Inspector William Bird Goodell

Inspector William Bird Goodell

United States Department of the Treasury - United States Customs Service, U.S. Government

End of Watch Wednesday, December 16, 1863

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William Bird Goodell

Inspector William Goodell and Deputy Collector James Anderson drowned in Washington state during a severe flood that swept the Port Angeles Customs House from its foundation and into the Strait of Juan De Fuca.

The Customs House was located at the foot of Valley Creek. A log jam upriver broke free during a storm, causing the floodwaters to sweep into the valley.

Inspector Goodell had served with the United States Customs Service for only one week. He was survived by his wife and two children.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 1 week
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Drowned
  • Location Washington

Most Recent Reflection

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In the winter of 1863, a landslide in the Olympic Mountains created a huge reservoir above Port Angeles. On the night of December 16, 1863, the dam burst, sending a torrent of water through the town. The Customs House, a two story structure stood exactly in the path of the vast torrent of water, and overturned the structure, and swept it away in a moment. Of the three occupants of the Customs House at that time, Dr. Gun, the collector, was fortunate enough to be standing near the door, and was able to make his escape. His Deputy, Mr. J. W. Anderson and Capt. William Bird Goodell, the inspector, were overwhelmed inside the building, as it was swept into the Strait of Juan De Fuca. The men drowned in the collapsed building. The Makah Indians found the building and towed it ashore. The men's bodies were recovered. Burial information is unknown.

S. Schwartz

July 17, 2017

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