28. Seattle to the Seymour Narrows

Entries in Hayes’ diary become sparse when he is “settled.”  In this chapter Hayes spent a year in two places: breaking rocks at a quarry in Tacoma Washington, and running logs at a mill pond in Eureka California.  Hayes writes in his diary only about once a month as he finds the settled life “dull, dull DULL.”  To this reader who grew up in Oregon and has seen those great rafts of logs bobbing in the sloughs, skipping logs in the dark would seem anything but dull.

Jean, Hayes mentions a cousin Edith Carlson in Marshfield Oregon.

The map below won’t appear in an email.  The current chapter appears as the pink path, preceded by the yellow from California, and followed by the blue north back to Alaska.

Click here to download chapters 1-28 on Google Earth.  

Here and There Synopsis:

28.1 Breaking Rocks on the Duamish

May 17, 1904

For want of a razor, Hayes missed re-connecting with Martin for the 1904 summer survey of Alaska. He checked around Seattle and was told Martin would be through almost at once. Back at the quarry on the Duamish, “some bewhiskered gentleman who needed [my razor] more than I do took it… When Payday came and I was able to buy one, Martin had gone.”

At least Hayes’ young back is welcome at the quarry. The boss cleaned house by calling out the names of those he wanted on the job. Hayes did not hear his name called and because he had laid off the previous day when, “my leg was half broken by a flying scale of rock,” he gathered his possessions together and lined up to be paid off with those dismissed. To which the boss said “Wotta yuh doin’ here? You’re workin’. Git back to your bunk, I’ll tell yuh when I want yuh to go!” (Hayes’ quote)

May 26, 1904

In fact, Hayes’ writes that his name had not been called because he was hiding out hoping to be overlooked – it’s a job, and he needs the money – but swinging a 14-pound hammer all day qualifies as poor second to exploring Alaska and just barely above tramping down the road to see what else might turn up. But he’s “getting hardened now and can take it with the rest.” Among the steady workers kept on after the house cleaning are Tiddley, an Englishman 42 years old, who cracks rocks “to earn enough to satisfy his longing for booze,” and “Pete, an ancient Swede, 52 years old, [who] keeps up the lick and breaks immense stones better than the younger men.” Pete doesn’t drink, prefers an 18-pound hammer, “and is rumored to have saved his money for the evening of life.”

According to their chatter, some of these men “have been seated among the mighty but have fallen.” Old Jack who runs the crusher claims to have owned most of Mercer Island but lost it speculating. Irish Donnelly says he held title on the site of the Dexter-Horton Bank before coming to the Duamish to break rocks. Not all the men were once wealthy, but all are interesting: Chris, a seaman; Scotty, a British soldier who served in South Africa; Nels, a Swede with the Boer army sent to St. Helena as a prisoner of war. “Not an uninteresting lot of men if one can take it with them.”

July 4, 1904

Price, the genial superintendent of the quarry who visits frequently from his home in the city, worries that the men “will be disorganized and weak from dissipation for a week or so after today [the national holiday], and it is an even bet many of them will be in the can tonight at Seattle.”

Only Hayes, Old Jack “who has had his day,” and Pete the big Swede, “too cautious and too penurious to spend,” remain at the quarry looking out across the valley to the countryside, “charming in its summer beauty.” It’s good to have a rest day from the heavy work. Hayes figures he’ll stay on another month then head back to Eureka.

Riverton Bridge, Duwamish River.
built in 1903

July 23, 1904

As Price predicted, “Some of the men never returned from their celebration of the nation’s birthday.” But Tiddley came back – and suddenly he’s stopped complaining about the cook, “a sturdy Finnish widow, who always boils the eggs hard and makes the coffee strong.” Romance is in the air – so accordingly the men are sending Tiddley “quotations on baby carriages, bedroom sets and such.” But Tiddley has a rival, a twenty year old lad from Mississippi, “who learned to admire the widow.” The younger man comes in for chafing about being adopted by the widow “who is not an hour less than forty.” Hayes reports it all rather distractedly, laughing at the cook’s two nightly auxiliary dishwashers. We never find out who prevailed.

28.2 To San Francisco: Sea Sick as always

August 4, 1904

After July payday, Hayes left the quarry bound for San Francisco on the Umatilla, “an ancient wooden vessel long since antiquated, but will run until she sinks if her owners can make profit from her.” The little money he’s earned won’t go even for second class; he travels “steerage” the cheapest ticket and worst accommodations possible. “The smells emanating from the steerage quarters turned my stomach before we left the dock,” then the old boat started rolling brining on four days of his old friend “mal-de-mer.”

