Peavey Sawmill – A bit of Beach Drive’s colorful past

It was about a year ago to the day that I ran into a local historian and West Seattle legend, John Kelly. John was responding to an inquiry I had made regarding an old pier that was once said to serve the Mosquito Fleet at Weather Watch Park.

Good afternoon

I’m responding to your inquiry to Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. I am a lifelong WS resident as were my parents and grandparents. I am 92, but cannot say I pesonally saw the Floating dock there. However, there are photos, as I recall, at the Log House Museum on 61st.
There is a mural at the WS Junction on the east wall of the Campbell Building, Callifornia and Alaska St.(alley)

My mother’s family camped at Rose Lodge around 1905 just a block or two north of Carrol St.
My father’s family camped about a mile south next to the Peavey Sawmill, which was on the shore between Juneau & Raymond Streets during the same period. Piling remnants are still visible there.

I personally met with John at his apartment in The Kenney to pour over research and photos he’d compiled over the years about the historic Beach Drive sawmill. At low tide, we drove down to the actual site where a local resident was kind enough to allow us access to the beach, where at 92, John had no issue climbing down the rocks and driftwood to the weathered remnants of south Alki’s first industry…

PeaveyC

Site of the Peavey Sawmill circa 1905-1925 near the 5200 block of Beach Drive SW. Mr Kelly is seen standing amongst the pilings that once managed the large log booms brought in from tugs.

 

Mr Kelly mentioned that his uncle owned a summer property alongside of the mill where they would erect platforms & tent shelters for family gatherings on the beach.  Check out the corrugated siding of a mill building behind this reunion of fine ladies.

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John’s Aunt Caroline Kelly Houghton & friends photo taken in 1907

 

Although not quite 100% sure, John believes this next photo is likely a taken out in front of the mill where his family would fish and boat

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This tract map of 1912 clearly shows the location of the mill and nearby streets

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Mr Kelly wrote a detailed essay regarding the mill for the SW Seattle Historical Society click here to read. Beyond the essay, I recall John telling me about horse stables located across the street from the mill. In the early evening, the horses would pull wagons of finished lumber north along dirt roads to the paved street and electric streetcar line south of Alki Point near Orleans Street. After hours when regular passenger service closed for the day, the trolly line would serve to transport lumber & other commercial freight to Duwamish Head where more conventional transportation could be arranged.

He also made mention of the narrow stairway leading down to the beach from where Juneau street intersects with Atlas. Bears were often seen eating berries along the hillside!

PeaveyJuneauStThe stairs down Juneau Street are long gone but a green belt still exists. Photo taken at the top of Atlas Street.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

 

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Comments

  1. Dan Rodina says:

    Thank you for sharing this fascinating history of our neighborhood!

    • Linda Layman says:

      I thank you also for helping me learn more about the Beach Drive history! Anyone know about the presence of Native Americans in our early history on Beach Drive?

  2. Dan Rodina says:

    I would also be interested in knowing more Beach Drive History. I suspect there were Native American (Summer) encampments at the base of S.W. Canada Drive and at Loweman park.

  3. Thank you very much

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