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THIS PICTURESQUE pioneer snapshot was copied from a family album filled with prints, interpreted with terse captions handwritten on their borders. It reads simply “Salmon Bay, 1887,” a date used on several other photos in the album. If correct, then this is a rare early record of Salmon Bay.

To the inevitable “where on Salmon Bay?” there are two choices: The forested hill across the waterway must be either Queen Anne or the part of the Magnolia headland above where the Salmon Bay channel begins out of Shilshole Bay — near Ray’s Boathouse. Both sites would have required James Lowman, the owner of the photo album and probably both the camera and the sailboat, to reach the bay by sailing from the Seattle waterfront around the Magnolia peninsula. The voyage may well have begun at Yesler’s Wharf, which Lowman managed for his uncle, Henry Yesler.

Jean Sherrard and I chose the Queen Anne site, largely on the evidence of the timber trestle that runs beside the distant shoreline. It was also in 1887 that the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad completed its line from the waterfront north through Interbay to Salmon Bay, then east to Lake Union along Ross Creek, the lake’s outlet below the north end of Queen Anne Hill. In 1887 there may have been some settlers’ docks beside Salmon Bay, but no extended trestles except this one.

On his 89th birthday in 1946, The Seattle Times reported, Lowman spent “several hours . . . reminiscing over a volume containing pictures of Seattle’s pioneer residences. In it is a picture of his home,” a mansion on First Hill. It’s likely the album that Lowman lost himself in was the one uncovered by my friend Michael Maslan, a dealer in vintage photos and posters.

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Perhaps Lowman’s wife, Mary, is sitting in the sailboat.Married in 1889, they lived together for a half-century on First Hill, until Mary’s death in 1939. James died eight years later.

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