Anderson, John Conrad "Jack," Sr.
1899-1994 | Ship Captain, Dock and Tugboat Fleet Owner
Captain John "Jack" Anderson Sr., known as "Cap'n Jack," and his son, John “Jack” Anderson Jr., founded Cook Inlet Tug & Barge, Inc. in 1952. In 1938, Anderson and young Jack Anderson Jr, were operating the Cook Inlet mail and cargo run to Anchorage. They eventually built a booming family-owned tugboat business and a dock at the Port of Anchorage, which became Alaska’s largest commercial port. For four generations, the Anderson family has guided ships through upper Cook Inlet and into Anchorage's harbor. The harsh environment of upper Cook Inlet has the second most extreme tides in North America, problematic glacial silt in the water, and a strong current. In 2011, Cook Inlet Tug & Barge, Inc. was sold to Foss Maritime Company, a Seattle-based company with the country's largest fleet of coastal tugs and barges. Cook Inlet Tug & Barge continued to operate as an independent subsidiary, with ten employees, and three tugs and one barge. Two members of the family, Captain Katrina Anderson and her brother, Garrett Anderson, continue the legacy of their great-grandfather, Captain John “Jack” Anderson Sr. by guiding boats through the silty waters of upper Cook Inlet.
The patriarch of the sea-going Anderson family, Captain John "Jack" Conrad Anderson, was born on August 11, 1899 in Bergen, Norway, the eldest son of Henry Anderson and Hannah Anderson. He grew up in Grays Harbor, Washington, where his father worked as a logger. He was nine years old when he served before the mast on a voyage to Australia on his father's square-rigger.
In 1924, after service in the U.S. Navy during World War I and, later, in the Merchant Marine, John “Jack” Anderson arrived at Seldovia, Alaska, at the mouth of Cook Inlet. He came to Alaska to fish, but fishing was not paying well. He noticed the need for a shipping service and starting an operation in Seward. He operated a mail, freight, and passenger service from Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound ports to Kodiak, Dutch Harbor and other outposts on the Aleutian Chain, and from Seward and Seldovia to various Cook Inlet communities. In 1934, he acquired the mail boat Princess Pat, a yacht formerly used to convey wealthy hunting parties to Alaska, and operated up and down Cook Inlet carrying mail and passengers. In July 1938, the Seward Gateway advertised that Anderson & Sons Transportation was running between Seward and Anchorage. The family moved to Anchorage in 1938.
At some point, John “Jack” Anderson married Helen Imogene Hampton who was born in Palisade, Colorado, in 1901. He and Helen had a son, John "Jack" C. Anderson, Jr., who was born in Seattle in 1923, and a daughter, Dorothy, born in 1929.
Young John “Jack” Anderson Jr. was introduced to deep-water sailing at the age of nine, when he accompanied his father on a trip from Cook Inlet to Dutch Harbor. The younger "Jack" received his captain's papers when he was fifteen, and was recognized by Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not! (a widely syndicated newspaper cartoon panel) in 1939 as the youngest captain in the country with his own boat. Young "Jack" was qualified for one thousand tons in any waters.
The operations of Anderson & Sons Transportation were interrupted during World War II when the U.S. Army requisitioned the Princess Pat and the U.S. Navy took their second vessel, the Monterey, a 110-foot ship with berths for sixty persons and a cargo capacity of sixty tons which had been a former government submarine chaser. "Jack" Jr. served in the U.S. Army’s Harbor Draft Detachment, Alaska Department, during the Aleutian Campaign as a chief warrant officer from 1942 to 1945. "Jack" Sr. sat out the war in Seattle, Washington.
After the war, Anderson & Sons Transportation started operations as Cook Inlet Tug & Barge, Inc., based in Anchorage. They expanded operations by carrying cargo between Cook Inlet and Puget Sound ports. They bought the Tiger, a retired U.S. Coast Guard cutter built in 1927, which was repowered and rebuilt as a tug. The two Andersons built their fleet to eight tugs and developed Anderson Dock, a cargo terminal in Anchorage. When larger companies such as SeaLand Services and Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) began bringing in 750-foot container ships in 1964 and 1965, Cook Inlet Tug & Barge, Inc. entered the ship-assist business, using the Pacific Wind, a 1,300-horsepower tugboat.
Captain John “Jack” Sr. retired in 1970. He sold four of his tugs to the Red Stack Line, and passed the balance of the fleet and equipment on to Captain John “Jack” Jr. They sold the Anderson Dock and Terminal to North Star Stevedoring and concentrated on the tugboat business.
Captain John “Jack” Jr. and Lois Erickson were married in 1943. They had three children, John “Jack” C. Anderson III, Annalee, and Carl “Andy.” In their youth, the third-generation Anderson boys were rapidly indoctrinated into the tugboat business, and they also became licensed tugboat captains. Their sister, Annalee, married James Hill and also remained in Alaska.
