THE GALBRAITH Bacon dock, like most others built on the Seattle waterfront after 1900, was positioned at a slant off Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) for two sensible reasons. First, such a dock allowed railroad spurs an easier angle for reaching the aprons to the sides of the wharves. Second, at such a slant the end of a long dock was closer to shore and so did not require unnecessarily long piles to support it.
Having dealt feed on the waterfront since 1891, James Galbraith was the “old-timer” in this partnership. Cecil Bacon, a chemical engineer, arrived in Seattle in 1899. Deep pockets helped him persuade Galbraith to expand business by adding building materials, such as lime and cement, to the established partner’s hay and feed. In 1900, they were the first signature tenants in the Northern Pacific Railroad’s new finger pier No. 3 (now 54) at the foot of Madison Street. The partners prospered and soon added this pier at the foot of Wall Street.
Although I like this photograph for how, with the ship’s splotched sides and askew yards, it upsets our fondness for the picturesque, I don’t know why the Montcalm was tied to the pier; nor do I know which Montcalm it was. Many ships bear the name, probably all for Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who until he was hit with an English musket ball in the Battle of Quebec, was New France’s commander-in-chief during its French and Indian War with the British in the 1750s.
For some clue on the Montcalm’s condition I turned to Scott Rohrer, who’s known hereabouts for his understanding of maritime history. Scott says the crew was scaling and chipping the steel ship’s hull for repainting after an apparently rough voyage.
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The Wall Street pier, about the size of a football field, was replaced in the early 1960s with a big hotel. The Edgewater is perhaps best known for the visiting Beatles, of whom the tale is often told that they fished from their window.
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