Southern Pacific Railroad built the M/V Stockton in 1927 part of a
trio that included sisters Lake Tahoe and Fresno. Though
mechanically the most advanced type of ferry in the world, they were
built using old fashioned methods, which included riveting the hull.
While the hulls and superstructure were made of steel, the car deck
was made of timber as was the passenger cabin, wheelhouses and crew
By 1938 the majority of ferries on San Francisco Bay were idled.
Southern Pacific-Golden Gate attempted to hold on until 1940, but by
then it was obvious that the era of the ferryboat was over. The vessels
were offered for sale, and were sold to Captain Alexander Peabody's
Puget Sound Navigation Company (Black Ball Line) in 1940. The
vessels were all towed north to start their careers on Puget Sound.
Stockton became Klickitat, and started work on the
Edmonds-Kingston-Port Ludlow route with the Nisqually. Both vessels
stayed on this run from about 1941 until the Port Ludlow route was
dropped in 1950 with the opening of the Lofall-Southpoint run.
The State of Washington took over ferry operations in 1951,
sending the Klickitat up to the San Juan Islands where she would remain
for the next 30 years. She was replaced as the Sidney ferry in 1965.
The Steel Electric ferries were modernized beginning in the late
1950's. All the boats had their decks sponsoned out eight feet. The
passenger cabins were modernized though still made out of wood. The
car deck was plated over with steel and the wooden railings on the
promenade deck outside the passenger cabin were replaced with steel
The ferry received a gold band on her smokestack in 1977 when
the entire class turned 50 years old. It was at this time WSF made the
decision to refurbish the class once again.
The Klickitat was the first to be rebuilt, and although she benefited
from some lovely oak paneling in the passenger cabin, the rebuild of the
passenger cabin on the whole was poorly executed. Perhaps the
biggest mistake was replacing the observation room at either end of the
passenger cabin with an outside shelter deck. The area that had once
been a gracefully curved room with windows facing Puget Sound was
instead filled by the crews quarters.
In addition, the ferry was not retrofitted with an elevator as the
others in the class would be.
Amazingly, even though the ferry hadn't met current safety
standards since the 1950's, when returned to service in 1982 the
Klickitat went back to work on the Anacortes-Sidney run and was issued
a SOLAS certificate. She didn't remain on the run long, being used on
Hood Canal for a time until the bridge was reopened.
Not long after the ferry was moved over to the Port
Townsend-Keystone route, where she would finish out her career.
Cracks were discovered in her hull in the spring of 2007, and even
after repairs were made, concern about the condition of the hulls of the
class had her removed from service along with the Illahee in November
Class: Steel Electric Class Length: 256' Beam: 73' 10'' Draft: 12' 9'' Speed in Knots: 12 Max Passengers: 412 Propulsion: Diesel-Electric Max Vehicles: 64
City Built: San Francisco Auto Deck Clearance: 13' 10'' Year Built/Re-built: 1927 / 1981 Official Number: 226567 Call Sign: WA6855
Meaning of Klickitat: "Beyond" Also one of the Native American names for Mt. Adams.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Scrapped in Ensenada MX, 2009
The Klickitat departs Friday Harbor on her way to Sidney in 1982, right after she had been rebuilt. Author's collection.
ABOVE: with her tall masts and lack of crew's quarters behind the wheel house, the Klickitat was
forever set apart from her sisters with her 1982 rebuild. Fortunately none of the others in the class
would follow the same cabin plan as the Klickitat. Photo by Khris LaPlante.
1. As the Stockton. 2. Being rebuilt in 1981. 3. Working the Port Townsend run, photo courtesy of Khris LaPlante, 4-6, the Klick's refurbished interior.
7. Tied up in Kingston after being yanked from service. Author's photo. 8. Leaving Puget Sound for the scrapyard. Couresty of Emory Lindgard.
The mountain namesake...
Only two vessels for Washington State ferries have ever carried
names that correspond to one of the major Cascade volcanoes.
Klickitat was one of the Native American names for Mount Adams.
The other mountain name?
That would be the Kulshan, which is one of the Native American names for
The Klickitat, she makes a landing at Orcas Island. The wooden railings on her promenade deck
coupled with the portholes on the car deck place this photo as being taken between 1953 and
1958. Author's collection.
For a time it appeared that at least one ferry would make it back to service; however the Klickitat was not scheduled for any yard time to have repairs
made. With the announcement that no more money would be put into the 80 year old vessels, the Klickitat was retired along with the rest of the class on 13
The Klickitat spent months tied up at Kingston while waiting for space to open up at Eagle Harbor. Finally she was towed down to the harbor to keep
company with the rest of her sisters. In June of 2009 the Klickitat, along with the Steel Electrics were sold for scrap.
The Klickitat and the Illahee left the Puget Sound for the scrappers in Mexico on August 14th, 2009. They arrived in Mexico on 25 August 2009, and
starting with the Klickitat were cut up one by one, ending their 80 year service life.