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Ship Isabel docks at Tacoma with first tea cargo from Asia bound for East Coast via railroad on August 16, 1885.
On August 16, 1885, the Isabel
docks at Tacoma with the first cargo of tea from Asia bound for the East Coast via railroad. The Northern Pacific had gathered 200 cars at the Tacoma docks ready to load 2,000 tons of tea. The train sets out for the East Coast as an express, intending to reach New York in just over one week (the trip takes a month). Before this, the majority of ships bearing tea cargo traveled around Asia to the Suez Canal and then across the Atlantic to the United States or around Cape Horn to the East Coast. This required extra time, and the British charged fees for passage through the Suez Canal, but either route was still less expensive than shipping via railroad across North America. In 1885 the Northern Pacific lowered its rates in a bid to compete with the ocean-going routes of the tea trade. Tacoma is well-placed to benefit from the plan because it is the terminus of the Northern Pacific and is relatively close to Asian ports.
File 8752: Full Text >
Longshoremen strike the Tacoma Mill Company on March 22, 1886.
On March 22, 1886, longshoremen on the Tacoma waterfront cease loading lumber onto ships, and demand a 10-cent-an-hour raise. The strike continues for five days while employers attempt but fail to hire strikebreakers. The strikers win their raise and go back to work as members of a new union, the Stevedores, Longshoremen and Riggers' Union of Puget Sound.
File 5064: Full Text >
Schooner Oscar and Hattie arrives at the port of Tacoma with 50,000 pounds of halibut, inaugurating the commercial Pacific halibut fishery, on September 20, 1888.
On September 20, 1888, the schooner Oscar and Hattie
reaches the port of Tacoma with 50,000 pounds of halibut on ice. The iced halibut is shipped from Tacoma to Boston on the Northern Pacific's transcontinental rail line, marking the beginning of commercial halibut fishing in the Pacific Northwest. With North Atlantic halibut stocks depleted, the Oscar and Hattie
is one of three halibut schooners from Gloucester, Massachusetts, sent around Cape Horn to fish the rich halibut grounds on Flattery Bank off the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. From this three-vessel beginning in 1888, the Pacific halibut fleet will grow rapidly, resulting in a rapid decline in Pacific halibut stocks. The halibut industry will respond by pushing for a United States-Canada treaty that leads to creation of the International Pacific Halibut Commission to regulate and restore the Pacific halibut fishery, which is currently (2008) among the healthiest fisheries in the world.
File 8745: Full Text >
Thea Foss launches the future tugboat firm on the Tacoma waterfront in the summer of 1889.
In the summer of 1889, Thea Foss (1857-1927), a recent immigrant and new bride from Norway, buys the rowboat that launches the Foss Launch Company. Sitting on the porch of her houseboat on the Tacoma waterfront, she purchases the boat for five dollars from a fuming, disgruntled, failed fisherman. Thea's husband Andrew Foss, a carpenter, is up in the valley building a shed at the time. Before long, Thea sells this rowboat for $15 and buys two more boats from two more discouraged fishermen. Thea begins renting the boats for 50 cents a day. By the time Andrew returns from his shed-building job with $32, Thea has amassed $41. Thus begins what will grow to become the Foss Launch and Tug Company and then Foss Maritime, one of the largest tugboat and marine services firms on the West Coast.
File 5045: Full Text >
Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle celebrates Japanese Navy Day on June 4, 1909.
On June 4, 1909, officers and cadets of the Japanese Navy cruisers Aso
take part in Japanese Navy Day at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (A-Y-P) Exposition. The exposition took place on the University of Washington campus in Seattle between June 1 and October 16, 1909. More than three million visitors came from around the state, the nation, and the world to view hundreds of exhibits, stroll the lushly manicured grounds, and be entertained on the Pay Streak midway, while Seattle promoted itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia. Each day of the A-Y-P (except Sundays) was designated as a Special Day for one or more groups. Special Days drew people involved in the featured organizations, and the resulting programs, lectures, ceremonies, parades, and athletic competitions gave local people a reason to visit again and again. On Japanese Navy Day, hundreds of Japanese sailors toured the A-Y-P grounds, their presence drawing crowds of local Japanese residents to the exposition. A 38-piece band of cadets gave a concert in the bandstand in Nome Circle, and Japanese Navy participation in the fair extended into the next day. The Japanese squadron stayed in Puget Sound harbors from May 24 to June 12, greeted by ships from the U.S. Pacific Fleet squadron and hosted by the Tacoma and Seattle chambers of commerce, state and local officials, and the local citizenry.
File 8680: Full Text >
Tacoma unveils the Bogue Plan for Tacoma Harbor on January 29, 1912.
