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Northern Pacific Railroad track along Commencement Bay, Tacoma, Washington Territory

Northern Pacific Railroad track along Commencement Bay, Tacoma, Washington Territory, circa 1885. Mt. Tacoma (Rainier) and tideflats in background. The railroad tracks were built on fill dirt. The water-filled half-moon section would also be filled in to become the railroad yard, called appropriately the "half-moon yard." KING-008, G76.1-101 (Digital copy only. No print or negative available).

View looking south of the Northern Pacific Railroad track along Commencement Bay, Tacoma, Washington Territory, circa 1885

View looking south of the Northern Pacific Railroad track along Commencement Bay, Tacoma, Washington Territory, circa 1885. Sidewheeler steamship North Pacific at dock. The Northern Pacific wharf lay below today's Stadium Way and would serve, according to historian Murray Morgan, as a "third world between Old Tacoma and New Tacoma." (Morgan: South on the Sound, p. 48-49) KING-001, TPL-018.


Foundation Co., Yard #4, located on the Tacoma Tideflats - Rigger Storage and Water Tank, May 10, 1918. The Riggers Store House measured 32' x 27'6", 14' high, 880 sq. feet and built at a cost of $250. The water tank cost $1241 to build and consisted of a 25' diameter tank 16' high and a 26 x26 platform, 18' high. Due to the fact that most of the machinery was steam driven, an abundance of water was very important.

BOWEN G37.1-161

ca. 1920. Ship under construction or being repaired at Skansie Shipbuilding Co. yard at Gig Harbor, circa 1920. Skansie Brothers was founded in 1912 by four Yugoslavian brothers, Pete, Mitchell, Andrew and Joe Skansie. TPL-688, BU-13900


ca. 1925. ASARCO smokestack and NP tracks coming out of the Nelson Bennett Tunnel to the west of Point Defiance Park. Photograph was taken circa 1925. BU-13881

BOWEN G36.1-210

Tacoma greets movie stars at the Union Depot. A hearty greeting from the City of Tacoma was offered to the actresses and actors appearing in the H.C. Weaver Productions studio film, "Totem Pole Beggar," on March 5, 1926. Shaking hands with star Wanda Hawley, wearing a voluminous fur coat, is believed to be A.D. Bjornstad. Mr. Bjornstad had attended school with Miss Hawley ten years previously and was currently employed as auditor at the Weaver Studios. The couple is flanked by two city policemen on motorcycles; the police officers are dressed for the cold weather with leather boots, gauntlets with long gloves and thick coats. "Totem Pole Beggar," whose title would later be changed to "Eyes of the Totem," would be the second film produced by the H.C. Weaver Productions studio. It would begin filming on March 8, 1926, and open at the Broadway Theatre on June 10, 1927. (TDL 3-6-26, p. 1)

BOWEN G49.1-008

On June 10, 1926, thirteen World War I era wooden warships lay at anchor in one of the shallow inlets of Henderson Bay. The vessels had been built by Seaborn Shipbuilding Co., Wright Shipbuilding Co. and Tacoma Ship Building Co. in Tacoma for the French and intended for service during World War I, but when the war ended, the work was stopped and none of the remaining ships were completed. They previously were moored in Lake Union, Seattle. They were purchased for salvage by Washington Tug and Barge Co. and towed to the mouth of Minter Creek and then out into the inlet at high tide. The cabins and super structure were broken up, doused in kerosene and at 11:45 p.m. would be set on fire. (photograph is damaged (line) upper right corner) TPL-125 (TNT 6/11/1926, pg. 1)

BOWEN G49.1-009

At dawn on June 11, 1926, blackened shells were all that remained of 13 wooden World War I warships anchored in an inlet of Henderson Bay. The ships, built by Seaborn Shipbuilding Co., Wright Shipbuilding Co. and Tacoma Ship Building Co. in Tacoma for the French and incomplete at the end of the war, had been moored in Lake Union in Seattle. After being sold for scrap, they were towed to the mouth of Minter Creek and floated out at high tide to an inlet on Henderson Bay. They were then broken up, doused with kerosene and set on fire. After the controlled blaze burned itself out, iron and other salvageable metals would be collected. TPL-127, Bowen 26393 (TNT 6/11/1926, pg. 1)

