1905: ‘Defensive Mines Are to Be Placed In Puget Sound’

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Seattle Times, Sept. 22, 1905 

Defensive Mines Are to Be Placed In Puget Sound

Members of Government Torpedo Defense Board Now Making Tour of Inspection to Map Out the Locations
Equipment Brought to Coast During the Spanish War and Stored Near Fort Ward Will Be Used About Sound 
Patrol Boat, to Manned by an Expert Crew of Mine-Layers, Will Probably Be Built for Use on the Coast

defensive-minesTo map out locations on Puget Sound for mines and
torpedo stations, the torpedo defense board, consisting of Col. Murray, of the Artillery Corps; Major Roessler of the Engineer Corps, and Capt. McCloskey, of the Artillery Corps, convened in Seattle late yesterday afternoon to prepare for a trip of inspection of the Sound in the vicinity of Seattle.

The government steamer Cartwright was placed at the dis
posal of the board this morning and the officers left for a three days’ trip about the Sound. The Cartwright will con
vey the members of the board to Agate and Deception Passes and through other bodies of water as far north as Fidalgo Island. On their return the members of the board will go to Portland, from which point a similar examination of the artillery district of the Columbia will be made.

It is understood that a vast number of mines not containing explosives will be placed in position before the end of the year. Torpedo stations will be established on the shore, where batteries controlling the mines will be placed. The mines will be anchored and left for a time to see how they are affected by the various currents.

Half Million Mines

It is understood that mines and torpedoes costing the government in the neighborhood of $500,000 are now stored near Fort Ward. They were sent to the Sound when the war with Spain broke out in 1898. After the board decides on the locations the mines will be placed under the direction of the officers of the Coast Artillery district. Col. Murray is the expert on placing mines and is in charge of a government school in the East where officers are trained in laying mines and making repairs of changes when necessary.

The government has a patrol boat on the Atlantic Coast which visits the various artillery districts every few months. The members of the crew are all experts in the work of laying mines. Quartermaster Grant said this morning that he understood a steamer about 150 feet long would be built for the Pacific Coast.

To Build Torpedo Stations

The members of the board will return to Seattle about Sunday. They will leave immediately for Portland. When mines are located near the forts the batteries will be placed there. In and about Deception Pass it is likely the board will establish several torpedo stations, to be in the charge of officers. The wires connecting mines will be taken to the stations on shore.

At the present time there are no mines on Puget Sound, and it is the purpose of the members of the torpedo defense board to map out the entire district while here. Quartermaster Grant says that it is likely the mines will be placed by the end of the year.

– Sept. 22, 1905, The Seattle Times