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New Exhibit “Fish On!” Opening at The Center for Wooden Boats December 29th Explores the History of Boathouses and Fishing Resorts of Puget Sound

December 18, 2012

Seattle, WA [December 19th, 2012], On Saturday, December 29th and Sunday December 30th The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle is proud to open its newest exhibit, Fish On!, exploring the history of boathouses and fishing resorts of Puget Sound. The new exhibit will run through fall of 2013 in the Gallery in CWB’s Boathouse at 1010 Valley Street, in Seattle next to The Museum of History and Industry and Lake Union Park.

The new exhibit at CWB celebrates the unique period of Washington’s maritime history when major fishing derbies at resorts such as Cama Beach on Camano Island, and at Boathouses such as Point Defiance in Tacoma made heroes of a man or woman or child with a hand line, spoon, or bamboo pole and rented rowboat. CWB’s new exhibit records the stories, preserves the small watercraft, and shares images of the “glory days” of recreational salmon fishing in our region. The story of the development of Puget Sound communities can be told through how people interact with the waterfront.Boat from Rays on Seattle Waterfront, Photo Credit Washington State Historical Archives

“Warm memories of saltwater beaches and salmon fishing from small boats are etched on the memories of families throughout our region. Recreational salmon fishing in the early part of the last century was as much a cultural experience as a sport. Businesses, like boathouses, resorts, boats shops and tackle manufactures, that serviced western Washington’s love affair with salmon sportfishing drove local economies and buoyed entire communities,” said Betsy Davis, CWB Executive Director.  “We keep those experiences alive for people today with our programs at Cama Beach State Park, and now with this exhibit in the heart of Seattle. The story of the ‘boathouse era’ is an important chapter in our region’s history.”

CWB’s research into the history of Puget Sound’s Fishing Resorts and Boathouses is funded in part by a grant from The National Trust for Historic clip_image001[5]Preservation that is helping CWB expand the interpretation at its second location, at Cama Beach State Park. CWB at Cama Beach is one of the last of the dozens and dozens of resorts that used to dot the waters of Puget Sound.

The boathouses and resorts phenomenon peaked in the late 1950s. At nearly 200 rental operations, anglers gathered not just to rent boats, but to swap lies, compare fishing rigs, and make friends. Fishing was a social experience. By the mid-1960s private boat ownership, declining fish runs, more stringent regulations and televised sporting events combined to forever change the spirit of recreational salmon fishing in Puget Sound.

1957 Map of Washington Fishing Resorts, Photo Credit, The Center for Wooden BoatsThe new exhibit includes historic photographs of many well-known Puget Sound resorts and boathouses, the stories of the people who ran and visited them, as well as actual boats that were used at some locations. Resort boats will be available for public rides on Lake Union, others will be on display or undergoing restorations in the CWB floating boat shop. On Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th, there will be opportunities from 1p.m. to 5p.m. for kids to make paper models of some of the historic boats or of the salmon that fishermen were always looking for.



State Fishing Map Circa 1957, The Center for Wooden Boats Collection

The opening of The Center for Wooden Boats newest exhibit was specially timed to complement the grand opening of the Museum of History and Industry at its new location, the historic Naval Reserve Armory right next to CWB in Lake Union Park. The park will be bustling with food carts all weekend, and many of the historic vessels permanently moored, or visiting, the park will be open for tours.

The Center for Wooden Boats gratefully acknowledges Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants for its generous support for this exhibit. “Ivar’s has a rich history as a company,” said Andrew Washburn, CWB’s Manager of Historical Projects. “We’re thankful that the company also sees the value of supporting research and exhibits that help residents of the Northwest understand and reconnect with their maritime heritage.”

Cama Beach in the 30s, photo credit, Stanwood Camano Historical Society

Cama Beach Resort circa 1930’s. Photo Courtesy Stanwood Camano Historical Society


Cama Beach State Park Today. Photo courtesy The Center for Wooden Boats Collection

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2012 10:03 am

    Great article and photos. I live in Federal Way. I will have to make a trip up there. Thanks again for the imformation.

    • December 19, 2012 10:09 am

      You are more than welcome Richard. We’d love to welcome you at opening day, or any time. And thanks for supporting The Center for Wooden Boats.

  2. December 19, 2012 12:55 pm

    We really enjoy these historical looks at fishing. If you haven’t seen the movie “The Lost Coast,” you might enjoy it. The film tells the story of recreational salmon and steelhead fishing in norther California in the 50’s and 60’s. Sad stuff (the fisheries have all but disappeared), but well documented.

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