Pontiac Bay SHINGLE MILL - 1884

Map is approximate on combining 4 maps on July 2, 2013
 (Vern Bouwman)

Typical Shingle Mill Layout but NOT THAT OF PONTIAC's

McMaster Shingle Mill, circa 1909 (From the collection of Priscilla Droge)   http://www.uplakekenmore.org/?page_id=34

In 1884 before the coming of the SLS&E Railroad, Osborn M. Merritt from Pontiac, Michigan, bought land on the shore of Lake Washington at about NE 75th Street.  There were two streams, one at about 75th and the other at about NE 80th, which emptied into a little bay.  The Merritts set up a shingle mill which they named the Pontiac Shingle Company.  There was no electric power yet, so it is possible that the mill, which had a circular saw blade used to split logs into shingles, was water-powered.  Water could be channeled into a chute and dropped onto a mill wheel whose turning would then power the saw blade.  Whether Pontiac Shingle Company used water or steam power for their machinery, the location on the bay with its streams probably was a pleasant place to live. It was very isolated because there was no road to Seattle, so products had to travel via boat on Lake Washington.

By about the same time that the SLS&E Railroad was completed along the shoreline in 1888, carpenter Edward F. Lee had set up a shipyard at Pontiac Bay, and he built boats to be used on Lake Washington.  The next industry to arrive near the Bay was a brickmaking company whose articles of incorporation were filed  in January 1889 by Seattle businessmen Thomas Burke, Morgan Carkeek and Corliss P. Stone. The first listing of the Pontiac Brick & Tile Company in the Seattle City Directory was in 1890, and the location was given as “Lee’s Stop, SLS&E Railroad.”  In 1891 the brick company location was listed in the directory at the Pontiac stop on the line, and maps made in the 1890’s showed the rail stop and the name of the bay as Pontiac.

Edward Lee, born in Norway in 1840, arrived at Seattle in 1883. Edward managed to get a job as a ship carpenter employed by Alexander Allen who operated Allen’s Ship Ways located next to the barrel factory in "North Seattle." At the time, North Seattle referred to the area that later became known as Belltown, separated from the main district of Seattle by Denny Hill.

By no later than the summer of 1886, Edward Lee struck out on his own and purchased land along the west shore of Lake Washington for a shipyard to build and repair ships plying the lake. This was called Lee’s place until in 1889 the Pontiac Brick and Tile Company established a brickyard nearby. The following year the Pontiac Post Office opened. In 1892, the U.S. Post Office Department appointed Edward Lee postmaster of Pontiac, a position he held for 17 years. Upon his retirement, the post office closed.

Judge Thomas Burke took advantage of the railroad boom which he had helped to create, by establishing his own businesses along the line.  With co-investors Morgan Carkeek and Corliss P. Stone, the men acquired property in Pontiac, on what is now Sand Point Way at about NE 70th Street.  The Pontiac Brick and Tile Company incorporated on January 2, 1889 and the timing couldn’t have been better: just five months later Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, created a huge demand for brick to rebuild the city’s downtown core.  It is interesting to note that the site of the Pontiac Brick and Tile Company, which closed in 1914, was later designated to become Carkeek Park, but the property was taken in 1920-1926 for the Sand Point Naval Air Station.  King County then compensated by transferring Carkeek Park to Piper’s Creek on Puget Sound in the Blue Ridge neighborhood.  http://wedgwoodinseattlehistory.com/2013/01/01/wedgwoods-trailmakers-the-burke-gilman-trail/

See: NAS Planning Aerial Study Map   Go to BASE PAGE,