SS Roosevelt leads a marine parade through the Ballard locks to dedicate the Lake Washington Ship Canal on July 4, 1917.

  • By Patrick McRoberts
  • Posted 6/26/1999
  • Essay 1422
On July 4, 1917, for the dedication ceremonies of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the SS Roosevelt leads a marine parade of 300 commercial and pleasure craft through the Ballard locks to Lake Union and Lake Washington.

The Roosevelt was famous for transporting Admiral Robert Peary (1856-1920) on his North Pole expedition in 1909. Between February 5, 1916, and the July 4 dedication ceremonies, 17,000 vessels had already passed through the ship canal.

Although once envisioned as an access point to a new Naval base, the Ship Canal project, which connected Puget Sound, Lake Union, and Lake Washington, had been so long delayed that the base had already been built across the sound in Bremerton. In any case, naval ships soon became too broad across the beam to enter the larger of the two locks.

The locks were later renamed for General Hiram Chittenden (1858-1917), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer who championed construction of the Ship Canal.

Sources: Walt Crowley, National Trust Guide Seattle (New York: Preservation Press, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998); Passport to Ballard (Seattle: Ballard News Tribune, 1988); Don Duncan, Washington: The First One Hundred Years: 1889-1989> (Seattle: The Seattle Times, 1989), 37-38.
Note: This essay was corrected on June 28, 2013.

Related Topics:   Infrastructure | Maritime

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