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Some history about Portage Bay & Roanoke Park

Portage Bay Recreation Area, Habitat & Heritage

The Bayshore building and marina are located on Portage Bay where paddle boarders, kayakers, rowers and other recreational boaters enjoy the area year round. The area is also a sanctuary for more than 80 bird species. Portage Bay was named in 1913 because of the portage across the Montlake Isthmus that was used during that time to move logs from Lake Washington’s Union Bay to Lake Union before construction of the Ship Canal. The bay is home to the Seattle and the Queen City yacht clubs, and many houseboats, as well as the Northwest Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the University of Washington & College of Ocean and Fishery Science.

A little history -- In 1860 the first ‘ditch’ was cut to connect Lake Washington & Union Bay and Lake Union & Portage Bay to move logs. The ‘ditch’ was replaced with a transiting rail line for ‘portaging’ logs and goods between the lakes. The Lake Washington Ship Canal project began in 1911 and was officially completed in 1934 -- connecting the fresh water body of Lake Washington with the salt water inland sea of Puget Sound via The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

Duwamish tribal leader Cheshiahud (also Cheslahud, Lake John Cheshiahud, or Chudups John) and his family lived and carved canoes in the 1880s on the shores of Portage Bay. His family were among the few of the Duwamish people who did not move from Seattle to the Port Madison Reservation or other reservations. They lived on Portage Bay, part of Lake Union, although native people had been prohibited from residence in Seattle since the mid-1860s. . According to the Duwamish Tribe, Lake John had a cabin and potato patch at the foot of Shelby Street (either West Montlake Park or Roanoke neighborhood, on Portage Bay). A commemorative plaque of unknown reliability is said to exist at the eastern foot of Shelby.

Shelby native american cultural park art
Dedication plaque to native american cul

This feature on the "ba-kground" blog was sent to us from Ingrid Lundin via her father, John Lundin. 


Roanoke Park and Seattle’s Broadway Streetcar

By Rob|Data


This history of streetcar service into the northern reaches of Seattle’s Capitol Hill was about three years in the making. I pieced it together through a general history of the Union Trunk Line, answering a few questions for Paula Becker while she wrote HistoryLink’s Roanoke Park history, gathering stuff to talk about while helping guide two Feet First stairway walks, and finally as an attempt to write a simple chronology of service to the Roanoke Park neighborhood. I’ve embellished that chronology here with a few illustrations and references to city ordinances or other sources for key pieces of information. I hope you find it interesting and useful.


Read the whole article here: 

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