The Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Mills of Salmon Bay
Awaiting an Act of Congress
When in 1908 the Lake Washington Ship Canal Association petitioned the County to collect taxes to fund the completion of the canal and locks, the King County Commissioners at first refused. The authority to collect taxes for the canal was contingent on a guarantee that the federal government did in fact plan to complete and operate the canal, and the County did not have that assurance. Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh argued that as had happened with the Moore bond, County funds could be lost (see excerpt, left) if the assessment were later found to have been unjustified. It wasn’t until 1910 that all parties agreed to proceed.
Top left: Excerpts from letter to County Commissioners dated September 28, 1908. Prosecuting Attorney Opinions, A15-027, Box 3, King County Archives. Above: Washington State Board of Land Commissioners Maps of Seattle and Ballard Tide Lands [first map of set], 1913. Series 332, County Auditor tide and shoreland survey maps, Item 332.13, King County Archives. Below left: Floor plan of the Burke-King Campbell Mill, 1915. Roll 4a, Item 276-13-2, Series 276, Salmon Bay Waterway Condemnation Survey No. 1255, King County Archives. Below right: Clipping from the Seattle Daily Times, February 15, 1910, page 10.
Mill owners object to the locks
Salmon Bay mill owners had long argued for the Ship Canal locks to be located east at the head of the bay, and they loudly objected to the final decision to place the locks to the west, which would result in Salmon Bay’s water level rising. Not only would the mills be flooded, but log booms and vessels would be forced to navigate the locks, slowing operations. And, although in 1898 Salmon Bay property owners had been compensated for planned flooding behind the locks, over the intervening years, the mills had expanded in the to-be-condemned area, making moving structures above the water more costly. Proponents of the lock placement argued for the benefits of creating a freshwater harbor that would allow expanded use by shipbuilding, fishing, and other industries.