The Brig named Orbit
|The brig Orbit arrived at
Tumwater, Washington, in January, I850, coming
from San Francisco, where she was bought by Col.
Isaac N. Ebey, B. F. Shaw, E. Sylvester and S.
Jackson. They purchased her as a means of transit
to the country, and brought one passenger with
them. On reaching Tumwater they sold the brig to
Michael Simmons, who sent her to San Francisco in
charge of Captain Dunham. She next went on a trip
to the Columbia in command of Captain Butler, but,
meeting with difficulty on the bar, was abandoned.
She afterward drifted into Baker's Bay, and was
held for salvage by the Astorians. Simmons settled
with them, took her back to the Sound, and sold
her to J. H. Swan, H. A. Goldsborough and others.
They loaded her with piles and started her for the
Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), but she was disabled in
a gale on the Straits of Fuca and went into
Esquimalt (Southern tip of Vancouver Island),
where she was sold to the Hudson's Bay Company for
a thousand dollars. They renamed her and ran her
in the coast trade for several years.
Leonard & Green purchased the brig Orbit and
operated her in the Sandwich Island and China
trade, where she ran for several years in command
of M. C. Erskine. E. W. Wright, Puget Sound
Golden Days of Fraser River Navigation, Lewis
& Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific
Northwest. New York: Antiquarian Press, Ltd.,
The American brig, stranded on Sand Island inbound
from Puget Sound, March, 1850. Captain T. Butler
and his crew, fearing that the breakers would make
short work of the brig, abandoned her. Some
Astorians with an eye for salvage later boarded
the vessel and after herculean efforts succeeded
in getting her afloat. She drifted to Bakers Bay,
and was safely anchored. Michael Simmons, of
Newmarket, Washington, paid off the salvagers and
regained his vessel.
James A. Gibbs, Jr. Pacific Graveyard. A narrative
of the ships lost where the Columbia River meets
the Pacific Ocean. Portland: Binfords and Mort,
1950, p. 153-190
Murray C. Morgan, Puget's Sound. P. 78-79.
Stranded on Sand Island in March of 1850 but
refloated. Gibbs, Pacific Graveyard, p. 175.
Dryden's History of Washington. 1968., p. 115.
First American vessel from Puget Sound. North
Pacific History Company. History of the Pacific
Northwest, I, p. 335.
Clinton Snowden, History of Washington, the rise
and progress of an American State . History of
Washington., II, p. 451-52, 454.
James McCurdy, By Juan De Fuca's Strait., p. 53.
(1850), Sylvester, Ebey, and other investors
purchased the brig Orbit, Puget Soundís
first home-owned ship. The Orbit ran
pilings sawed by Michael Simmonsí mill to San
Francisco and returned with goods for the growing
He (Edmund Sylvester) had no
success in the California gold fields so
together with several other men, he purchased
the brig Orbit and sailed back to Budd
Inlet. He used the Orbit to travel
between Budd Inlet and San Francisco where he
purchased supplies to sell to the settlers on
Puget Sound, establishing the first general
In the winter of
1849-50, Messrs. Isaac N. Ebey, B.F. Shaw,
Edmond Sylvester, George Moore and Jackson
purchased the brig Orbit. She
arrived at Olympia January 1, 1850, when
Colonel M.T. Simmons purchased the interest
of Jackson. She loaded with a cargo of piles
for San Francisco. The Orbit was the
first American vessel hailing from and owned
at Puget Sound.
In 1851, the 154-ton brig Orbit
carried timber and shingles from the Sound
to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).
lumber trade was first opened on the
shores of Puget Sound by a single vessel
from San Francisco (the brig
"Orbit"), which obtained a load of piles at Budd's
Inlet. From that time on the settlements along the
shores and inlet of Puget Sound rapidly and
steadily increased. The lumber and fur trades had
much to do with inducing these early
Volume 11 - Publications of the Ohio State Archaeological
Historical Society - 1902
1850 - Olympiaís commerce by water began when the
brig, Orbit, arrived in the harbor from
California, where she had been purchased by
Sylvester, Ebey, and other Olympians with profits
from gold mining. She was the first sea-going ship
owned on Puget Sound. Pilings were loaded for San
Roger Easton, Olympia Historian (1938-2012)