you wore to school were very interesting. Mo…. girls wore a colorful skirt, an apron, a bonet and a white blows. All the boys wore a white or gray sh… with tall white knee soxs. The school mark wore a black skirt, a gray and black lacy shirt. It was hard to find all of the cloths for most people but it was easy for me. I got all the stuff from friends. It was fun to see every one dress up.
Dressing up was super fun. I wish we could do it again.
Songs by Zoe Woinell
One of my favorite songs was My Bonnie went over the ocean. I loved the part when you put your hands up when you herd the B in Bonnie or any other word starting with B. It was funny puting your hands up, but also very difficult going the same time as the beat. Every time the school mark sang the song she went faster until you could not do it any more. The singing was very fun to me.
The Midway School was moved from its organle spot. So people could see the school. But in the prossces they had to take it apart before they moved it. They moved it on a big house truck all the way to the museum. How people role play like they were in 1901.
We had so much fun at the Midway School House sat the Harbor History Museum. The inside of the schoolhouse was very interesting. On the inside there is a chalkboard, a board with the Pledge of Allegiance a long time ago. We had a chalk board, a notepad, and a McGuffy reader. We has a great time at the Harbor History Musem!
Consequences by Harlic (?)
Back in 1901 the consequences were very striked. If you were talking wile the teacher is talking you will probably get to stand in the corner. If you were rude you would stand with a book on your head. Two other consequences is that you would neal on a bench and put ………
Strict School Marms by Alena
Strict school marks are very strict. They have a serious face all the time and when you get in trouble she will have a really really serious face. So never mess with a strict school marm, but when you are pretending she is nice but askes strict.
|A Strict School Marm and Paddle|
The Round Rock Contest by Nathan Ehler
At the museum we saw this part called the round rock contest. The round rock contest is basically a … contest yo see who’s “rock is the roundest.” The winner wins a lot of money. And they still do the round rock contest. Mabye I could win it this year. Mabye even you!
Tools we used in the school house by …………….
Some of the tools we used in the school house were mini chalk boards witch we had to hold horizontal, but if you turn it the other way you would have a consequence. We also used a writing book with paper and 2 holes and twine wrapped though the wholes. The scholars used the McGuffy reading. I hope you have as fun as I did.
On March 11, 2014 I went on a field trip. We sang songs, played gams, and learned lots of new things, but my favorite thin was lunch. This lunch isn’t just any lunch, it was old school lunch. There were hard boiled eggs, jars of water, jerky and jam. Ooooo that was good food.
|My Favorite Lunch|
By Rocco Romzone
On Nov 7, 1940 the Narrows Bridge collapsed in to the sound. People had to leave their cars and flee off the bridge. Luckily only a dog died. The owner of the dog couldn’t get it out because it turned rabid and tried to bite him. The owner had to leave him. They cal it Galloping Gertle because when the brig was collapsing it looked like a horse galloping. It looked like this.
|Narrows Bridge Collapsing|
Persona by Andrew
I was born in 1892. My mom named me Roy. My mom is a sewer and she also loves to cook and catch fish for us. I have 1 brother and 1 sister. He is 13 years old and he likes to go fishing. His main goal is salmon and golden potac? his name is Finnick. My sister is 11 years old she likes to sew my pants when they are ripped and sometimes sew for fun. Her name is Johnna. My dad is a blacksmith. He likes to hunt animals like hare, deer and wolves. My dad is 46 years old and made the very first tower. I like to go fishing and brings metal for my dad so he can build things for my school. I am 9 years old and I’m Master Roy.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Today’s blog is being brought to you by, as stated above, Mrs. Neal’s 4th graders. These students had the wonderful opportunity to spend a class day at the pioneer school conducted in Midway School, School District No. 79, currently located at the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Washington. I think you will be amazed at the work of these 4th graders, and the following is taken from their class newspaper.
So here we go! (Please forget me, but I will capitalize the titles of the various entries.)
