Our Seattle ferry cruise had taken us from Elliot Bay in downtown Seattle, up along the Puget Sound Coast to Shilshole Bay where we entered Lake Washington Shipping Canal.
Now we had to get through the Chittendon locks to raise our ferry up to the level of the lakes. Our final destination for this day was the docks at the south end of Lake Union.
I always have a sense of anticipation when approaching locks. These locks were built in 1917 … at the time creating the largest locks in North American enabling passage between two bodies of water of different levels.
When given our all clear, we sailed into the lock, tied off, water was pumped in through tubes at the bottom of the lock as we gradually rose to the lake water level… a difference of about 20 feet. The ship canal project began in 1911 and was officially completed in 1934.
Gate opens, ferry unties and we sail on through to the next stage of our cruise. It all takes about 15 minutes. It’s somewhat amazing to think that something like this stills exists in this day and age, but it works as it has done for a hundred years.
And on the other side we came to a busy small shipping area.
All types of marine transport were tied up in the safety of the canal.
Another bridge across the canal.
One of the many dry docks used for ship maintenance.
A newly painted fishing boat ready to go back out into the sound.
Tug boats to assist the bigger ships negotiate the canal.
And yet more bridges… the higher traffic bridge and a colourful train bridge.
Not all homes along the canal are inviting! This reminded us that in every city, there are those who do it tough in whatever shelter they can find.
Its always fascinating to look up to the superstructures of bridges, built to take millions of cars and trucks a year safely across the canal. Spare a thought for those who built them.
Gas Works Park is a large public access space on the northern side of Lake Union. It contains the remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the US… a plant that operated from 1906 to 1956. In 1962 the City of Seattle bought the plant and opened the park to the public in 1975.
As we cruised up the length of Lake Union, several sea planes flew overhead. They are an important link between Seattle and the islands including Vancouver Island in Canada.
A fascinating feature of Lake Union are the number of floating homes. They come in all shapes and sizes, some virtually indistinguishable from those built on land. While these home owners don’t pay real estate taxes, they do have to pay pay dock fees.
This floating home community is one of only a few in the United States… I know of one across the bay from San Francisco. Floating homes evoke a sense of romance and these, along the banks of Lake Union and Portege Bay, do offer a unique lifestyle. We were told that here, for the most part, neighbours are friendly and community minded and there’s a never ending kaleidoscope of things to watch such as wildlife, boats and seaplanes.
As we approached our dock at the end of our cruise, a seaplane prepared for takeoff.
Maybe it was going to Vancouver Island… that’s where we will go in the next post.
Jennie and David
All photographs copyright © JT and DY of jtdytravels
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