On October 19, 1964, two tankers, the Santa Maria, an American tanker, and the Sirrah, a Dutch tanker, collided off the Anchorage waterfront and burst into flames. The Sirrah was not badly damaged, but the Santa Maria became engulfed in seventy-foot high flames. The ill-fated Santa Maria was carrying a highly flammable cargo, mostly gasoline. Cook Inlet Tug & Barge regular crew members were off that day. Captain John “Jack” Jr. and his wife, Lois, were in the tug Westwind, which also caught fire. Lois took the controls while Jack put out the fire. They then went to the aid of the Santa Maria, which was drifting with the tide. Their seventeen-year old son, John C. “Jack” Anderson III, was in the Arctic Wind and rushed to the assistance of the Sirrah, getting some men off the ship. Captain "Jack" put the Westwind alongside the Santa Maria, turned the controls over to Lois, and assisted thirty-nine men off the burning tanker. The heat was so intense that the paint was blistering on the tug. All three members of the Anderson family received the Federal Maritime Administration’s Meritorious Service Medal. Members of the crew of the tanker, Santa Maria, were so grateful that they sent a letter to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. As a result, John “Jack” and Lois Anderson were awarded Carnegie Hero Fund silver medals. Their son, John “Jack” Anderson III, was awarded a bronze medal and a scholarship.
The third-generation Anderson men each opened their own tugboat service business, John “Jack” Anderson III in Seward, and Carl “Andy” Anderson in Anchorage. John “Jack” Anderson III was in charge of the Seward operations of Anderson Tug & Barge Company.
Helen I. Anderson died on December 5, 1951, in Seattle, Washington. Captain John "Jack" C. Anderson, Sr. died on September 24, 1994, in Seattle. They are interred at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in Seattle. They were survived by their son, John “Jack” C. Anderson Jr. Their daughter, Dorothy I. Anderson, died in 1946.
 Michelle Theriault Boots, “A Life on the Inlet,” Anchorage Daily News, August 4, 2013, B-1 and B-4; and “Fidley Watch – Changing of the Guard,” Pacific Maritime Magazine Online, January 2011, http://www.pmmonlinenews.com/2011/01/fidley-watch-changing-of-guard.html (accessed July 4, 2016).
 Henry Anderson, 1920 U.S Census, Grays Harbor, Washington, Aberdeen Ward 6, Enumeration District 74, page 9B, National Archives Microfilm Publication T625, Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Roll 1923, 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed December 3, 2012).
 “Cook Inlet Tug and Barge Celebrates 60 Years,” Special Supplement to Pacific Maritime Magazine, 2012, Jack and Helen Anderson file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 1, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK; Mary J. Barry, Seward, Alaska: A History of the Gateway City, Volume III: Growth, Tragedy, Recovery, Adaptation, 1924-1993 (Anchorage: Mary J. Barry, 1993), 99; and Obituary, Jack C. Anderson Jr., Anchorage Daily News, July 31, 1994, B-4.
 Helen I. Anderson, U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed July 6, 2016); and “Former Resident Dead in Seattle,” Anchorage Times, December 7, 1951, 4.
 Obituary, Jack C. Anderson Jr., Anchorage Daily News, July 31, 1994, B-4; and Mary J. Barry, Seward, Alaska: A History of the Gateway City, Volume III: Growth, Tragedy, Recovery, Adaptation, 1924-1993, 99.
 “Cook Inlet Tug and Barge Celebrates 60 Years,” Special Supplement to Pacific Maritime Magazine, 2012.
 Letter, Jack and Lois Anderson, Seattle, WA, to John Bagoy, n.d. attachment, 1, Jack and Helen Anderson file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 1, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK.
 “Cook Inlet Tug and Barge Celebrates 60 Years,” Special Supplement to Pacific Maritime Magazine, 2012; John Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 376-378; and Letter, crew members of the S.S. Santa Maria, to Mayor Elmer E. Rasmuson, Anchorage, AK, October 21, 1964, Jack and Helen Anderson file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 1, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK.
 Mary J. Barry, Seward, Alaska: A History of the Gateway City, Volume III: Growth, Tragedy, Recovery, Adaptation, 1924-1993, 99.
This biographical sketch of Captain John "Jack" Anderson Sr. is based on an essay which originally appeared in John Bagoy's Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 376-378. See also the Jack and Helen Anderson file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 1, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK. Photographs courtesy of the Anderson family. Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012. Note: edited, revised, and substantially expanded by Bruce Parham, July 7, 2016.
Preferred citation: Bruce Parham and Mina Jacobs, eds., “Anderson, John Conrad 'Jack' Sr.” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.
Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, www.cookinlethistory.org.