Wawona (schooner)

Last updated
Wawona 39.jpg
Wawona, 2009
US flag 45 stars.svgUnited States
Builder: Hans Ditlev Bendixsen, near Eureka, California
Out of service: 1948
Fate: Dismantled, 2009
General characteristics
Class and type: Fore-and-aft schooner
Length: 165 feet (50 m)
Beam: 35 feet (11 m)
Draft: 12 feet (3.7 m)
Wawona (schooner)
Wawona 21.jpg
Wawona, 2007, needing major restoration
Location Seattle, Washington
Coordinates 47°37′37″N122°20′10″W / 47.62694°N 122.33611°W / 47.62694; -122.33611 Coordinates: 47°37′37″N122°20′10″W / 47.62694°N 122.33611°W / 47.62694; -122.33611
Architect Hans Bendixsen
NRHP reference # 70000643 [1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP1 July 1970
Designated SEATL14 March 1977 [2]

Wawona was an American three-masted, fore-and-aft schooner that sailed from 1897 to 1947 as a lumber carrier and fishing vessel based in Puget Sound. She was one of the last survivors of the sailing schooners in the West Coast lumber trade to San Francisco from Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.

A schooner is a type of sailing vessel with fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts. The most common type has two masts, the foremast being shorter than the main. While the schooner was originally gaff-rigged, modern schooners typically carry a Bermuda rig.

Puget Sound sound along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington

Puget Sound is a sound along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. It is a complex estuarine system of interconnected marine waterways and basins, with one major and two minor connections to the open Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Juan de Fuca—Admiralty Inlet being the major connection and Deception Pass and Swinomish Channel being the minor.

The West Coast lumber trade was a maritime trade route on the West Coast of the United States. It carried lumber from the coasts of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington mainly to the port of San Francisco. The trade included direct foreign shipment from ports of the Pacific Northwest and might include another product characteristic of the region, salmon, as in the schooner Henry Wilson sailing from Washington state for Australia with "around 500,000 feet of lumber and canned salmon" in 1918.


Wawona was built near Eureka, California on Humboldt Bay by Hans Ditlev Bendixsen, who was one of the most important West Coast shipbuilders of the late 19th century. The vessel was 165 feet (50 m) long with a 35-foot (11 m) beam. Her masts were 110 feet (34 m) tall.

Eureka, California City in California in the United States

Eureka is the principal city and county seat of Humboldt County in the Redwood Empire region of California. The city is located on U.S. Route 101 on the shores of Humboldt Bay, 270 miles (430 km) north of San Francisco and 100 miles (160 km) south of the Oregon border. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 27,191, and the population of Greater Eureka was 45,034.

Humboldt Bay bay on the North Coast of California

Humboldt Bay is a natural bay and a multi-basin, bar-built coastal lagoon located on the rugged North Coast of California, entirely within Humboldt County. It is the largest protected body of water on the West Coast between San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound, the second largest enclosed bay in California, and the largest port between San Francisco and Coos Bay, Oregon. The largest city adjoining the bay is Eureka, the regional center and county seat of Humboldt County, followed by the town of Arcata. These primary cities together with adjoining unincorporated communities and several small towns comprise a Humboldt Bay Area total population of nearly 80,000 people, which accounts for nearly 60% of the population of Humboldt County. In addition to being home to more than 100 plant species, 300 invertebrate species, 100 fish species, and 200 bird species, the bay and its complex system of marshes and grasses support hundreds of thousands of migrating and local shore birds. Commercially, this second largest estuary in California houses the largest oyster production operations on the West Coast, producing more than half of all oysters farmed in California.

Hans Ditlev Bendixsen American shipbuilder

Hans Ditlev Bendixsen was an American shipbuilder who was instrumental in the development of the merchant marine industry on the West Coast of the United States. His lumber schooners were built in or near Eureka, California in shipyards on Humboldt Bay for over 30 years. These schooners played a major role in the historic west coast lumber trade.

She was berthed at South Lake Union Park in Seattle adjacent to the Center for Wooden Boats. She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Washington State Heritage Register, and was an official city landmark. [3] However, after efforts to restore the decaying ship failed, she was dismantled in March 2009. In 2012 artist John Grade used parts from the ship in a massive 65-foot sculpture called Wawona in the Grand Atrium of Seattle's Museum of History & Industry. Wood from the ship was also used to create the museum's front desk and the bar at the museum's Compass Cafe.

A berth is a designated location in a port or harbour used for mooring vessels when they are not at sea. Berths provide a vertical front which allows safe and secure mooring that can then facilitate the unloading or loading of cargo or people from vessels.