He toured the park at San Fransicso “and to Cliff House to see the sights of the city.”

Cliff House circa 1900

The sightseeing tour may have been to settle his stomach in preparation for another 216 nautical miles north to Eureka. At the time, a ship was the only way to get from San Francisco to Eureka, “and I will be seasick again, for the northwest winds are constant now, lashing the sea into a fury.”

28.3 Winter in Eureka

August 16, 1904

Back in Eureka, Hayes’ old boss George Glynn “is now the big shot of the company.” Glynn hires Hayes on to a clannish Italian gang working “on a roadway spur where the road runs through a tunnel.” This is heavy work, loading scrapers, and Hayes weighs just enough to “bring down the beam.” Glynn gives Hayes this punishing work and an admonition: “He tells me he wants me to deep the lick, and to stay on the job this time instead of running off across the world, then coming back broke.” The new position has changed Glynn who used to be congenial overseer into an authoritative company man: “Sorry, but George is a good boss gone wrong.”

September 24, 1904

After a month under the sharp tongue of the “straw boss on the railway job,” Glynn transferred Hayes back onto the pond working logs but not before giving him another hectoring, “I want you to stay on the job, not be leaving when everything is going smooth.”

Returning right back to the job he held two years ago, without a penny to show for his wondering, prompts a brief self-examination: “I am now 26 years of age, and should be getting something together if ever.” The standard plan for a man his age would be to raise a little money, marry, rear a family and live happily. But that path his not for Hayes – not that he couldn’t if he wanted to – “As always, I have a lot of pretty girl-friends, but none of them serious” – it’s just that “I have a deal of trouble caring for myself.”

Self-assessment over – back to work. Running logs on the pond requires a great deal of skill and Hayes is good at it.

Logs on a Mill Pond

Saltwater surges back and forth into the bay daily, floating the logs higher than in fresh water. Hayes picks up where he left off two years ago: pushing logs back into the sloughs for sawing in the winter when the logging camp cannot run. The men on the pond use the high tides at full moon to push the logs upstream. This means they must go skipping out onto the floating logs in the dark. “Logs seem all the same level in the moonlight, and we have some sharp falls by making a wrong estimate of their heights in the dim light of the moon.” But all the men are skilled at the work and seldom fall in. “Unless [a] man’s head goes under, it is not counted against him. He must be wholly under to count.”

October 7, 1904

A shingle mill under construction nearby causes extra work storing light logs, so Glynn sends down “green” men from the mill who don’t know how to run the logs. They constantly fall into the bay and when hauled out by the experienced men find the “head clear” scoring system not particularly funny. When the green men quit, “George Glynn, cusses us for our ill-timed humor.”

Steady work but it’s “dull, dull, DULL!” To church on Sundays and some evenings where the food is excellent, “but there is a larger crowd now and it takes the edge off it all.”

The local duck hunters are in a squabble because a number of wealthy “sportsmen” (Hayes’ quote) have incorporated the common ground into a private reserve, excluding “all the men who have hunted these grounds ever since they were able to carry a gun.” But Hayes has no gun, no desire to shoot ducks, and is tired after a day running logs anyway, so he stays out of the quarrel.

November 23, 1904

When Hayes is working steadily the diary entries become sparse. “Time slips by but there is little of interest to chronicle here.” He’d leave but, “There is little of interest in the world now other than the Russo-Japanese war.”

Depiction of Japanese Warships besieging Port Arthur

Hayes believes that most citizens in the United States sympathize with the Japanese because the Russians “bullying of their own subjects has alienated the other white against them.” But he won’t travel to Port Arthur; “War doesn’t interest me. I want Africa, though I know not what it means. One of these days I am going to see it if I live.”

December 20, 1904

Another month slips by with nothing to write about but the work. The redwood trees sent by the cutting outfit are magnificent. “We had one tree 27 (twenty-seven) feet in diameter formerly. It was hollow and had been burned out until a waterboy mounted on a pony rode his mount in eighty feet, then turned and came back out again.” By the time it was blasted to pieces, 35 logs were sawn from that single tree.

