The Flyer

In 1905 the best and fastest way to get around Puget Sound was by passenger ferry. Before buses or automobiles, good old steam got you from Tacoma to Seattle in about 90 minutes. If you were coming from Shelton, you had the adventure of making a mid channel transfer from the steamer Simpson to the graceful Greyhound. It was decades before ground transportation could match the predictable schedules of the mosquito fleet between major cities and for smaller communities we still don’t come close.
For exhilaration, there was no substitute for the Flyer, a legendary, knife hulled steam cutter that made four trips a day between Tacoma and Seattle.When the prevailing Southwesterly summer winds were blowing she could make the Seattle trip in 70 minutes and on certain cold wintry days when the Northerlies were fierce, the Flyer could pull into Municipal Dock from Seattle in under an hour. Then we decided ferries had to carry cars and the whole ballet fell out of step.

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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