On January 29, 1912, the Tacoma Commercial Club & Chamber of Commerce unveils a plan for the Tacoma harbor prepared by engineer Virgil G. Bogue (1846-1916). The plan lays out a development plan for the entire waterfront. In 1912, it has become glaringly obvious that a plan is needed to develop the part of the waterfront not controlled by the Northern Pacific Railroad, primarily the area east of the Puyallup River. Numerous private landowners, many of whom managed to wrest the land away from Puyallup tribal landowners in the late 1890s, have filed plats for their parcels in recent years, creating a disorganized and ineffective ad hoc development plan. Bogue's plan proposes the development of three waterways, an industrial district, and a motor boat and yacht harbor, along with the creation of a port-improvement district, through which the plan can be carried out and landowners taxed for their portion of the estimated $3.8 million cost. Local landowners reject the plan because they perceive that some individual landowners will benefit more than others. The harbor will continue to develop according to the abilities and plans of individuals and businesses until 1918, when the public Port of Tacoma is formed.
File 8751: Full Text >
Halibut fishermen in Seattle and Tacoma strike during November 1912.
During November 1912 all of the halibut fishermen sailing out of Seattle and Tacoma strike for an increase in price paid for halibut from 1 cent a pound to 1.5 cents per pound.
File 1097: Full Text >
Tacoma's Eleventh Street (City Waterway) Bridge opens on February 15, 1913.
On February 15, 1913, Tacoma's Eleventh Street Bridge spanning the City Waterway opens. A crowd of some 10,000 Tacomans celebrates the opening of the steel-truss, vertical lift bridge with speeches, a champagne christianing, and a shower of red carnations flung from the upper railing. From an engineering point of view, the Eleventh Street Bridge (in 1997 renamed the Murray Morgan Bridge) is remarkable in three ways. It is built on a grade, its deck is unusually high for a vertical lift bridge, and it features an overhead span for carrying a waterpipe. The bridge is an essential infrastructural link between the commercial downtown Tacoma and the industrial tideflats.
File 5543: Full Text >
Pierce County voters create Port of Tacoma on November 5, 1918.
On November 5, 1918, voters in Pierce County create a municipally owned Port of Tacoma. The vote -- 15,054 in favor, 3,429 against - passes by a 5 to 1 margin. Until the vote, the Tacoma waterfront was privately owned by railroads (especially the Milwaukee Road) and by such firms as Todd Shipyards and the St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Co. Two municipally owned docks were the only public property on the extensive waterfront of Commencement Bay.
File 5077: Full Text >
Development plan for Port of Tacoma is approved on May 31, 1919.
On May 31, 1919, Pierce County voters approve the "comprehensive scheme" of development prepared for the newly formed Port of Tacoma by consulting engineer Frank J. Walsh. The Port, which was created in a November 1918 vote, will inaugurate shipping at its first pier on March 25, 1921. Over the next nine decades, the Port of Tacoma will become a leading container port, serving as a "Pacific Gateway" for trade between Asia and the central and eastern United States as well as the Northwest, and handling most of the maritime commerce between Alaska and the lower 48 states. With ample room to expand on the tideflats fronting the deep waters of Commencement Bay, the Port will develop multiple waterways accommodating the largest ocean-going cargo ships and will create efficient intermodal transportation connections between ships and road or rail, often right on the dock.
File 9759: Full Text >
The first ship calls at Port of Tacoma on March 25, 1921.
On March 25, 1921, the steamship Edmore
arrives at Port of Tacoma's newly constructed Pier 1 to load the first cargo to be shipped from the Port. The Port's formal entry into commercial shipping comes a year to the day after construction began on Pier 1, and less than three years after voters created the Port. Members of International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Locals 38-3 and 38-30 work around the clock to load 600,000 board feet of lumber in record-setting time. Twenty-four hours after it arrives, the Edmore
is fully loaded and sets sail for Yokohama, Japan.
File 8462: Full Text >
Grain loading begins at the Port of Tacoma's new grain elevator on August 11, 1930.
On August 11, 1930, the grain elevator at the Port of Tacoma's new United Grain Terminal begins service. The publicly owned and funded grain elevator, which was proposed by Port Commissioner G. E. Ledbetter, has a capacity of 450,000 bushels and a 600-foot-long, railroad-tracked pier. The new grain terminal allows the Port of Tacoma to compete effectively with Portland, Oregon, for grain shipments from Eastern Washington and Oregon and from the Midwest.
File 8466: Full Text >
Port of Tacoma sees launch of Todd Shipyards' freighter Cape Alava on August 3, 1940.
