Seattle Blog and Recent Site Additions
April 6, 2012
The Historic Ships Wharf
South Lake Union
An aerial view of the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union Park
The Historic Ships Wharf is part of the campus that includes the Lake Union Park, the Center for Wooden Boats, and the Naval Armory building (future home of the Museum of History and Industry). The ships in the Wharf are adjacent to ships at the Center for Wooden Boats.
The Historic Ships Wharf is currently composed of four ships and all of the ships have the designation National Historic Landmark.
- The Tugboat Arthur Foss
- Virginia V (select)
- The Fireboat Duwamish (select)
- The Lightship Swiftsure (select)
The Tugboat Arthur Foss
This is the historic wooden tugboat Arthur Foss. Built in 1889, it is one of the oldest wooden-hulled tugboats in the United States. She provided transportation during the Alaskan Gold Rush and she is the only Alaskan Gold Rush ship that still operates. She was cast in the 1933 MGM movie Tugboat Annie. Her history includes a stint in World War II. Her final commercial activity was with the Foss Maritime Company.
She was donated to the Northwest Seaport in 1970 and was restored by the Northwest Seaport in 2004.
The Arthur Foss is a lovely old vessel with beautifully-weathered wood. Her wood is really photogenic.
Close-up detail of the Arthur Foss
The boat has been declared a National Historic Landmark and a Seattle City Landmark.
The Arthur Foss is open for group tours, an overnight tugboat visit, and tugboat story hours. Please check for details of these various activities on the Northwest Seaport’s web site.
The Virginia V
The Virginia V was built in 1922 and served for many years as a passenger ferry on Puget Sound and on the Columbia River.
You can read about the entire history of the Virginia V at the Virginia V Foundation’s web site. Click here to see her history.
In 1973, the vessel was awarded the National Historic Landmark status. In 1976, The Virginia V was acquired by the Virginia V Foundation to protect and restore this historic boat. She underwent a $6.5 million massive restoration from 1996 to 2002.
Today, the Virginia V is available for private tours, excursions, and weddings.
She is a lovely vessel and her preservation is a notable accomplishment.
The Fireboat Duwamish
Built in 1909, the Duwamish served as a fireboat for 75 years. The Seattle Fire Department retired her in 1985 and she was named a Seattle City Landmark in 1986.
The Duwamish was acquired by the Puget Sound Fireboat Association
She was the world’s most powerful fireboat and was rated at pumping 22,800 gallons per minute or 1.2 tons of water per second. She held this record until 2003.
You can read more about the Duwamish at the Fireboat Association’s web site.
The Lightship Swiftsure
Lightships were built to serve as floating lighthouses for ships and boats plying the waters of the United States coastline. Built in 1904 as lightship number 83, the vessel served under various names and her final duty was on the Pacific Northwest. She was decommissioned in 1960. Her final name was the Swiftsure.
The Northwest Seaport purchased the ship in 1996. She is currently undergoing restoration. When the restoration is complete, she will be open for tours.
You can read about the Swiftsure’s history by clicking here to go to the Northwest Seaport’s web site.
Please click here to go to our Seattle Alphabetical Index.