ROUND ROCK CONTEST by Gabe Marsh
My class went to the Harbor History Museum. Before we left the museum we were in the gallery. I was just walking along, minding my own business and I saw the one and only Round Rock Contest. Those rocks were so round that I could use it as a bowling ball. I never knew that rocks could be so round. What’s cool about this is that they still do this today. So go try to find a round rock and maybe you’ll win the cash prize.
|St. Nicholas Catholic Church|
Mrs. Neal’s fourth grade class just went to the Harbor History museum. We saw the church gallery. In it they had clothes, pictures, and things from almost all the churches in Gig Harbor. There was a lot from my church. My church is St. Nicholas Catholic Church. Things they had were an old metal cross from 1914, the first baptism dress worn by the first child to ever be baptized there, and more. So if you want to see the church gallery, hurry up because they change exhibits every few months.
DONKEY CREEK by London (?)
On March 11 we went to Midway School house and went on a walk at Donkey Creek. When we walked there we learned about how Donkey Creek was farmed, and what happened to it in the older days. I learned that the Indians did special dances to bring the salmon back and the salmon came back! I also learned that they let the salmon to stay there and rot to make good soil. I’m so glad we went to Midway school house!
THE 5-FINGER LESSON by Paige Gladstone
On thing we did at the Midway School House was the 5-finger lesson. Everybody got a writing booklet and traced their hand. We wrote honesty, truthfulness, punctuality, cleanliness, and kindness. It was alot of fun! We had to be all of those things at school and as well at home. The school mark wanted us to memorize those important words. I will always remember the 5-finger lesson!
PLEADGE OF ALLEGIANCE by Sydney Rae
When we went to the Harbor History museum one of the first things we did was the 1901 pledge of allegiance by Francis Bellam in 1855. Then in 1931 that pledge ended because Hittler did almost the exacte movements. Here is how you do it. First you pick someone to hold the flag. Then they stand on the eage of stage with their left hand holding the flag. All the scalars (class) stands up on the right side of our desks. We put our right hand a little over our right eye. We say “I pledge allegiance to my flag.” When you say flag you put your right hand in front of your body with your palm up. You keep your hand like that for the rest of the pledge which is “And the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, liberty and justice for all.”
(MATH) ARITHMETIC by Gwen Anderson
One of my favorite things that I did at the schoolhouse was math (arithmetic). Math at the school house was very interesting because of the way they wrote the equation problems. The way they wrote them was with no symbol on the left side of the numbers like this:
There is no symbol so you can tell whether you are multiplying or dividing or whatever kind of equation you are solving.
On March 11 we went to the Midway school house. I liked a lot of things at the Midway school house because we call it Midway for short. The best thing I liked about Midway is the cursive writing. Cursive writing because we got to learn to write 3 words. Each person had to write 3 words in cursive because we learned how to write 3 leters in cursive l, a, i and t. So that is all we learned about cursive. BY: T.T
STRICT SCHOOL MARMS
Can you guess what the teachers were like in 1901. Well they were some strict teachers. If you didn’t do exactly what the school mark told you to do you would get a consequence. They’re strict, but if you do exactly what the school mark said to do you might end up being the school marks best helper. I hope I can visit someday again.
TAXON INDIAN LANUGAUGE
On March 11, 2014 Mrs. Neal’s class went to the Harbor History Museum. There was a really cool …station bvise. Now I can almost say dollar in Indian. There was so many words from a to z. I was glad to go there and learn about Indian language.
ENTERING THE SCHOOL by Ella Barrett
My favorite part at the Harbor History Museum was entering the school house. We had to stand in two different lines. One line for girls and the other one for boys. Then you had to hold your hand out so they could make sure your hands were not dirty. As soon as you entered the school house she’d assigned sets. Entering the school house is really fun.
I really like that they make the museum fun by adding games and activities to the boring parts of the museum. My favorite acidity was I spy the artifacts. There was this big room full of artifacts. Then you get an I spy paper and pencil. You were supposed to check off the artifacts you find until you were finished. By Will
SONGS by Payton Danosky
The Harbor History Museum had many interesting things. My favorite part was singing the songs. I liked it when we kept adding on to the song, she is coming around the mountain, here she comes TOOT, TOOT, She is coming with six white horses, WHOAH BACK! TOOT TOOT. The songs at the Midway school house were really sun!
