Seattle Map 15 – Mosquito Fleet 1908

Doing some research on Puget Sound’s infamous Mosquito Fleet. I have been trying to locate the origin of the term. There doesn’t seem to be any consensus, though the earlier uses refer exclusively to military vessels. So far I have traced the usage of Mosquito Fleet back to 1777 and a letter written by Governor George Clinton (he uses Musquito instead of mosquito), in reference to fighting on the Hudson River. Benedict Arnold also commanded a Mosquito Fleet on Lake Champlain at this time. There are also references to Mosquito Fleets in the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

But my favorite discovery is this wonderful map from the August 22, 1908, Seattle P-I. We may think we have a good ferry system that carries people throughout Puget Sound but it certainly pales compared to the routes displayed on this map.

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Or consider that a 1901 P-I article lists 195 ports of call, quite a few of which I haven’t a clue as to their location. In the days before the automobile took over, the Mosquito Fleet ruled the transportation routes of our inland sea.

125 ports of call

2 thoughts on “Seattle Map 15 – Mosquito Fleet 1908”

  1. There’s a framed copy of this map aboard the Carlisle II, formerly part of the Mosquito Fleet and now serving as a Kitsap Transit foot ferry serving Bremerton and Port Orchard. The map is large and detailed, accompanied by a key that shows which company operated which route(s). It’s on an inner wall on the port side of the vessel, which is also very much worth seeing. I believe it’s the only remnant of the Fleet that remains a working ferry.

    p.s. The “name” and “email” fields on your comment form are unlabeled, which could cause confusion among readers unused to commenting on blog posts.

    1. Jennet, Thanks for your comment. I have seen that map on the Carlisle II, which is such a beautiful boat. You are correct that it is the only Fleet vessel still working as a ferry. The other Fleet vessel is the Virginia V, which operates out of Lake Union, primarily for tours. David

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