"What became of the ships of yesteryear?
To what haven have disappeared the pleasure vessels that residents of Puget Sound country used to board for their Sunday excursions in the days before the automobile?
One answer was at the Lake Washington Shipyards at Houghton, which became almost a graveyard for an obsolete or obsolescent craft that formerly proudly plied the waters of Puget Sound in a day that is gone.
Victims of men's changing habits, changing whims, and political views and of mechanical progress, these once gay ships, formerly brightly painted and kept spic and span, were tied up, many of them apparently for the last time, with a few that were still in good condition, waiting new uses for which they were still fit.
Not only the coming of the automobile, the motor truck, the new streamlined ferry and modern freight boat, has helped to consign these once fine ships to oblivion.
The passing away of such social and economic theories as prohibition has also helped to put an end to the usefulness of some of the old steamers.
Such was the City of Victoria, which in its heyday plied between Edmonds and Victoria, to carry thirsty passengers beyond the boundaries of the USA for week-end revelries where bootleggers did not flourish.
Built in the gay nineties––in 1893 to be exact––at Sparrow Point, MD, the Victoria ran up and down the Chesapeake Bay for many years, until she was brought to Puget Sound for the Victoria run. Many a Seattleite will remember her and will recall pleasant voyages to a more liberal environment during the days before repeal in this steamer's elaborately decorated salons, with their scrolled woodwork and carved finishing, reminiscent of the period when she was first built. Now the City of Victoria wastes away in the wind and weather among her sister ships of another day.
The Indianapolis, which once cut the waves between Seattle and Tacoma, and came around the Horn from the Great Lakes before the Panama Canal was completed and before the AYP Exposition in Seattle, was tied up not far from the City of Victoria.
Built in 1904 in Toledo, Ohio, the Indianapolis piled between Seattle and Tacoma for many years. She was converted later into a ferry and served on other Sound runs until the new diesel ferries put her in her place at last.
There is the old Sol Duc, built in Seattle in 1912 for the run to Port Angeles. She was retired from service in 1935 after the Sound ferry strike, and after the motor truck had replaced her as a freight carrier, and the modern ferry boat had made her obsolete for the passenger trade.
Others are the Hyak, once familiar to travelers across the Sound to Poulsbo and Liberty Bay, and the Kulshan, built in 1920 for the service between Seattle and Bellingham.
Still serviceable for many purposes, but awaiting a buyer, was the sturdy little ship Mohawk (ex-Islander) that used to run from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. She was tied up at the shipyards since the ferry strike of 1935. In the similar case was the Atalanta, built in Tacoma in 1913 for service between that city and North Bay, Case Inlet and Longbranch, later familiar on the run to Whidbey Island.
Ghostliest of all the boats at the yard was the old Morning Star, a mere shell waiting for final disintegration. She was out of service for at least 20 years, but in her more prosperous times ran between Seattle and British Columbia points in the service of Frank Waterhouse.
Others at the Lake WA yards include the old West Seattle ferry, the Oregon, once in the Alaska service, the Beeline and Airline, Quilcene, Comanche, the Washington of Everett, and the Einar Beyer of Wrangell." From the Seattle Times, 1938.
- Saltwater People Historical Society
- San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
- A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.
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