July 4, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Ballard Locks and of our beloved Fremont Bridge.
On July 4th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, if they last that long, the Fremont Historical Society in cooperation with volunteers from the Queen Anne Historical Society will distribute souvenir cards commemorating the anniversary every time the bridge opens.
For Queen Anne, the Fremont Bridge is one of the most important consequences of the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. We’ll celebrate the centennial of its opening next year on June 15. The Chicago bascule bridge replaced a wooden trestle on which street cars ran from downtown north on pilings and tracks along the shore of Lake Union where Westlake has now been filled in.
These images from the Seattle Municipal Archives are intriguing and fun to explore. They raise a curious chauvinistic question about why this important connection from Queen Anne was called the Fremont Bridge. If the former town was much smaller than Queen Anne and had only been annexed to Seattle in 1891, why is its name and not ours on the bridge and the Fremont Cut as well? The names of the two other bridges that opened in time for the inauguration of the Ship Canal on July 4, 1917 could be a clue. Like our bridge, both the Ballard and the University bridges lead from the well populated parts of the city to the smaller and maybe less important ones on the north side of the bridge. The Montlake Bridge, the last of the bridges to be completed (1925) may undermine that theory. On the other hand, its permanent piers and abutments were finished in 1914 in time for the canal. Only further research will show if the bridge connected the two sides of Montlake or if the name migrated from one side to the other after that bridge opened.
Our canal never saw a mule named Sal; it’s nowhere near 15 miles long; but it sure has low bridges just like the Erie Canal.
Since 1916, Queen Anne folks have been blessed with one of the most alluring landscapes in our city; and since November 19th, 2011 we can walk or ride a bike along the Lake Washington Ship Canal Trail from the Fremont Bridge all the way to Fisherman’s Terminal. The most important feature of this historic promenade — the concrete wall lining the canal — is nearly invisible. On this outing, we’ll begin on the eastern edge of the Fremont Bridge and walk into the setting sun. It is an easy place to find, since a sign slapped up on the underside of the southern end of the bridge marks this spot with the injunction: “Begin Ship Canal Trail.” Before I duck under the bridge, I peer at the north side of the canal where the Bryant Lumber Company had its operation milling logs, and where in September 1919 the first ocean-going ship loaded cargo before passing through the locks on its way to Great Britain. Following the old rail spur that ran to south Lake Union, I am reminded of the bridge’s Chicago connection. …Continue reading “Stroll 1: 100 Years on the Lake Washington Ship Canal”→