TO BE CONTINUED
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Thursday, April 3, 2014
I want to give a shoutout to Pierce County Public Works Record Department. They spent considerable time helping me try to discover more information on Gustav (Gus) Carlson. They also allowed me to visit their office and look through the files they had on the Pt. Fosdick-Gig Harbor County Road and the ferry dock and landing constructed at Pt. Fosdick.
Friday, June 8, 2012, Linda McCowen published a blog entitled “Pt. Fosdick Ferry Landing Opens, June 8, 1928. It’s a very interesting blog and I thought that I might expand upon it somewhat. I’ll discuss not only the Point Fosdick ferry landing but also upon one family whose head of household lost his life during the construction of the ferry landing.
However I do want to ask your help in solving a mystery I encounter while doing research on this family. It is most rare that you will find two families who not only share the same surname but also the same first names of the family members, but also of their spouses and children. And the two families located in the same general vicinity. But that is what has happened to me.
But let’s start at the beginning, and as we go along I explain what I found confusing.
Gustav (Gus) Carlson was born in Sweden in 1864. He immigrated to the United States in 1885 and went to Burlington, Iowa where his sister was living. Gus decided to move on, first to North Dakota where he met his future wife, Anna Matilda Munson, another Swedish immigrant. Anna left North Dakota for Tacoma, Washington. Gus followed here there, and they were married in 1890. They had six children: (Carl) Oscar, Elvira (Elve), Lillian, Leonard in Tacoma, and Helen and Margaret following their move to Cromwell located in Pierce County as cross Puget Sound. Unfortunately, like many others Lillian and Helen both lost their lives during the 1918 flu epidemic. Helen was only 13 and died on Christmas Eve; Lillian was 23 and died on New Year’s Eve.
They moved to East Cromwell when Gus purchased 10 acres there for $750 which included 1200 feet of beach frontage. A little later he purchased an additional 8 acres. The family farm produced cherries, strawberries, tomatoes, and other fruit and vegetables for the Tacoma market, as well for their own family use. Oscar (born 1892) rowed across the Sound to Tacoma delivering the produce standing at the bow of the bow and rowing with a single paddle. Sometimes his sister Elve would go with him. Fog is not unusual on the waters of Puget Sound and the surrounding waters. On one of these occasions the fog was so heavy it was hard to see the shore. So Elve jumped out as soon as they spotted the land and, with a rope tied onto the boat, walked along the shore while Oscar rowed until they reach home.
Gus helped build the Cromwell Grade School in 1902. Gus also worked on the road works projects building roads around Cromwell and Wollochet Peninsula areas as road foreman. And Oscar worked with him on some of the projects between 1909 and 1912. Solely with horse power, the road crews removed stumps, scraped mud, spread gravel and build bridges through the forest.
In 1920 Gus deeded 60 feet of his East Cromwell waterfront property to Pierce County so a ferry landing could be build, although that didn’t happen until 1928. And when Pierce County decided to build the Pt. Fosdick ferry landing Gus was foreman on that project too and Oscar worked along side him. Unfortunately, Gus died tragically in 1927 while the ferry landing was being constructed. He was killed instantly when a piling attached to a crane stuck him in the head.
Anna, his wife, remained in Cromwell keeping up the farm and farmhouse, repairing various farm buildings, and even building a cottage that she sometimes rented out.
On October 28, 1927 a 4 1/2 mile long gravelled road was completed between Point Fosdick and Gig Harbor; the road was also extended to Bremerton, Washington in Kitsap County.
According to the news releases on the completion of the new Pt. Fosdick ferry landing it was a first class dock in every respect. Direct ferry service to Sixth Avenue in Tacoma took only 8 minutes; but once stops were added for East Cromwell and Fox Island the trip was an additional 2 minutes, or 10 minutes total.
In a 1929 advertisement for the ferry system operated by Washington Navigation Company the following information appeared.
Regular schedule are maintained on thee routes…..
