In 1889 J. S. McMullen, age 55, pulled up stakes and went out West. He had spent most of his life in Michigan but perhaps he was enticed to start a new life by word of the rich natural resources of the Seattle area. McMullen brought his wife and four adult children, and the family became business leaders in the Fremont neighborhood.
When the Lake Washington Ship Canal was constructed in 1911-1917, people hoped that the canal would benefit Seattle’s business environment. It was difficult to foresee, however, all that might happen, and what would be the actual impact of the canal work. In the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Waldo B. Staples found that the new, deeper and wider canal caused problems at first, but then unexpectedly the canal created a new means of livelihood for him.
Before the present-day ship canal at the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, there was a smaller, hand-dug channel. It had been used for sending logs to mill, and small boats could travel in the canal. Prior to the completion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal in 1917, no neighborhood-boundary distinction was made as to the south side of the canal at Fremont, so the address of Carl Signor’s Grocery and Feed Store was listed as in Fremont.
The news of Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, was carried by newspapers all over the USA. The story of the pioneer City of Seattle which heroically resolved to rise from the ashes and rebuild after the Fire, attracted opportunity-seekers in business, real estate investment and many other fields. One of the newcomers in Seattle immediately after the Fire was Charles E. Remsberg, age 26, of Indiana.
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.
Seattle’s Ship Canal crosses the city like a waistline, joining the freshwater Lake Washington to the waters of Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean beyond. The building of the Ship Canal in 1911-1917 was one of the biggest events in the history and development of Seattle, creating economic opportunities and advantages for maritime and for industries of all kinds.
The 2016-2017 centennial year of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks) is being celebrated with a wonderful series of events and historic research projects. A special website, Making the Cut, features all the historic info and event announcements commemorating the Ship Canal Centennial.