The cutters up in the woods ship logs to the millpond by rail. Before a load is tipped into the water, Hayes and the other men on the pond amuse themselves predicting which on the load will be “sinkers,” butts of the tree so impregnated with water they won’t float. Then to work: “We match every log with another of like diameter and hang them off with topes. We bore holes on either side, drive the ropes in and set pegs on top of the ropes, forming batteries and placing them in rafts.” All this –all day – in the rain.

Incredibly, some of the men doing work on the logs with Hayes cannot swim. One such, a “genial Pole” named Jack Zientara. fell into the rushing flood and would have perished but for the “nimble feet” and pike of Ed Johnson.

January 17, 1905

For the first time in six months Hayes himself fell into the pond. A good deal of razzing ensued but “the boys sympathized saying my head never went under, and that saved the day, even if it was cold.” With all the cold January rain, a man on the logs is about as wet whether he falls in or not. All the good-natured levity cannot disguise the real peril of the logs: “The great danger is, to get a piece of bark speared on one’s calks and not know it. Then a man will slip and fall heavily, perhaps strike his head on a log. Once under the milling logs in a swift current, there is little chance of life.”

Calk Boots

At the holiday, Hayes took in a Christmas tree “because there was no alibi to keep it out.” He’s still attending the mission church where John Walker, an old man Hayes quite admires, preaches nightly at the street meetings then later at the hall. “He is wealthy, but a sincere Christian.” Hayes, on the other hand, is still broke because he’s still sending out all his earnings to pay past debts. “This is what takes everything I make, for I am slowly settling all, even the railway fare I beat the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe and other roads out of when a boy.”

February 10,1905

A little more self-reflection at his 27th birthday: “My relatives all say I am a failure, and this hurts, for they get every extra cent I make.” His mother says he should have gone to Stanford when offered the chance, but what’s done is done. Hayes will try again for Alaska with Martin this summer – though George Glynn will be mad.

The preacher John Walker died. Hayes went to hear him preach in the street then the two talked on about earthly versus heavenly riches until about 10:00. Walker was stricken with an aneurism around midnight and died peacefully the next evening with Hayes standing over him. It is hard to lose “the one sincere friend I had in Eureka.

March 5, 1905

Only constant hard work keeps Hayes warm on the millpond in the sleet driving hard off the hills. Out on the cold bay, he dreams of Africa: “To me getting ahead is to get established in some way in Africa.” By now he reckons he’s made full restitution to anyone he ever cheated “and will be able to save a few dollars for Africa.”

And a letter has come from Martin: “He is to head a considerable party that will fully map the region round Controller Bay, and that he expects to take a trip to the Matanuska region near the head of Cook’s Inlet to investigate the coal beds there.” Martin wants Hayes along and will pay several hundred dollars!

April 2, 1905

With Alaska waiting, time drags on the millpond for Hayes. The local duck hunters refused to allow their traditional hunting ground to be restricted: “Despite the warden resident on the reserve, hunters invaded it from every side. When the warden chased men out on one side, others came over the farther boundary, shooting at every duck, far or near.” Hayes thinks: Bully for them; Alaska has plenty of ducks.

28.4 Finally, north to Seatle

May 6, 1905

With no remark about what George Glynn said about Hayes leaving the mill in Eureka, Hayes strikes out north for Seattle by way of Marshfield where he saw an old shipmate apparently hiding out and dropped a note to his cousin Edith Carlson, then to Portland where the World’s Fair will open shortly. Seattle still booms on trade to miners heading to the Klondike. A few friends amuse Hayes in Seattle and Martin will be here in two weeks.

25.5 Seymour Narrows

May 16, 1905

Six members of Martin’s 1905 survey crew, “Martin, Hamilton, a topographer, three university students and me,” sail north crowded together with miners headed to the Yukon. “We will be joined later by Maddren, who is to collect fossils, and a chap named Small, who will be as I am. I don’t like the setup much, but one must take it and like it as it is.”

The photo below is from the 1904 expedition, the trip Hayes missed for want of a razor. GC Martin wears the tall boots on the left.

G.C. Martin, Stanton, L. Martin, Brown, and Keyes

“Martin is slightly swelled up over his bigger party,” and will no longer listen to Hayes about provisioning. Hayes says he saved the party $1500 on the 1903 trip, but now that Martin considers himself fully qualified to lead, “he is slinging away money on useless equipment, and will go short unless he considers matters more carefully.”

Running the narrows a bit late on the slack tide was exciting. “But all is well, and we are out in the gulf beyond.”

(to get to the Martin photo: go to the USGS photographic library and search Alaska Martin, it is photo number 87 on p. 4.)

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