The San Francisco Bridge Company

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Lockheed Martin’s legacy of supporting the United States Navy stretches back to before there even was a Lockheed Martin. In 1886, John McMullen hung up a sign in San Francisco advertising himself as “John McMullen, The Live Carpenter.” He found success building wharves, wooden docks, and sheds on the pier. In 1889 he partnered with two other men, Herman Krusi and George Catt, to form the San Francisco Bridge Company – relocated to Seattle – and the three men worked as “general waterfront contractors.” Many years later, these humble beginnings would become the Lockheed Shipbuilding Construction Company.

One of their early successes came in 1891, when the company won a contract from the United States government to help construct what would become the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, building an ordinance wharf and seawall. By 1898 the company was hard at work at Hull No. 1, the Governor Pingree, a 140-foot wooden paddle-wheel steamer that would make history in the annals of the Klondike gold rush, carrying miners seeking their fortune up and down the Yukon River. In 1899 the company’s name changed to the Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Company (PSB&D), and much of their business came from the construction of dipper and hydraulic dredges. Seattle’s Harbor Island was constructed in 1909 out of 24 million cubic yards of dredged earth, at the time the largest man-made island in the world, and it became the home of PSB&D’s own shipyard. In 1918 PSB&D went into the service of the United States government and built the largest wooden ship the world had yet seen, the Snoqualmie, at 330-feet in length. During World War II the company would continue to serve its country, building minesweepers and seaplane tenders for the United States Navy. By then the company name had been slightly altered to Puget Sound Bridge and Dry Dock Company.

In 1921, a young man named Horace McCurdy joined PSB&D as a timekeeper. He stayed with the company for 38 years, rising to become its president and chairman of the board. In 1959, McCurdy sold the company to the Lockheed Corporation, and in 1965 the company’s name was changed again, to Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company. From 1889 to 1988, when the shipyard was closed, more than 190 ships sailed from the Seattle shipyards, from four-masted schooners to wooden steamers to modern Navy warships. Technology changed, but what stayed the same was the attention to detail, importance of hard work, and willingness to look to the future that has been there since John McMullen hung a sign advertising his work in 1886.

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Sources and Additional Reading

  • Thompson & Levy – National Register of Historic Places Registration: Navy Yard Puget Sound/Bremerton Navy Yard
  • A Proud History. Lockheed Archives, 1965.
  • LSCC and How It Grew - A Look Back. North Star, 28 April 1972.
  • Walters, Ray: “LSCC Roots: Ships for a Gold Rush”, 1982.
  • Blay, Roy. Lockheed Horizons Issue 12, June 1983.
highlights
  • In 1889 the San Francisco Bridge Company – relocated to Seattle – was formed. Many years later,it would become the Lockheed Shipbuilding Construction Company.
  • One of the early successes came in 1891, when the company won a contract to help construct what would become the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
  • From 1889 to 1988, when the shipyard was closed, more than 190 ships sailed from the Seattle shipyards, from four-masted schooners to wooden steamers to modern Navy warships.

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