Funter Bay History: Letterhead Evolution

June 26, 2017

In the days before email, every successful business needed a snappy letterhead. Even short-lived businesses which existed only on paper would create fanciful letterhead logos and designs to adorn their correspondence. For the companies that stood the test of time, letterheads would evolve and change as styles moved in and out of fashion. Usually they became fancier and more ornate. The Thlinket Packing Co was no exception, updating and improving their corporate logo several times over the years.

The earliest letterhead for the company was from 1902, when the cannery at Funter Bay was built. This is the first and only reference I’ve seen to “Elizabeth Point”, apparently named after founder James Barron’s wife Elizabeth.

SONY DSC

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Manuscript Collection MS 43

By 1905 the corporate letterhead featured a photo of the cannery by an unknown photographer (I have not yet located an original).

letterhead 1905

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Manuscript Collection MS 43

In 1906 there seem to have been a few minor changes. A letter sent in January shows a slightly updated version of the 1905 letterhead, adding a new canned salmon product. It also added a house flag (indicating which company owned a vessel), with the “B” perhaps standing for Barron. A message sent later in 1906 from Funter Bay apparently re-used the 1905 letterhead.

SONY DSC

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Manuscript Collection MS 43

By 1912 the Thlinket Packing Co’s letterhead was quite ornate, featuring a new font and new photos from the 1907 visit of photographers Case & Draper:

SONY DSC

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Manuscript Collection MS 43

 

Thanks to Alaska historian and collector Robert DeArmond, we have a very nice cross section of these letterheads to see! Among other documents, DeArmond collected a huge file of corporate letterheads from companies located or operating in Alaska. This material is not yet online, but can be viewed in person at the Alaska State Library & Archives under Manuscript Collection MS 43.


Funter Bay History: Cannery Shipping and Maintenance

June 30, 2016

I recently received a few Funter Bay images from Michael and Carolyn Nore, collectors of historic Alaska postcards and photos. These show some of the Thlinket Packing Co’s operations between about 1914 and 1920. Most are prior to 1918 (based on the cards used), but some are from the same summer as the photos seen previously in this post.

The first photo is a great shot of the Cannery wharf and main buildings, marked “Front View of Cannery”. The large “Thlinket Packing Co” sign is visible above the warehouse. The mess hall and store is barely visible in the rear right, and the Superintendent’s house with its large porch is seen on the left.

funter bay2 5-18-16 copy

Moving inland, a set of two images show the rear of the cannery buildings. The large chimneys were from the main boiler house.

funter bay6 5-18-16 copy funter bay4 back view of cannery 5-18-16 copy

The previous photo shows a number of handprints marking the foreground building. I am not sure what this building is, as it does not appear on either the 1964 or 1942 property maps.

Another set shows one of the cannery’s steam-powered pile drivers. I am not sure how many of these units the Thlinket Packing co owned, the remains of a smaller one is on the beach at Funter Bay. A large unit nearly identical to the one in these pictures appears in a 1926 photo at the mine wharf (seen on this page).

funter bay8 5-18-16 copy funter bay1 5-18-16 copy

Some scows, rowboats, and a gas boat are seen at the dock and wharf in the next photo. This is a little later than the others, dated May 21 1920:

funter bay11 6-29-16 copy

The photo below shows a gas boat or launch under the pipeline from the cannery’s oil tank, in June 1920.

funter bay9 6-29-16 copy

The next photo is labeled “One of the company tugs with a diver repairing her rudder”. It shows a sailing vessel alongside the cannery’s steam tug Anna Barron and a variety of smaller boats. Men on the sailboat are operating an air compressor and have lowered a ladder and several pipes and ropes over the side. What appears to be a diving suit is draped over the sailboat’s boom.

funter bay3 tug repair by diver 5-18-16 copy

Moving up in vessel sizes, the next photo shows the Pacific Coast Steamship Co’s City of Seattle at the cannery wharf. The appearance of the ship dates this to 1914 or later, as the City of Seattle was completely rebuilt that year and converted from coal to oil fuel. Prior to 1914 the ship had a different superstructure and the foremast was aft of the wheelhouse, as seen here. The re-built ship can also be seen here and a description of the refit is here. Like other commercial steamers, the ship would call at canneries as needed to transport supplies, products, and workers.

funter bay5 steamer city of seattle 5-18-16 copy

Next is a photo of the “Indian Village” located Northeast of the cannery. While postcards tend to call this a village, most accounts state it was not occupied year round. The area was more of a seasonal camp for native employees of the cannery who lived there in the summer.

funter bay7 indian village near cannery 5-18-16 copy

And the last photo shows an interesting gazebo on the hill behind the cannery, with some Tlingit employees relaxing on benches. What appear to be a number of halibut can be seen hanging from the boardwalk below. The date is not given but is probably between 1914-1918.

funter bay10 6-29-16 copy

Thanks again to the Nores for sharing these great images!