On August 3, 1940, the Todd Shipyards Corporation launches the C-1 freighter Cape Alava
from the company's Port of Tacoma shipyard on the Blair Waterway. It is the first ship built at the Todd Tacoma yard since the facility was shuttered in 1925 following a decline in shipbuilding after World War I. Leading up to World War II, demand for shipbuilding increases, and Todd rebuilds and reopens its Tacoma yard in 1940, operated by a subsidiary first named the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation and then Todd-Pacific Shipyards Inc. Over the next six years, Todd's Tacoma yard employs 33,000 men and women and builds scores of ships, the vast majority for the war effort. But in a repeat of Todd's 1920s experience, the company's shipbuilding prospects shrink following the war. The company ends its Port of Tacoma operations for good in 1946, swapping its shipyard to the U.S. Navy for land adjacent to the company's Seattle ship-repair plant on Harbor Island.
File 8734: Full Text >
Tacoma Local 23 of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union is chartered on January 7, 1958.
On January 7, 1958, International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) vice president Germain Bulcke installs the charter of ILWU Local 23 representing Port of Tacoma longshore workers. Local 23 is the last major West Coast longshore local to affiliate with the ILWU, which was organized in 1937 by Harry Bridges (1901-1990).
File 8746: Full Text >
Roy Perry becomes general manager of Port of Tacoma on July 1, 1964.
On July 1, 1964, Ernest L. "Roy" Perry (1918-2001) takes over as general manager of Port of Tacoma. Perry, just retired from a 24-year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has been selected by the Port Commissioners in a nationwide search for a leader to expand and modernize the port. He will head the Port of Tacoma for 12 years, during which the once-small port grows to become one of the largest on the West Coast. Perry embraces new technology and mechanization, leading the port into the container shipping age. He also establishes a new, cooperative relationship between port management and the longshore workers' union, which plays a key role in bringing new business to the port.
File 8756: Full Text >
Port of Tacoma's first container crane is completed in late 1970.
In late 1970, the container shipping age begins at the Port of Tacoma as the Port's first container crane is completed and undergoes operational testing. The 242-foot-high Peiner crane, dubbed "Big Red" for its paint job, costs $1.2 million to construct. Large for its era, Big Red is recognized for its ability to handle bulk and general cargo in addition to containers, the large boxes in which most maritime cargo is now shipped. The Peiner crane, later painted blue, will serve the Port's Terminal 7 until it is demolished in 2005 to allow for terminal expansion.
File 8757: Full Text >
Port of Tacoma becomes new home of TOTE shipping line on June 4, 1976.
On June 4, 1976, with the loading of its vessel Great Land
in Tacoma, Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) signals a move of its operations from the Port of Seattle to the Port of Tacoma in order to keep pace with demand for shipping to Alaska. Tacoma's Local 23 of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) agree to training to accommodate the vessel's new "roll on, roll off" technology, and workers accomplish a 14.5-hour loading time their first time around, shorter than the unsatisfactory 18 hours in Seattle. Thus begins TOTE's more than three-decade tenancy at the Port of Tacoma and the Port's growing business with Alaska, which by 2008 reaches 70 percent of all shipping to that state from the continental United States.
File 8735: Full Text >
Port of Tacoma opens the North Intermodal Yard, the first dockside intermodal railyard on the West Coast, on October 13, 1981.
On October 13, 1981, the Port of Tacoma opens the North Intermodal Yard , the first dockside intermodal rail yard on the West Coast. Situated on the main port peninsula between Terminal 7 on the Sitcum Waterway and Terminal 4 on the Blair Waterway, the North Intermodal Yard offers an efficient connecting point between sea, road and rail. The new facility soon elevates the Port of Tacoma to the status of a major West Coast port.
File 8749: Full Text >
Sea-Land begins shipping operations at Port of Tacoma on May 13, 1985.
On May 13, 1985, 60 longshoremen begin unloading 481 containers from the Sea-Land ship Endurance
as the giant shipping line begins operating from Port of Tacoma. In just six hours longshoremen empty the ship and teamsters stack the containers two-high on railroad cars for the journey onward to Chicago and New York. Soon after Sea-Land's debut, a second major shipping line begins business at the Port of Tacoma with the arrival of the Charlotte Maersk
. Sea-Land and the Danish line Maersk, which in 1999 will acquire Sea-Land to form Maersk Sealand, help lead the way as the Port of Tacoma becomes a major container port.
File 8463: Full Text >
Tacoma Municipal Belt Line Railway becomes a tariffed carrier on October 1, 1985.
On October 1, 1985, the Tacoma Municipal Belt Line Railway becomes a tariffed common carrier as its freight switching rates take effect with the Interstate Commerce Commission. Since 1924, the line negotiated fees with each client for moving cars between mainline railroads, industries, and the Port of Tacoma. This move places the line on the same kind of cost-based fee structures that govern interstate carriers and places it on a stable system of revenue.
File 5153: Full Text >
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