Point Fosdick-Sixth Avenue. A short quick ferry route to Hood Canal and Peninsula highways.
Point Fosdick always has good fishing. There are boats and cabins to rent, an extensive campground. A pebbly beach appeals to young and old - picnic here some time.
NOTE: Practically continous ferry service is rendered between Tacoma (Sixth Avenue or Pt. Defiance) and the Olympic Peninsula (Point Fosdick or Gig Harbor). If ferry is not at dock consult ferry schedule to see if there is a ferry leaving from another dock namely on the Tacoma side - Sixth Avenue or Pt. Defiance; on the Peninsula side - Point Fosdick or Gig Harbor, Fox Island-Sixth Avnue. On Fox Island and around East Cromwell are summer homes that offer all the quiet beauty of outdoors a short distance from Tacoma, good roads and trails abound and intrigue you into fascinating woodland that opens on cool beaches everywhere..
Now, what was it I need you help on? I was looking on the internet, in the records at the Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room, and on Ancestry.com for additional information on Gustav Carlson’s death, on his son, Oscar, and other family members.
I found Gus. A. Carlson, obituary date 12 November 1927 whose wife was Anna Matilda, 2 sons, 1 daughter but this Gus Carlson lived in Wilkenson, WA and was a merchant. I found several Gustav Carlson born 1864, Tacoma, married to Anna Matilda, but not the right ones. I found Carl Oscar Carlson, same name of his wife, his parents, etc. but died in 1964 where our Oscar celebrated his 100th birthday on October 14, 1992 according to a birthday notice in The Morning News Tribune, Tacoma, Wednesday Food/Family Section Page 6.
Some of the information found in the Pierce County DPW Records included the following:
- Pierce County requested permission to build the ferry landing on Hales Passage at Pt. Fosdick about 5 miles west of Tacoma on October 28, 1927. On December 31, 1930, permission was given by the Engineering Office, Northern Pacific Division in Portland on behalf the Secretary of War.
- The dock had to be extended 45 ft. due to the Ferry Defiance drawing 3 ft more water than the Ferry Wollochet; cost $451.40
- McHugh & Johnson were awarded the contract for the Pt. Fosdick-Gig Harbor County road designated as Permanent Highway 27 on April 12, 1927
- P. J. Henson & Son entered into a contract with Pierce County DPW on January 11, 1928 to build the dock for $3,511.40. The 1927 Road & Bridge Budget had $4,000 included for approach and new ferry landing.
- On June 2, 1931 Pierce County DPW entered into a contract to demolish the first Pt. Fosdick dock adjacent to the new slip and landing place for $500 contract and the posting of a surety bond by contractor for faithful performance of contract.
- It appears that all the residents and business along the route of the new Pt. Fosdick-Gig Harbor County road had to grant x-number feet of Right of Way to Pierce County for the road construction.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
The community is invited to the Gig Harbor Lighthouse 25th Anniversary Celebration at Skansie Brothers Park in downtown Gig Harbor, on Saturday, April 26th from noon to 4pm. As part of the celebration, time capsules currently held in the Lighthouse from 1987, will be retrieved and returned to their owners, opened and displayed. In addition, a new round of time capsules to be placed in the lighthouse, can be purchased and packaged for the next generation to make the twenty-five year stay. The event will feature a photo contest, live music of “Daryl and the Diptones“, educational displays, and fun for the whole family.
This History of the Gig Harbor Sandspit was written by Adele Holmaas Robinette in 1988
The Light on the Sandspit
Gig Harbor’s sandspit...jutting out from the hillside that is fringed with trees...has been the role model for countless photographers and artists who have for many decades captured its beauty on film and palette.
According to the records in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., in 1866 it was included in approximately 600 acres that was disposed of by the Department of the Army, Land Division, which two years later transferred it to the Department of the Interior. It was part of a parcel of land (about 77.8 acres) set aside by an executive order as a military reservation.
Then in April of 1912, a five-year lease was granted to Phil Brautigan and his wife for 10 acres in the northwest corner of this reservation. Only two years later, a lease for the remainder of the reservation was given to Lottie Rowley for $1.00 a year...extended to August 1930 by the Secretary of Commerce, Superintendent of Lighthouses.