Funter Bay History: Seattle High School Students

March 24, 2015

In the summer of 1919, a group of Seattle high school students traveled to Alaska to work at the Funter Bay cannery. One or more of the group took a number of photos during this and possibly subsequent trips. I have been posting photos from this collection over the last several weeks.

group3

The above photo was likely taken soon after arrival at Funter Bay. The boys are wearing outfits more appropriate for school than for cannery work. One boy on the left has a Ballard HS letter jacket.

A list of the students along with contact information for their parents is labeled “Contracts… Funter Bay”. The back has some of the same names along with numbers, perhaps related to hours or pay.

ebay49    50_crop

The names on the list are:
Clarence Hawley
George Anderson
Malcolm Owen
Harold Hendrickson
Roy F. Swenson
Marvin Kleve
Ed Wilkerson
George Fraley
Gilbert Swart
Elmer Green
Cedric Hilton
Eugene Walby
Robert Stevens
Webster Hallett

Twelve of these boys attended Ballard High School, while two (Owen and Hallett) attended Lincoln High School.

Ballard_Boys_Alaska

Professor Carl Milton Brewster taught Chemistry at Washington State University. Some of these students went on to study Chemistry at various Washington colleges. Prof. Brewster is likely the older man seen in several of the group photos (at center, below). The students have acquired more rugged outfits and a variety of hats in this photo:

group2

Some of these photos are RPPCs, or private photos printed on postcard stock. Several images are wallet-size prints with writing on the reverse side, and some of the smaller prints are partially hand-colorized. There were also a few commercial postcards, likely purchased during the trip. As some of the photos in this set are from later years, one or more of the boys probably returned for subsequent summers. Cannery work reportedly paid better than the summer jobs available in Seattle at the time.

knights2

Written on the back of this photo; “We are rowing boat on the bay”. The cannery bunkhouses are visible in the background:

rowing

And on this photo; “We boys cross the bay and go up to the tunnel of the gold mine”. Apparently a visit to the mine required fancier clothes! This may have been a day off for the boys, or could have been an educational visit to learn about assaying or other mine-related topics.

mine

This photo of Harold Hendrickson is labeled “Me (Buck)”. He may have been the photographer of some or all of these images:

buck

After graduation several of these boys attended the University of Washington, including Harold Hendrickson, Clarence Hawley, and Gilbert Swart. Hawley and Swart both went into chemical engineering. Hendrickson seems to have followed the relatively new field of air conditioning, writing several papers on the subject. He is listed in the 1940 census as an Air Conditioning Engineer in California.

group

group4

Some associated photos from the same collection were taken at other locations, possibly by the same people on their way to or from Funter Bay. These include more RPPCs, trimmed wallet-size prints, and at least one commercial postcard.

Inside passage view, possibly from a steamship:

mountains
View from a ship, probably of Taku Glacier near Juneau:

taku

The next two images show the Steamship Admiral Evans, which occasionally called at Funter Bay. The first appears to be a commercial postcard, possibly purchased on board. The 2nd seems to be labeled in the same way as some of the cannery tender photos from this collection. This may have been taken on the way to Funter Bay at the start of the 1920 season.

evans

evans2

Many of the Ballard students seen here went on to form a club called the “Knights of the Moon”, established January 31, 1920 (Per the Seattle Times). As described in a 1994 Times article, the club was started by 13 friends who attended Ballard High School in 1917, 1918, and 1919. Most of the club members were school athletes who played basketball and baseball, and the club fielded Church League and City League teams after high school.  Several members were good singers, who would go to “Ballard Beach” in Seattle to “bay at the moon” according to Clarence Anderson (George Anderson’s brother). The club would put on dances, beach parties, and theater parties. Anderson reported that there was no drinking at these parties, and credits the club for keeping some young people out of trouble.

knights

Eventually the club reached 50 members, pledging new members like a fraternity, and not missing a monthly meeting until 1987. The Times article went on to report the final meeting in 1994, as only three charter members were still alive.  (Charter Members were listed as Carl Anderson, George Fraley, George Frazier, Clarence Hawley, Harold Hendrickson, Herman Leander, Richard Smith, Roy Swenson, Edwin Wilkerson, Rolf Wiggen, Clarence Anderson, George Anderson, and Harold Shepard).

