Work on the Fremont Cut portion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal is just getting underway in this June 1911 image. The location of the cut follows the path of Ross Creek, which was the natural outlet of Lake Union. The creek had been widened into a small canal in 1885 by the Lake Washington Improvement Company. The company, formed by lumber mill owner David Denny (1832-1903) and a group of local businessmen, hired Chinese laborers to dig canals between lakes Washington and Union and from Lake Union to Salmon Bay. The flow of water from Lake Union to the canal was controlled by a wooden dam, lock and spillway near the old timber-trestle Fremont Bridge. The Army Corps of Engineers took over construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and locks after federal funding came through in the 1910 River and Harbor Act. A steam shovel is visible in the distance, near the present-day location of the Fremont Bridge.
In today’s image, taken from roughly the same vantage point, the Queen Anne and Fremont sides of the canal are obscured by vegetation. But no structures from the historic image remain, having been removed for the widening of the waterway. The completed Fremont Cut is 5,800 feet long and 270 feet wide, with a 100-foot wide, 30-foot-deep navigable channel down its center.
Historic image courtesy of Washington State Digital Archives