The Arthur Foss tugboat is a symbol of the Northwest maritime industry and is believed to be the oldest floating tugboat in the world.

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Sketched June 20, 2017

Last summer I had the opportunity to get an up-close look at the historic Arthur Foss tugboat while it was undergoing restoration in dry dock.

How much do you know about this vessel?

When I first saw it at the Historic Ships Wharf on Lake Union years ago, I thought it was a cute wooden boat. But that’s quite a superficial way to describe a vessel whose working legacy spans three centuries.

Just consider its resume. It towed sailing ships on the Columbia River in the 1890s, transported supply barges to mining camps in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush just before the turn of the century, and served in the Pacific during World War II, just to name a few highlights. Oh, and it provided service during the construction of landmark transportation projects like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Lake Washington floating bridges.

It’s easy to understand why the staff and volunteers of Northwest Seaport, the educational nonprofit that owns the boat, care so much about the Arthur Foss. Executive Director Nathan Howe told me that the Foss is a symbol of the Northwest maritime industry and is believed to be the oldest floating tugboat in the world.

If you’d like to learn more about the Arthur Foss and its recent restoration, project manager Richard Miller will give a presentation 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at Broadmoor Golf Club. You can find more details about the event and ticket information on the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society website.