Posted by: wadahp | March 31, 2011

HARVEST FROM THE SEA: FISHING PIONEERS (no. 12)

Harvest From The Sea

Fishing Pioneers

View of: Native American women preparing a salmon bake for Makah Day feast on the beach at Neah Bay, ca. 1955. Source: Washington State Library, Digital Collections.

Native Americans had formed livelihoods and traditions around the ocean’s bounty, particularly salmon, long before Euro-Americans came to the Northwest. However, by 1853, a local newspaper reported that several pioneer anglers were catching salmon at Point Roberts.[1] Indeed, fishing quickly became one of the primary industries for the settlers. Washington Territory’s first floating cannery began operations in 1867 with a brick furnace and an iron cauldron. It was a one-man business, namely that of former shipwright S. W. Aldrich. Mr. Aldrich caught his own fish and even made his own cans. Canning advances in the 1870s prompted more formal packing operations. V. T. Tull started to pack salmon in 1873 at Mukilteo, and four years later, the Jackson-Meyers Company opened the first Puget Sound cannery. The Northern Pacific Railroad’s completion helped expand the fish and shellfish export business by facilitating the shipment of fresh products back East. Mergers and corporate investment in the fish processing industry in Washington grew exponentially during the c1890s.[2]

View of: Historic view of a purse seiner crew hauling up the net. Source: Washington State Progress Commission, published in Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State, 1950.


[1] H. M. Corning, The New Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State (Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1950), 83.

[2] H. M. Corning, The New Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State (Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1950), 83-84.

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