Several of my recent posts feature other photos from this collection, possibly including and/or taken by some of these people. They are:
Steam Donkey Part II (includes another group photo of the Ballard Students)
1920s Cannery Postcards
1920s Cannery Workers
Cannery Tender Operations
Navy Ships
Dano Mine Part II

I would like to thank Dr. Alice Eagly for providing information about her father, Harold Hendrickson. I would also like to thank the Ballard High School foundation for providing research material on these students.


Funter Bay History: Canning Process

March 4, 2015

I have previously mentioned some of the techniques and methods involved in early 20th-century cannery operations, but this post follows the entire salmon canning process from the ocean to the grocery store!

At Southeast Alaska canneries like the one at Funter Bay, the first step was the fish trap, either the floating or pile variety (I discussed fish trap types and issues here, and have a location map here).

trap_diagram

Image courtesy of Historic American Engineering Record / Library of Congress, Tim Whitely 1993. Modified from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ak0437.sheet.00002a/

After the trap was filled with fish, it would be “brailed” or emptied into a scow (barge) by lifting the nets and dumping the fish. I previously posted a set of postcard images showing this process here.

funter_brailing_1908

Courtesy University of Washington Freshwater and Marine Image Bank

Full scows were then towed by cannery tenders to the wharf. Below are several loads of salmon arriving at the Funter cannery:

scows2

Courtesy of the Alaska State Library, William R Norton collection, P226-445

The following diagrams from the Historic American Engineering Record show the canning process at a typical Alaska operation (The Kake cannery, which was under the same ownership as the Funter Bay cannery in the 1930s):

kake1

Courtesy of Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Tim Whiteley and James Creech, 1993 & 1995.

kake2

Courtesy of Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Tim Whiteley and James Creech, 1993 & 1995.

Once at the cannery, the fish were unloaded by hand into a “Fish Elevator”, an angled conveyor belt which moved them up to the level of the processing line. A video clip of such a fish elevator in action can be seen here. The salmon were then sorted by species (unwanted bycatch fish were usually discarded at the scow before loading onto the elevator).

The sorted salmon were run through the canning line one species at a time, each species typically had its own brand and label. First the salmon were cleaned and dressed. Originally this was done by hand with a crew of laborers (often Chinese, Japanese, or Filipino, although the Thlinket Packing co initially had many Tlingit Native employees). Later the cleaning process was automated, with an unfortunately-named device replacing many of the labor-intensive steps in preparing the salmon.

kake3

funter_iron

During the fish cleaning process, offal (heads, gills, and guts) was conveyed to a waste bin. It was later loaded back into empty scows for disposal, as seen in this post. A small amount was sometimes sold to fur farms to feed fox and mink, but most was simply discarded. This is still commonly done in many canneries.

The hills in the photo below seem to match the head of Funter Bay, this could have been taken while dumping fish waste near the mouth of the bay.

seagulls

The following five photos are from a standard cannery of very similar design to the Thlinket Packing Co’s Funter Bay plant. These are from the Pacific Fisherman Volume 4 Annual Yearbook, of 1906, and are used as public domain per the Freshwater and Marine Image Bank’s policy. The article describes this as a cannery in Puget Sound, although one of the photos used in the article  is also labeled on a postcard as “Robert Barron’s Cannery” of “Fonters Bay”.

After cleaning, the next step for salmon bodies was cutting, originally by hand and later done by a mechanical gang knife. This sized the fish appropriately to fit in cans.

gang_knives

Cans were filled, crimped, washed, topped, and soldered shut. Again, more and more of this process became automated over time.

crimping_maching

soldering_machine

The soldered-shut cans were cooked in a retort, essentially a large steam pressure cooker (a small vent hole was left in the can during cooking, and soldered shut afterward). At the Washington cannery this was done for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 240 degrees F and 15psi.

retort

After being removed from the retort and given time to cool, the cans were run through a labeling machine to receive the appropriate label for the species and brand. Quality control workers checked the weight and seal at various points during the process.

labelling machine

Some can labels from the Thlinket Packing Co are seen in this post.