It was in 1921 that part of the leased land was put under the control of the Department of Commerce for use of a lighthouse. But it was necessary for the keeper of the lighthouse to go over some private land...there being two or three lots occupied by private parties. In legal terms it was stated “that any lands needed for lighthouses or roadway purposes may be segregated or reserved for such use, and the land so segregated or reserved shall not be subject to disposal hereunder.”
Private parties residing on the sandspit lots tried to forbid the lighthouse keeper from going across their land to care for the lighthouse, “even threatened him with bodily harm” if he persisted in doing so.
The lighthouse reservation as well as the Gig Harbor Military Reservation, was finally abandoned and turned over to the Department of the Interior.
In 1926, Mrs. Rowley succeeded in obtaining some additional land to establish and maintain a camp for tourists and was granted permission for a temporary arrangement but restricted it to “desirable” occupants.
If the sandspit could communicate it would reveal some activities that neighbors will not forget...such as the exploding of fireworks, horses grazing on the sparse foliage, children screaming, adults playing ball, and campers pitching tents...in an area where there were no toilet facilities.
There were other events such as an annual salmon barbecue sponsored by the Tacoma Yacht Club. Literally dozens of sailboats would drop anchor in the cove; the crews and their guests would then paddle ashore in their skiffs or whistle for one of the neighboring teenagers who would “taxi” them back and forth to the sandspit where most of the food was catered.
Adele Holmaas Robinette
NOTE: The City of Gig Harbor maintains the lighthouse and the batteries to power it.
Prologue as Recorded by John Holmaas
1919: The Gig Harbor sandspit, owned by the US Government, is surveyed for a navigation light. Over the years, various navigation lights were erected on the sandpit, including a wood structure.
1960s: Wood structure is replaced with a 10-foot high skeleton of steel angle iron with an orange triangle marker and battery operated red light.
1964: John Holmaas writes the US Coast Guard asking if the existing lighthouse could be replaced with “a more fitting structure” for Gig Harbor. It was approved with considerable conditions. (At that time, there were no privately funded and maintained lighthouses within this Coast Guard district.)
July 1984: US Coast Guard responds to the Holmaas request stating that they are “in principle willing to consider the proposal to construct a lighthouse on Coast Guard property at the entrance to Gig Harbor.” Guidelines are provided in the letter, including no cost to USCG, plans must be approved by USCG, and lease requirements.
1986: Don McCarty is elected Gig Harbor’s mayor, he agrees to support a new lighthouse on the sandspit as long as it “didn’t cost the city.” Irene Widney Hanley agrees to co-chair the Gig Harbor Lighthouse Committee with John Holmaas; Gig Harbor Lighthouse Association is incorporated in December 1986 as a non-profit corporation.
January 1986: City of Gig Harbor Planning Director Don Orr send memo to City Administrator Mike Wilson listing the three agencies to review the proposed lighthouse, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Ecology, and Pierce County Planning Department.
July 1986: Residents around the sandspit send petition to Pierce County Planning Department and to local, state, and federal government agencies outlining their concerns of the proposed lighthouse.
July 1986: One of the proposed designs is submitted by Mark Hutchins, a structure standing at about 22-feet high from base to tip, with a pergola and “widow’s walk” feature at the top.
August 1986: Committee members meet with US Coast Guard representatives. At the meeting, the lighthouse plan created by Steve Sparks is presented. Discussions involve: level of light brightness, class distinction, liability insurance, height of light, use of solar, responsibility for repairs and replacement, and regulations.
1987: Campaign begins in full, focusing on fundraising, publicity, public information meetings, structure design, permit research, construction, and installation requirements.
March 7, 1987: Lighthouse fundraiser “A Day in the Life of Gig Harbor (Gig Harbor/Key Peninsulas)” is held this date soliciting photographs from around the peninsula. Entrants pay $6.50 to enter and are instructed to photograph a “slice of Peninsula life” on March 7 only. Images best representing the area life are used to promote the lighthouse campaign. Major fundraising project is the sale of time capsules to go into the lighthouse at the dedication. Fourteen-inch long capsules are available for purchase from small (2-inch diameter) to extra large (8-inch diameter). Opening of time capsules will be 25 years from the lighthouse dedication. Participants can then retrieve their capsule. Unclaimed capsules will go to the historical society.
