When Tom Crean spent Independence Day in Seattle
On July 4th, 1897, the population of Seattle, USA, the gateway port to Alaska, were revelling in the festivities of Independence Day.
The Independence day activities took place just two weeks before the Klondike Gold Rush stampede, in which 100,000 people tried to make their way through Alaska to the Yukon region of North West Canada where the potential for great wealth awaited.
A year before, a pioneering prospector, had announced he’d discovered the precious nuggets and the announcement would spark a rush of treasure seekers heading north
In the harbour at Schwabachers Wharf, among the attractions awaiting the throngs of people descending on the city, was the USS Oregon. The white battleship, among the first of its kind, built just a year earlier for the United States Navy, would welcome excited crowds aboard to tour its decks and meet the crew.
Crean’s first seagoing assignment on HMS Wild Swan
Moored nearby was a rather less impressive vessel, HMS Wild Swan, described as being ‘hopelessly obsolete’ and ‘altogether out of date’, before she’d set out for the Pacific Station three years earlier. The three masted Iron Screw Steamer included among her crew, a novice sailor who was likely enjoying shore leave to witness the festivities in what would have been welcome relief after a trying first seagoing mission that exposed him to a number of experiences that would help mould the legend he was destined to become.
The photo above, taken in Seattle on Independence Day, 1897, shows the harbour awash with people and it’s just possible that among the indistinct figures and faces here, is the 20-year-old Tom Crean.
It’s strange to imagine Crean serving out a very eventful pre-Antarctic career across the globe but his time travelling on missions that extended the length of the Americas, the South Pacific Islands and his time later in Australia, New Zealand and it’s nearby islands, formed an important seven-year period of his life that I’ve now chronicled.
Discover the story of Tom Crean in a fully referenced account that gave rise to official corrections of previous accounts of his life. ‘Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero,’ is a fresh examination into the life of one of Ireland’s great heroes and contains newly discovered information and events that were never before published.
For children too, wishing to learn the story of Tom Crean, there is the fully-illustrated book ‘Tom The Mighty Explorer’ – a 132-page account written specifically for children aged 6-10 years-old.
To learn more about the books and where they can be purchased visit https://tomcreanbook.com/about-the-book/