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, which 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.
Goddard in the Washington State Legislature
In 1894 thirty-year-old 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.
Another noted activity of A.J. Goddard in the state legislature was sponsorship of a bill to restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages within a two-mile radius of the new (1895) University of Washington campus. This radius reached all the way over to Fremont so that Fremont’s leaders who were against alcohol, achieved their objective of making it impossible to establish any saloons in the neighborhood.
Goddard becomes a captain
After the Yukon Gold Rush began in June 1897, A.J. Goddard and some other businessmen formed the Upper Yukon Navigation Company to build and operate a sawmill between Whitehorse and Dawson, and a steamer to carry both lumber and passengers. Clara Goddard joined her husband on this adventure and became the first woman steamboat pilot in the North (she is pictured above on the deck of the steamer in 1898).
The Goddards had started their piloting while building their foundry in 1888 at the foot of Aurora Avenue in Fremont. Both Mr. & Mrs. Goddard had first learned to pilot a boat on Lake Union to carry lumber and other supplies to the foundry. Mrs. Goddard later used their boat to offer cruises on Lake Union as a fundraiser for her church, Edgewater Congregational on Whitman Avenue between 38th to 39th Streets.
The Goddards’ 1898 Yukon adventure was short-lived because a railroad built at Lake Bennett in the Yukon rendered the Goddard’s steamship no longer competitive. Ever after their Yukon year, he was referred to as Captain A.J. Goddard.
The Goddards sold their steamship in 1899 and returned to Seattle. The steamship subsequently sank in Lake LaBerge in the Yukon and was rediscovered in the year 2009. It is a registered historic site.
Celebrating the ship canal centennial in 2016-2017
After Gen. Hiram M. Chittenden of the Army Corps of Engineers affirmed the present canal route as the best option, construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal began in 1911.
Captain Goddard served on the Seattle City Council for a second time from 1908 to 1915. These were influential years during which the ship canal was being constructed, and Capt. 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 of the ship canal story in Seattle history.
Fremont Colleague newspaper, January 2, 1904. Microfilm, University of Washington Library in Seattle.
“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.
Yukon Register of Historic Places, A.J. Goddard shipwreck.