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Catalog Number WF 0364
Caption Pile Driver for Fish Trap
Description Pile driver for fish trap. Canning companies built traps each spring on the windward side of islands, particularly Whidbey and some of the San Juan Islands. See also WF 0411. In 1905 alone, Anacortes canneries filed on 23 different locations on Whidbey Island. The traps stretched almost a mile from shore and consisted of a network of pilings, driven into the ground by pile drivers, with heavy mesh net strung between the pilings. People who grew up near the fish traps recall the rhythmic pounding of the pile drivers every spring as the traps were put in, and then the noisy sound of the pile driver as it pulled the traps up each fall. Anacortes' canneries would send their scows out to empty the spillers at the end of each trap, and at the height of the salmon run could pull in over six thousand fish per haul. The traps effectively trapped millions of salmon as they returned to spawn in Washington's rivers each summer. The 9-18-1896, ISLAND COUNTY TIMES reported, "Anacortes canneries have put in a fish trap on the west beach of the island just outside of Deception Pass. ... A fair run of salmon is reported there. As high as 5000 fish have been caught in a single haul." The next year, alarmed by the decline of one of the state's most valuable resources, the legislature attempted to abolish them in order to protect the fish runs. Fishing interests helped defeat that 1897 attempt; not until the 1934 Initiative 77 passed would fish traps finally be outlawed. Piles drivers were an integral part of the fish trap process. The 3-21-1901, ANACORTES AMERICAN reported, "Work on Marine Craft." "Piledrivers and steamers are being repaired in marine yards near Rodgers Mill. Fidalgo Island Packing Company is having another monster piledriver built; will be known as F.I.1."
Date 1910 c.
Collection Wallie Funk Collection
Subjects Place - Anacortes, WA
Industry - Fishing
Credit line Donated by Wallie Funk, Wallie Funk Collection
Place Anacortes, WA
Search Terms pile driver
fish trap
Object Name Postcard