The Fremont neighborhood of Seattle began in 1888 as a named, planned real estate development. With its advantageous location at the northwest corner of Lake Union, Fremont grew rapidly. In addition to its location with access to natural resources like water, Fremont’s vitality can be attributed to its dynamic and enterprising early residents.
From earliest days, Fremont residents accessed the resource of water flowing westward out of Lake Union toward Puget Sound. One of the first Seattle settlers to see the advantages of the location was John Ross who had a homestead claim on the small creek.
The Outlet, or Ross Creek, as it became known, was gradually enlarged over the years to allow logs to be floated toward sawmills in Fremont and Ballard, and then out to Puget Sound where products could be loaded onto ships.
Fremont’s early residents continually advocated for a larger canal in place of the creek, though it took many years to see the plans finally go ahead. First a Port District was established by legislation in 1911, and then construction of the ship canal could begin, along with other waterways projects.
The Goddard family joins the Fremont community in Seattle
The Goddard family arrived from Iowa and settled in Fremont in 1888, making major contributions to building up the community. The Goddards’ business, Pacific Iron Works, created jobs, and the Goddards were quick to become involved in community activities such as opening a school in their home.
Pacific Iron Works, the Goddards’ Fremont foundry and machine shop, benefited from the business boom after the Seattle Great Fire of June 6, 1889 created an enormous demand for materials to rebuild the city. The Goddards prospered and were recognized as community leaders. In 1892 twenty-eight-year old Albert J. Goddard was elected as a delegate to represent Fremont (which had not yet become part of the City) at the Seattle City Council. Goddard was part of the move to annex Fremont, and he successfully advocated for the City’s water system and street lights to be extended to Fremont.
In 1894 A.J. Goddard was elected to the Washington State Legislature, where he made a significant contribution to the history of Fremont by passage of a bill for a ship canal.
Even though disputes about the proposed route of the canal would drag on for many more years, the bill which passed in the State Legislature in 1895 authorized King County to purchase and turn over to the federal government properties in the right-of-way for the present ship canal. The route of the proposed canal passed through Fremont, which would be very advantageous for business.
Celebrating the ship canal centennial in 2016-2017
After Gen. Hiram M. Chittenden of the Army Corps of Engineers affirmed the present canal route, construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal began in 1911. A.J. Goddard served on the Seattle City Council for a second time from 1908 to 1915, influential years during which the ship canal was being constructed, and Goddard continued to look out for the best interests of Fremont in the process of construction. The chosen route of the canal, passing through the Fremont industrial and maritime district, increased land values and caused a boom in the local economy.
The contributions of the Goddard family to the Fremont community were just one of many stories celebrated in the Centennial Year of the Lake Washington Ship Canal in 2016-2017. The Making the Cut 100 webpage has more resources, videos and maps telling the ship canal story in Seattle history.
Fremont Colleague newspaper, January 2, 1904. Microfilm, UW Library.
“Goddard House,” 916 N. 36th Street, Historic Resources Survey, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.
“Lake Washington Ship Canal,” HistoryLink Essay #1444 by Walt Crowley.
McKee’s Correct Road Map of 1894, Seattle Public Library Special Collections.
Polk’s Directory, City of Seattle — business and residential listings for the Goddard family, various years.
Seattle’s Fremont by Helen Divjak, Arcadia Publications, 2006.