Official Number: 224849 Radio Call Number: WA6847 Built: Lake Washington Shipyard, Houghton, WA, 1925. Hull: Wood.
Length: 165' 7" Beam: 50' 5" Draft: 9' Auto Deck Clearance: 11' 3" Speed: 9 Knots Horsepower: 600 Propulsion: Washington Estep Diesel. Autos: 95 (1920's) 32 (1960
Passengers: 325 Gross Tonnage 525
Name Translation: Kitsap was a war chief and medicine man under Chief Sealth (Seattle). The name translates to "brave." Kitsap County is also named after him.
A winter day breaks calm over the Kitsap as she sailes between Vashon and Harper. Author's collection.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Sank under tow in Alaska, 1966
| One of the few companies seriously giving the Puget Sound Navigation Company (Black Ball Line) a run for its money in the 20's and early 30's was the Kitsap County Transportation Company. It looked as if they'd keep it that way too, when a series of new ferries took to the water starting in 1925.
The first of the near sister ferries was the Kitsap, launched in 1925 from the Lake Washington Shipyard at Houghton. The Kitsap was (as her sisters would be as well) every bit a product of Washington State: from the Washington fir that made up her hull and superstructure, to her Washington Estep diesel engine.
The ferry was "square built", essentially a box on a hull with a raised deck on top of which was built the passenger cabin. On the texas deck were the wheelhouse and crew quarters.
The design allowed for six lanes for cars--about a hundred of 1920's sized cars, and about 800 passengers. At a speed of 12 knots, the Kitsap was one of the most versatile ferries built at that time.
She began work on the Fauntleroy-Vashon route, but in 1930 was switched over to the Suquamish-Ballard run. Five years later, in November of 1935, a labor strike forced KCTC to sell out to PSN. The Kitsap and her two sisters were painted in the colors of PSN and raised the Black Ball flag from their masts.
The ferry remained on the Suquamish-Ballard run until 1938, when PSN sent her to the Mukilteo run. She stayed there for two years then moved up to the Port Townsend-Keystone route in 1940. In 1941 she went back to Mukilteo where she would work until the end of WWII. Between 1947-49 she was assigned to the Point Defiance-Tahlequah route.
She started work for Washington State Ferries in 1951, assigning the Kitsap to the new Lofall-Southpoint route across Hood Canal. By this time the size of cars had greatly expanded, and the Kitsap could only carry about 30 cars. Her passenger cabin was also only certified for a little over 300.
Still, she could do a days work and sailed the route on Sundays to help out the Rhododendron and daily during the summer months. With the Hood Canal bridge completed, however, there was no use for the ferry any more. WSF put her up for sale.
The Oregon highway department bought her and put her to work on the Columbia River between Megler, Washington and Astoria, Oregon.
When the bridge over the Columbia was completed in 1966, the Kitsap was out of job once again. The Oregon work proved to be her last outing as a ferry though. Purchased to be used as a cannery in Alaska, she sank while under tow and could not be recovered.
In 1979 WSF christened a new ferry Kitsap--honoring not only the county and chief of the same name, but also the auto ferry that had given so many years of reliable service.
|The Kitsap at one of her later assignments--extra service on the Lofall-Southpoint run. Author's collection. At right, rar from home waters, the Kitsap is shown here in 1964 crossing the Columbia River. Courtesy of Cliff West.|
|to the SHASTA
It didn't matter how small the ferry--every last one of them was made into a bilboard for the Seattle World's Fair in 1962. The Kalakala was the most famous example, but it was NOT the only ferry to carry the logo as some have suggested. The clipping here, showing the Kitsap, and several photos throughout the site are ample proof of that!