Finished cans were packed into boxes built from prefab sections and assembled at the cannery.

The next two images were in a batch of photographs from Funter Bay, taken around 1919. The first photo appears to show cans moving through some machinery (perhaps the soldering machine) and stacking up on a cooling rack prior to being loaded into a retort for cooking. The exposure is long enough that the top row of cans appeared on the pile while the shutter was open (they look transparent). People moving in the background are also blurry. Assembled wooden boxes are seen in the background.

machinery2

The next photo is a little harder to make out, but includes an angled ramp on the right hand side, similar to the can filler machine. Empty cans were stored in the loft above the canning floor, and dropped down to the working stations through these ramps. Overhead belts fed power to the equipment from a central engine. A spare belt is seen wrapped around the top of the machine.

machinery1

The filler machine at Funter Bay can be seen below. empty cans are being fed in from overhead ramps:

funter_filler_machine

Courtesy of Alaska State Library, William R. Norton Photograph collection, ASL-P226-453

The interior of the T.P. Co Cannery at Funter is seen in this 1907 image (below). Metal cooling racks are stacked on the right, while conveyors are in the center. A vent hood near the middle could be a soldering station. A slightly different version of this image labeled “Interior Canning Department” can be seen here.

Another image from about the same time shows 75,000 cases of salmon in the Thlinket Packing Co’s warehouse. The cans have not yet been boxed up. Another warehouse view is here.

Once packaged, the finished product was shipped South on commercial steamers or on freight ships owned by the cannery, to be sold to wholesale grocers for delivery to the consumer. Salmon in a can would appear on the shelf much as it does today, in fact the colors and art used on labels today is very similar to that of historic labels.

2005_06_191_f

Sea Rose Brand Salmon Label from Thlinket Packing Co., c. 1905. Image courtesy of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, 2005.06.191.

 

modern_cans

Modern salmon cans, photo by the author.

 

 

 


Funter Bay History: Steam Donkey Part II

March 3, 2015

I previously mentioned a Vulcan Iron Works steam donkey at Funter Bay in one of my earlier posts on steam power and internal combustion. Recently I acquired a photo which shows a very similar device at Funter, perhaps the same one. This photo is likely from the summer of 1919.

donkey

The photo was taken at the corner of the main Thlinket Packing Co warehouse, seen below:

crop

The steam donkey seen in 1919 and the one in my modern photos look nearly identical to me. The layout of pipes, the piston parts, and the boiler door all appear to match. The donkey in 1919 is mounted on large logs. My modern-day photos do not show any logs under the engine, but loose spikes are visible (the logs likely rotted away or were removed). John Taubeneck provided some details on the Vulcan Iron Works in a comment on my earlier post, noting that there are only a few of these donkeys remaining. He believes the unit pictured above is slightly smaller than the one in the woods, but it is hard to tell.

Neither photo shows the conical top or smokestack seen on other Vulcan donkeys, in the 1919 image they may have been removed for shipping, and by the time of my photos the stack seems to have rusted off and fallen to the ground (a few decades ago it was still mostly upright and covered with a washtub).

donkey2

The remaining donkey is across the bay at the base of the mountain where it powered an aerial mine tram. If these are the same unit, it may have originally been owned by the cannery and later sold to the mine. As the cannery used mainly low-horsepower gas engines on-site, a steam engine would likely have been used somewhere off the property. It could have served as a pile driver engine, or been used for logging in Kelp Bay or elsewhere.

The men posing on the donkey in the 1919 photo seem to have been a group of Seattle high school students. They will probably be discussed in an upcoming post.


Funter Bay History: Cannery Tender Operations

February 27, 2015

Some photos from July of 1920 show several of the cannery tenders (fish handling boats) and barges at the Thlinket Packing Co.

barron

Above, the Anna Barron maneuvers two loaded fish scows up to the cannery wharf. This vessel is discussed further here.

A close-up of one of the scows shows a full load of salmon fresh from the traps:

salmon2

Below is another Thlinket Packing Co boat, the Barron F, seen in front of the cannery wharf with Highwater Island and Mt. Robert Barron behind. This 98-year-old boat is still working the West Coast, I have a number of photos courtesy of the present owner available here.

barron_f

Unlike the Anna Barron, which was configured as a tugboat, the Barron F was a packer or cargo vessel with large midships hold. The Funter Bay cannery had several of each type of vessel, used somewhat interchangeably depending on the task at hand.

