"The Liberty Bay Transportation Co, known locally as the "Farmer's Line" gave serious competition to Kitsap County Transportation Co. with their steamers the ATHLON, MAGNOLIA, VERONA, and the LIBERTY.
Warren L. Gazzam and his associates of KCTC decided to build a very fast steamer that the "Farmer's Line" could not compete with, and as a result, an order was placed with Joe Supple, Portland, OR for a vessel to be known as the KITSAP II.
The new vessel was of striking appearance with her flush cabins and two funnels, all very well proportioned.
As beautiful as the KITSAP II was, her crowning jewel was her power plant, a four-cylinder triple expansion engine that ran with the precision of a fine watch. The Curtis engines that Joe Supple obtained to power the KITSAP II gave very fine service throughout the life of the vessel. Steam was supplied by two Seabury boilers with a pressure of 340 pounds per sq. inch.
Original photo from the S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.
On arrival at Seattle from her builders, Capt. Alf Hostmark took over as master of the KITSAP II with Ole Hansen as Chief Engineer. There was quite a bit of talk about the speed of the new boat. Joe Supple claimed that she would make 22-mph. Mr. Gazzam claimed to have the fastest steamer on Puget Sound and it is said he offered PSNC a $1,000 bet that the KITSAP II could beat the TACOMA. PSNC paid no attention to this offer, but evidently tiring of what they were hearing, gave Capt. Everrett B. Coffin of the TACOMA the word to take the KITSAP II. The writer has been told the story of this race by three men in the TACOMA who were there––Capt. Coffin, Carl Williamson, one of the engineers, and Peter Christiansen, quartermaster. All told the same story, about how the TACOMA backed out of Colman Dock and laid there waiting for the KITSAP II to come out. When the KITSAP men saw the TACOMA waiting, they realized their bluff had been called and they had better get going. The KITSAP II not only was given a chance to get underway but was given a fairly long lead before Capt. Coffin "hooked" the TACOMA on.
Elliott Bay, Seattle, WA.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S©
Click image to enlarge.
When put into service on the Sea-Poulsbo route, the KITSAP II proved to be a disappointment to her owners, not that she did not come up to expectations or failed in her performance, but she was large enough to be unhandy on her landings. Her revenue did not justify the increased operating costs over the earlier steamers. After trying for a year to make a success of the KITSAP II, she was sold to the Navy Yard Route and placed on that run. This was one of the few mainline routes on the Sound and the KITSAP II settled down to show everyone what a fine and dependable vessel she was, making the run to Bremerton in 55 minutes. The KITSAP II ran to that city for many years with an occasional side trip, now and then.
The year 1926 came along and with it the demand for a different type of transportation, the auto ferry. This put an end to the service that had been so successfully performed by the little KITSAP II.
She was rebuilt that year into an auto ferry and renamed CITY OF BELLINGHAM. Sponsoned out, the only recognizable features were her cables, wheelhouse, Texas and two stacks. PSNC ran her between Bellingham and Sidney, BC making two round trips daily with a stop at Orcas.
|S.S. CITY OF BELLINGHAM (left)|
Awaiting her turn behind the
S.S. CITY OF ANGELES
to depart the Orcas Landing.
San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Original undated photo from the S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.
Most of this period she was under the command of the justly famous Capt Sam Barlow, the dean of the San Juan County skippers.
In 1929-1930, Capt. Alexander Peabody, who was one of the most progressive steamship operators that Puget Sound ever had, had the KITSAP II rebuilt, this time renaming her QUILCENE. The passenger accommodations in the QUILCENE were exceedingly well planned and very fine, providing every comfort that could be desired by the passenger. She still retained her original engine and according to Capt. Asmund Rindal, who commanded her when the writer sailed in her, she could make close to 14 knots.
When the QUILCENE was placed on the Pt. Townsend run after her rebuilding, it was under the command of Capt. Allen P. 'Paddy' Burneson.
In 1933, Cap. Asmund Rindal took the QUILCENE into Colman Dock in Seattle, where her final rebuilding took place. The house was raised in order to give clearance to allow trucks aboard.
The writer was in the QUILCENE two winters on this run with Capt. Rindal as master. During this time, she made what is believed to be her quickest passage from Edmonds to Pt. Townsend, which was one hour and 32 min.
In 1938, the necessary truck clearance was such that she was replaced by the double-ended ferry KLAHANIE that had come up from San Francisco.
From then on the QUILCENE was run on occasional excursions, used as a spare boat, until she was taken over by the USN in 1942. Five years later she was sold to Freeman & Gibson in Seattle for conversion to a floating machine shop.
Many of the top men in steam-boating spent some very enjoyable times in the KITSAP II (ex-CITY OF BELLINGHAM, ex-QUILCENE), such as Captains Alfred Hostmark, Louis Van Bogaert, Wally Mangan, Sam Barlow, Asmund Rindal, Greg Mangan, Harry Owens, and many others. Three of the men in charge of her engine room were Ole Hansen, First Chief Engineer; Ernie Shelgren and Al Grady, who went on to become Port Engineer for PSNC and later Outside Super for Todd Shipyards. "
Above text by Wilbur B. Thompson for The Sea Chest, membership journal of the Puget Sound Maritime Society in Seattle, WA. December 1979.