Seattle City in Washington, United States

Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 730,000 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area’s population stands at 3.87 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the Top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

Center for Wooden Boats museum on the south shore of Lake Union, Seattle, Washington, U.S.

The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) is a museum dedicated to preserving and documenting the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest area of the United States. CWB was founded by Dick Wagner in Seattle in the 1970s and has grown to include three sites; the South Lake Union campus in Lake Union Park, the Northlake Workshop & Warehouse at the North end of Lake Union, and The Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island.



From 1897 to 1913, the schooner carried lumber from Grays Harbor and Puget Sound ports to California. One of her captains, Ralph E. "Matt" Peasley, inspired a series of popular novels.

Grays Harbor estuary and bay of Pacific Ocean in Washington state, U.S.

Grays Harbor is an estuarine bay located 45 miles (72 km) north of the mouth of the Columbia River, on the southwest Pacific coast of Washington state, in the United States of America. It is a ria, which formed at the end of the last ice age, when sea levels flooded the Chehalis River. The bay is 17 miles (27 km) long and 12 miles (19 km) wide. The Chehalis River flows into its eastern end, where the city of Aberdeen stands at that river's mouth, on its north bank, with the somewhat smaller city of Hoquiam immediately to its northwest, along the bayshore. Besides the Chehalis, many lesser rivers and streams flow into Grays Harbor, such as Hoquiam River and Humptulips River. A pair of low peninsulas separate it from the Pacific Ocean, except for an opening about two miles (3 km) in width. The northern peninsula, which is largely covered by the community of Ocean Shores, ends in Point Brown. Facing that across the bay-mouth is Point Chehalis, at the end of the southern peninsula upon which stands the town of Westport.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.


From 1914 until 1947, except during World War II, Wawona sailed to the Bering Sea with a crew of 36 to fish for cod. In 1935, her captain, Charles Foss, died at the wheel during a storm in the Aleutian Islands.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Bering Sea Marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Alaska, Eastern Russia and the Aleutian Islands

The Bering Sea is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It comprises a deep water basin, which then rises through a narrow slope into the shallower water above the continental shelves.


Cod is the common name for the demersal fish genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae. Cod is also used as part of the common name for a number of other fish species, and some species suggested to belong to genus Gadus are not called cod.

Restoration and dismantling

In 1964, sixteen years after the vessel's retirement, a group of Seattle citizens, headed by Kay Bullitt, formed Northwest Seaport and purchased Wawona as a museum ship. The schooner was made available for public visits during her ongoing restoration. [4]

Katharine "Kay" Bullitt is a Seattle education reformer, civil rights activist and philanthropist. Bullitt was instrumental in the desegregation of Seattle public schools.

Northwest Seaport maritime museum in Seattle

Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization in Seattle, Washington dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Puget Sound and Northwest Coast maritime heritage, expressed through educational programs and experiences available to the public aboard its ships. The organization owns three large historic vessels docked at the Historic Ships' Wharf in Seattle's Lake Union Park; the tugboat Arthur Foss (1889), Lightship 83 Swiftsure (1904), and the halibut fishing schooner Tordenskjold (1911). These vessels are used as platforms for a variety of public programs, ranging from tours and festivals to restoration workshops and vocational training.

A museum ship, also called a memorial ship, is a ship that has been preserved and converted into a museum open to the public for educational or memorial purposes. Some are also used for training and recruitment purposes, mostly for the small number of museum ships that are still operational and thus capable of regular movement.

In 2006 her masts were removed for safety reasons.[ citation needed ]

In early 2009, it was announced that Wawona would be towed to a dry dock to be dismantled on March 2. Some of the vessel's features were preserved as museum pieces. [5]

Wawona was hauled to the Lake Union Drydock on 4 March 2009 and was dismantled. The only remaining West Coast lumber transport sailing ship is C.A. Thayer , which is in San Francisco, as of 2018 completing a multimillion-dollar, multi-year restoration by the National Park Service. [6]

See also


  1. National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  2. "Landmarks and Designation". City of Seattle. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  3. "Landmarks Alphabetical Listing for S". City of Seattle. Retrieved 2007-12-28.
  4. "Historic Naval Ships Association profile of Wawona" . Retrieved 2009-02-25.[ not in citation given ]
  5. "Last voyage near for Wawona". The Seattle Times . 25 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  6. "Fate of the Lumber Schooner Wawona". Puget Sound Magazine. Retrieved 2012-08-09.

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