BOWEN G49.1-007

Shortly after midnight on June 11, 1926, the one and a half million dollar bonfire of World War I era warships was at its height. During WWI Seaborn Shipbuilding Co., Wright Shipbuilding Co. and Tacoma Ship Building Co. on the Tacoma tideflats had a contract to build 20 3,000-ton five-mast auxiliary schooners for France. When the war ended in 1918 thirteen partially completed ships still rested in the ways of the shipyard. Unfinished, they were towed to Seattle and moored in Lake Union until years later when they were sold for salvage. They were towed to the mouth of Minter Creek which feeds into Henderson Bay and set on fire. From midnight to dawn, a red glow from the fires lit up Tacoma's northwestern sky. When the fire had burned itself out, iron and other metals were collected from the ruins. (TNT 6/11/1926, pg. 1) TPL-126 Information provided by patron: The first few wrecks were burnt at Richmond Beach starting sometime after 1923, some wreckers including Nieman & Marcus continued working there up until the 1930s, while the one in Minter River was used at least twice, 13 ships were burnt in Jun 1926 and 5 ships were burnt in Aug. 1927. As late as 1930, residents complainined about the burning at Henderson Bay, preferring them to revert to Richmond Beach. I believe that the author of the Victoria Daily Times clipping (Victoria Colonist, Victoria B.C. 5/31/1926 p.8) with the ships names has gotten the location wrong, but they all are named as being laid up at Lake Union in 1921. Articles mentioned can be found in the clipping file TACOMA - INDUSTRIES - SHIPBUILDING


On February 3, 1927, T.F. McGettigan, left, test engineer, and his helper E.R. "Red" Randolph, in doorway, pose with the great electric locomotive #5007 that they accompanied from Pittsburgh to Tacoma. The locomotive was constructed for the Great Northern Railroad by Baldwin Locomotive Works and Westinghouse Electric Co. working together. On completion, it was hitched to a through freight train, destination Everett, Wa. Although the engine was not working, it still needed care during the trip and McGettigan and Randolph were assigned that task. Freight trains make few stops and do not usually carry passengers, so the pair packed a ham and 13 dozen eggs and set up a small stove on the engine. They slept on planks suspended over the machinery and endured temperatures of 40 degrees below zero when crossing the Rockies. The behemoth locomotive was on display in Tacoma on February 2 (see G44.1-069) and then proceeded on to Portland, then Everett, where it was placed into service. (TNT 2/3/1927 p.14)


Tacoma photographer Chapin Bowen described Luther "Dad" Sullins as "a real silk salesman" when he took this portrait of Sullins in Wright Park. Silk was a multi-million dollar business on Puget Sound, as well as in Vancouver, B. C., starting around 1913 and still active in 1927. Raw silk from Japan and China arrived on cargo ships. The delicate raw silk bales were immediately transferred to railroad cars pulled by steam locomotives. The silk trains, carrying multi-million dollar cargos and displaying white flags, had the track right-of-way as they traveled at 80-mile-an-hour speeds to New York and eastern mills. BGN 092.

BOWEN G36.1-218C

Director Al Santell and actor Richard Barthelmess flank Al Rockett, First National producer, at a train station in March, 1927. The stars and crew of "The Patent Leather Kid" arrived by special train in Tacoma for filming at Camp (Fort) Lewis where vivid battle scenes would be shot. Mr. Barthelmess would be later nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of a boxer who eventually enlists in the war and engages in the Battle of Argonne. (TNT 3-16-27, p. 1)

BOWEN G36.1-234

Eddie Barry & H.C. Weaver on location of "The Patent Leather Kid," March 15, 1927. Mr. Barry was a visiting First National studio executive. Carrying a portfolio, he appears to be in deep conversation with H.C. Weaver, head of H.C. Weaver Productions, Tacoma's local motion picture studio. Later that summer, Mr. Weaver's third film, "Heart of the Yukon," would be opening at the Rialto Theater. BGN-104

BOWEN G36.1-221

Bursting of shrapnel during filming of "The Patent Leather Kid," on March 15, 1927, at Camp (Fort) Lewis. Trenches were dug and explosives laid before filming of the big battle scenes depicting the "Battle of the Argonne." 27,000 similar shrapnel shells were made and stored at Camp Lewis. Thousands of spectators had the opportunity to watch the filming until further into the war manuevers when it was decided that it was potentially too dangerous. Gravel and rocks were strewn over a wide area when the charges of powder exploded. An assistant powderman for First National studios, Walter Holt, was seriously injured in an explosion when a rock badly fractured his skull. He stayed on the job for half-an-hour to set off the complicated explosives before finally collapsing. (TNT 3-25-27, p. 1, TNT 3-16-27, p.1) BGN-103

BOWEN G36.1-233

Ed Barry and Major John McDonnell on set of First National's "The Patent Leather Kid," Camp (Fort) Lewis, March 21, 1927. Ed Barry was a film executive with the First National studio. He is posed with Major John G. McDonnell, who was the supervisor in charge of technical work from the Army's standpoint. The Army, which supplied the film with thousands of active duty soldiers, wanted to be sure that the film was as accurate as possible regarding munitions and machines. (TNT 3-22-27, p. 1) BGN-107

