Pike had taken the land between Lake Washington and Lake Union in payment for painting the Territorial University. He soon gave up the project (he was digging by himself with a pick and shovel) and deeded the land to the Lake Washington Canal Company in 1871. He was one of the incorporators of this firm.
This firm did not build a canal but rather a quarter mile long tramway (narrow gauge railway) over which coal transferred from Lake Washington barges was carried to Lake Union barges.
These rails were torn up in 1878. Chinese labor hired in 1883 by David Denny (1832-1903) and Thomas Burke (1849-1925) dug the second Montlake Cut.