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Monday, November 13, 2006

Public Invited to Recall 1906 Maritime Disaster

Seattle and Bainbridge Island historical societies will mark the 100th anniversary of Puget Sound’s worst maritime disaster with wreath-laying ceremony in Elliott Bay. On November 18, 1906, 42 men, women and children commuting from Seattle to Port Blakely on Bainbridge Island drowned when the cargo vessel Jeannie collided with the steamer Dix 1.3 miles north of Alki Point. Thirty-five of the 77 passengers and crew survived. The bodies of the victims, trapped in the Dix’s cabin, were never recovered. The vessel still lies at the bottom in 600 feet of water.

“Every day, thousands of ferry commuters, blessed with one of the safest passenger fleets in the world, pass over the graves of these ordinary people without knowing it,” says John Kelly of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which operates the Log House Museum. “Our ceremony is a way of honoring their memories and the loss to their families and communities so long ago.”

The Log House Museum, the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, the Bainbridge Island Historical Society, and the Sea Scouts have organized the ceremony, which is scheduled for noon on Saturday, November 18, 2006. Everyone is invited to join representatives of the sponsoring organizations to board an Argosy Cruises vessel on Seattle’s central waterfront for the brief trip to the collision site. The Sea Scout’s vessel Yankee Clipper will be on station to mark the final resting place of the Dix and her lost passengers. The ceremony will include a wreath-laying. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has proclaimed the date as “Dix Remembrance Day.” Passengers on state ferries traveling near the site will hear a brief announcement of the anniversary throughout the day.

The Dix sinking was the second worst transportation disaster in Washington State history, exceeded only by the 1910 Wellington train disaster at Stevens Pass, which killed 96 passengers. The loss of the Dix sparked a federal investigation of passenger safety in the “mosquito fleet,” the numerous small vessels which preceded the modern ferry system. Local newspapers covered every aspect of the disaster, including profiles of the victims, an attempt to raise the Dix, and testimony in the investigation by the Dix’s captain, who never piloted a passenger vessel again. Here's the details on the event:
  • Event: Dix Remembrance Day Wreath-Laying Ceremony
  • Date/Time/Location: Nov. 18, 2006, noon, one mile north of Alki Point in Elliott Bay
  • Reservations: To reserve a place, call the Log House Museum, 206-938-5293. Argosy Cruises requests a discounted contribution of $10 per passenger to cover costs.
  • Boarding/Departure/Return: Boarding begins 11:00 a.m. at the Argosy Cruises facility, 1101 Alaskan Way (Pier 55), Seattle; departure 11:30 a.m.; return to Argosy Cruises 12:30 p.m.

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