BOWEN G36.1-226

Adela Rogers St. Johns, on location of "The Patent Leather Kid," March 24, 1927. Striking a relaxed pose, Miss St. Johns wears her helmet tilted as she sits in a director's chair while visiting the filming of "The Patent Leather Kid" at Camp (Fort) Lewis. She wrote the screen adaptation of Rupert Hughes' short story of the same name. Miss St. Johns was a noted journalist and writer who was known for her distinctive, emotional style. A reporter for the Hearst newspapers, she also interviewed celebrated actors for Photoplay magazine, wrote short stories for various periodicals and also wrote many screenplays. She did not restrict herself to a genre but wrote on such varied subjects as the controversial Dempsey-Tunney "long-count" fight, the 1935 Bruno Hauptmann trial, the assassination of Senator Huey Long and the abdication of King Edward VIII of Great Britain. After retiring from newspaper work in 1948, she went on to write books, including her autobiography "Honeycomb," and to teach at a series of universities. Old age did not deter her; she returned to newspaper work at age 82 to report for the San Francisco Examiner on the bank robbery trial of Patricia Hearst. She died at the age of 94 in 1988; she was still working at the time of her death on a book regarding Jesus Christ. (Britannica Online: Women in American History) BGN-163

BOWEN G36.1-230

Filming of the "Battle of Argonne" war scenes of "The Patent Leather Kid," March 24, 1927, at Camp (Fort) Lewis. "German" soldiers charge down a hill, dodging explosives, while others hunker down in trenches. They would soon be overpowered by the superior numbers of American troops and tanks. BGN-111

BOWEN G36.1-222

Battle of Argonne filmed on location at Camp (Fort) Lewis on March 24, 1927. German troops huddle in trenches behind rock and vegetation barriers as they await the charge of American soldiers during the filming of "The Patent Leather Kid." Camp (Fort) Lewis was apparently ideally suited due to its natural resources as a prime substitute for France and thousands of military personnel were made available for use as extras with the permission of the Army. The location of the "Big Drive," scene of the fierce fighting of the Argonne forest, is almost the exact replica of the famous war sector according to Army technical advisers. BGN-113

BOWEN G36.1-218B

Portrait of Al Santell, director of "The Patent Leather Kid," on location at Camp (Fort) Lewis on March 24, 1927. A jaunty beret and Army-issue jacket protect him from the often inclement weather. Mr. Santell was chosen to helm the war drama starring Richard Barthelmess and Molly O'Day. A San Francisco native, he was a comedy writer, set decorator and occasional actor before directing comedy shorts at the age of 20. He subsequently directed a number of silent and sound films of all types. He is perhaps best known for his film adaptations of Maxwell Anderson's "Winterset" (1936) and Eugene O'Neill's "The Hairy Ape." (1944). BGN-116

BOWEN G36.1-223

Crown Prince & German soldier "Battle of Argonne." Arms akimbo and cigarette in hand, the German "Crown Prince" converses with a soldier from the "German" Army during filming of "The Patent Leather Kid" at Camp (Fort) Lewis on March 24, 1927. Even the wooden sign behind them is in the German language. The war scenes filmed were said to be the most vividly real sequences ever made for the camera. Trenches were dug, barb wire strung and fallen trees and other debris were scattered across the war zone. Thousands of extras, mostly Army personnel, were used to depict the sheer magnitude of the bloody battle. 37 Army and National Guard tanks were used as well as 100 army trucks, 15 ambulances and 15 wagon trains. Four batteries of 75 mm guns, two batteries of 155 mm guns, two batteries of 8-inch howitzers were also utilized. BGN-182


Filming of "Battle of Argonne" scenes - "The Patent Leather Kid," March 24, 1927 at Camp (Fort) Lewis. "German" soldiers beat a hasty retreat back to waiting comrades in trenches as their attempt to battle American troops are thwarted by the presence of 27 whippet tanks. Later scenes would show the tanks hurdling German trenches and fierce hand-to-hand fighting .

BOWEN G36.1-215

Arthur Edeson, cameraman, First National Productions' "The Patent Leather Kid," March 29, 1927. Mr. Edeson positions his camera which is mounted on a wheeled cart. He was the director of photography for the film which was lensed on the grounds of Camp (Fort) Lewis. A founder of the A.S.C. (American Society of Cinematographers), he later pioneered location sound photography as the cameraman of "In Old Arizona" (1929). "Stella Dallas,' "All Quiet on the Western Front," " Mutiny on the Bounty ," "They Drive By Night," "Maltese Falcon," and "Casablanca" were just a few of the many films Mr. Edeson worked on. He retired at the age of 58 after a career spanning the silent and sound eras. (Film Encyclopedia, p. 373) BGN-165