The next photo shows a scow, now emptied of salmon, being loaded with waste from the canning line. Elevated wooden bins held heads, guts, and other unwanted bits of fish until they could be dumped into a scow. The scow was then towed to deeper water and dumped. This kept the cannery smelling slightly better, with fewer bears nosing around, than if the waste were simply dumped directly in front. The cannery’s oil tank is visible on the point in the background.

dump

In the last photo, we see one of the cannery tenders towing a piledriver out of the bay. The profile of the vessel suggests it might be the Anna Barron. Smoke is coming from the pile driver’s steam engine, which suggests it will soon be at work on one of the fish traps outside the bay.

piledriver


Funter Bay History: 1920s Cannery Postcards

February 25, 2015

I recently came across a batch of postcards showing Funter Bay in the 1920s. These appear to have come from the estate of someone associated with the cannery. I was able to purchase several of these, and was generously given permission to use copies of the others here.

view1

It is not clear which of these were commercially-sold postcards and which were private photos printed on postcard stock. “Real Photo Post Cards“, or “RPPCs” enabled people to make a postcard from any photo. Kodak began offering pre-printed postcard stock early in the 1900s, and Federal law allowed postcards with written messages on the back in 1907. Some RPPCs were mass produced and some were unique prints by private individuals. Some of the cards in this set are labeled, dated, and/or have a photographers name, but most are unlabeled. Based on what I can identify of the people and vessels depicted, the dates range from around 1918 to the early 1920s.

The following map helps place some of these photos. This is part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service records from the National Archives, showing the cannery in 1942. The general layout is much the same as it was in the 1920s, with only minor changes. The 1929 Aerial photo that I previously posted is also helpful.

1942 Cannery map

Below is a colorized version of the first photo above. This view looks out over the cannery buildings from near the Native employees’ houses. The main wharf with long packing and warehouse buildings are seen, along with the twin chimneys of the boiler house. Bunkhouses and residences are in the foreground, with the mess hall and company store near the middle.

view4

The next photo shows an open area behind the mess hall and bunkhouses. Boardwalks lead between buildings, with what appear to be vegetable gardens on either side. Stacks of firewood are seen along the boardwalk, with long logs split into quarters. Clothes are hung to dry on the left of the nearest boardwalk, the laundry and bath house was located just off-camera to the left. The building on the far right is probably the repair shop which still stands today, behind it is the Superintendent’s house and just to the left of it are homes for managers and guests (one of these has also been referred to as a schoolhouse).

gardens

Below is a photo of the summer housing for Tlingit cannery workers. This is sometimes referred to as a village, although other accounts state that it was not occupied year-round. These structures were later demolished to make way for saltery buildings. Several canoes and a motor launch are visible.

village

A more distant view of the “village” shows its relationship to the cannery buildings (at left):

village2

A smaller photo or print shows a boat at the cannery’s floating dock, with Mt. Robert Barron in the background. This seems to have been taken from near the bunkhouse which sat partly over the high tide line:

boat

Two more photos show the floating dock from the other direction, taken at different stages of the tide with different small boats at the dock. A sign on the approach ramp appears to read “Private Float, no gas boats allowed”. The bottom photo shows scows with rolls of netting or fencing in the front, likely fish trap materials. Some of the boats seen in prior photos are moored to pilings in the background:

float float2

The next photo shows a higher angle view of the float approach and bunkhouse, maybe from the mast of a ship. The cannery’s wooden water tank is visible in the background. The cleared area between the tank and buildings would later hold the Chinese and Filipino bunkhouses. The company store is on the left. An interesting feature is the narrow ramp extending from the rear of the store into the water. This was the cannery’s trash chute where garbage was dumped into the bay. The base of this chute was very popular for bottle hunting at low tide in later years!

store

The next photo shows the rear of one of the waterfront buildings. A scow is moored to a piling in the middle ground, with the mountain shrouded in clouds behind. This may be from 1919:

view2

The next image also looks out over the cannery buildings, Mt. Robert Barron is in the background:

overview

And finally, a view out over Funter Bay to the South, showing Station Island (two sections, one forested), Rat Island, and Bare Island (low rock at left). Clear Point is on the right, and Chichagof Island’s mountains are visible in the distance:

water1