March 1987: Editorial cartoon by Don Snowden about the lighthouse is published in The Peninsula Gateway.
April 1987: Commander Parsons of the 13th Coast Guard District, Seattle, receives letter from Pierce County Planning Division stating that the project is exempt from Shoreline Substantial Development Permit requirements. But they did note their concerns regarding the consistency of the project with the intent of the Shoreline Management Act and the local program. The letter stated that “The lighthouse may be inconsistent with the Natural Environment because it is of a greater scale than is appropriate. Furthermore, the 35-square feet concrete sign appears to be inappropriate and inconsistent with the Natural Environment.
May 1987: Pierce County Councilman Paul Cyr sends letter to the Coast Guard commander requesting meeting between Lighthouse Association and Coast Guard representatives to “settle any and all apparent discrepancies with respect to this project. Clearly, the intent and design of the Lighthouse project is to provide the best in terms of a “community betterment” project and an improved navigational aid for approaching boats.
June 1988: Coast Guard signs lease.
October 21, 1988: Installation begins Manson Contracting picks up the lighthouse from Gig Harbor Marina. John Holmaas prepares the shallow foundation which consists of three 35-foot long steel pilings driven into the sandpit for the foundation and two shorter pilings for the “Welcome to Gig Harbor” sign.
April 29, 1989: Dedication during Gig Harbor’s “Centennial Week” the lighthouse time capsules are installed and the lighthouse official dedicated. Celebrations include a marine parade. (The Centennial celebrated Washington Statehood.)
October 21, 1999: The 10th Anniversary of the lighthouse is celebrated at the Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society Museum.
With committee driven projects there are widely varying opinions. Some committee members wanted to see a 35-foot tall lighthouse rather than a smaller scale structure. The design committee met for months developing the present design. Architect Steve Sparks and designer Mary Smith provided the final renderings.
The original design for construction:
⁃ The foundation is treated piling driven under supervision of geologists, capped with concrete. The cap will contain metal fasteners to connect the foundation structure to the stem, or body, of the lighthouse.
⁃ The stem is pre-cast reinforced concrete, approximately 9-feet in diameter at the base and 5-6 feet at the top in a hexagon shape. The height is 3-14 feet to accommodate the light at 15-feet.
⁃ The stem is divided into 2 compartments. One is for the storage of the battery, ladder and other operating equipment and supplies; the other is for time capsules.
⁃ Two heavy metal locking doors seal the compartments.
⁃ The windows are black marble, set into the pre-cast structure.
⁃ Cost: $40,000 to construct; $10,000 to $15,000 for a maintenance trust fund.
The 1986 Lighthouse Committee:
The lighthouse project was funded by a variety of community interests and contributors. In addition to financial contributions, there were numerous contributors of time, effort and skills. A partial list includes:
Irene Widney Hanley, Co-Chair GH Lighthouse Association
John Holmaas, Co-Chair GH Lighthouse Association
Tom Morris Sr., Project Support
Jim & Stormy Matthews, Project Support
Bruce & Raelene Rogers, Project Support
Steve Sparks, Architect
Wade Perrow, Contractor
Ken Tepley, Construction Foreman
Mary Smith, Artist
Carole Holmaas, Chair Finance Committee
Al Bissette, Engineer
Donna Roper Tait, Legal Counsel
Don McCarty, Mayor of Gig Harbor
Glen Henderson, Sealand Industry, Lightinh
Steve Stambaugh, Steelworker
Bob Hall, Time Capsules, Video
Tom Taylor, The Peninsula Gateway, Publicity & Fundraising
Renee Crist, “Day in the Life” Photography Contest
Harry Mashburn, Construction
Gig Harbor Marina, Construction Off-Site
Peter Haug, Manson Construction, Installation