BOWEN G36.1-217

Troop of soldiers relax during the filming of "The Patent Leather Kid" on March 29, 1927, on the grounds of Camp (Fort) Lewis. An exceptionally tall soldier certainly stands out in the crowd of his compatriots. These men were probably portraying American foot soldiers in a vivid enactment of the Battle of the Argonne. First National Studio arranged to have the outdoor battle scenes filmed at Camp (Fort) Lewis and thousands of regular USA personnel as well as ROTC units from the University of Washington and 600+ civilians participated in the filming. BGN-117

BOWEN G36.1-218

Actor Richard Barthelmess, writer Adela Rogers St. Johns & director Al Santell on location at Camp (Fort) Lewis during filming of "The Patent Leather Kid, " March, 1927. Miss St. Johns wrote the screen adaptation of Rupert Hughes' short story of the same name. She had arrived in Tacoma on March 22, 1927, to help the continuity of the script. Mr. Barthelmess played the role of a self-centered boxer who learns to face death with the same courage he had faced his ring opponents. He was a Best Actor nominee at the 1927-28 Academy Awards for "The Noose" and "The Patent Leather Kid;" Mr. Hughes also received a nomination for Original Writing. Director Santell was praised by the New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall for bringing out Mr. Barthelmess' flawless acting and while realizing the full pictoral values of his scenes, never permitting them to interrupt the trend of the story. Mr. Santell would go on to direct dozens of silent and sound films of all genres, including The Arizona Kid (1930), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932), Winterset (1936) and The Hairy Ape. (1944) BGN-438

BOWEN G36.1-227C

Richard Barthelmess & Harry Dillon on set of "The Patent Leather Kid," Camp (Fort) Lewis, March 29, 1927. Harry Dillon was a real-life boxer from Canada who was in Tacoma to defend his light heavyweight crown against Eastern Washington's Fred Lenhart. He was on the set of the First National studio's motion picture, "The Patent Leather Kid," to meet a celluloid boxer, Richard Barthelmess, who is dressed in a doughboy 1917 service uniform with tin hat. Mr. Barthelmess was cordially invited to attend the boxing match on March 31, 1927, at the Greenwich Coliseum. (TNT 3-30-27, p. 10) BGN-118

BOWEN G36.1-228

Silent movie star Richard Barthelmess, boxer Harry Dillon, & Hollywood director Al Santell posed for a picture on location at Camp (Fort) Lewis during the filming of "The Patent Leather Kid" on March 29, 1927. Mr. Barthelmess is dressed in doughboy attire for his role as a boxer who enlists in WWI. Mr. Dillon, a Canadian boxer who was known for his knockout right handed "Static Punch," was in Tacoma for his March 31st title fight against Washington native Fred Lenhart to be held at the Greenwich Coliseum. An invitation was extended to the film "boxer" by the real pugilist to attend the bout and Mr. Barthelmess accepted. Mr. Dillon lost his light heavyweight crown by referee's decision. (TNT 3-30-27, p. 10) BGN-164

BOWEN G36.1-227

Actor Richard Barthelmess & champion boxer Harry Dillon shaking hands on location at Camp (Fort) Lewis, March 29, 1927, during filming of "The Patent Leather Kid." Harry Dillon, a Canadian, was in town to defend his light heavyweight title against native son Fred Lenhart at the Greenwich Coliseum on March 31, 1927. He extended an invitation, which Mr. Barthelmess apparently accepted, to watch the bout. Mr. Dillon lost the match by referee's decision; this brought along a mixed reaction by the packed house. (TNT 3-30-27, p. 10) BGN-119

BOWEN G36.1-227B

Richard Barthelmess & Harry Dillon at Camp (Fort) Lewis on March 29, 1927 during break in the filming of "The Patent Leather Kid." Still in his doughboy uniform, Mr. Barthelmess shares a moment of conversation with Canadian boxer Harry Dillon who was in town to defend his light heavyweight crown. In "The Patent Leather Kid," Mr. Barthelmess portrays a self-centered boxer who finally enlists in WWI for the love of beautiful Molly O'Day. He was invited by Mr. Dillon to attend the March 31, 1927, match held at the Greenwich Coliseum downtown. Mr. Dillon ultimately lost the bout to southpaw Washington native Fred Lenhart. (TNT 3-30-27, p. 10) BGN-120

BOWEN G36.1-215B

Arthur Edeson, director of photography, manipulating camera on location of "The Patent Leather Kid," March 29, 1927. Dressed in suit and tie but with a newsboy's cap, Mr. Edeson may be surveying the scene at Camp (Fort) Lewis. He is perched aboard a wheeled cart while his crew help to steady the tripod. Mr. Edeson entered the film industry with the Eclair Co. in 1911. He would play a pivotal role in location sound photography when the silent era came to a close in the late 1920's. BGN-166

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