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 railings.
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
Not long after the ferry was moved over to the Port Townsend-Keystone
route, where she would finish out her career.
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, CA as Stockton 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 after being pulled from service. Courtesy of Matt Masuoka. Klickitat's whistle sounded by Captain Larry Crawford.
The 1970's melodrama Emergency! was about to wrap up its run when it
decided go film an episode in Seattle. The script called for the two principals in
the show, John Roderick "Johnny" Gage (Randolph Mantooth) and Roy DeSoto
(Kevin Tighe) assisting in an emergency on board a Washington State Ferry.
The Klickitat was chosen for a ludicrous scenario in which gasoline is pumped
into the fuel tanks instead of diesel, resulting in an explosion and fire.
Initially happy to work with the production company, state officials were less than
pleased with the final result, which made the crew, who are not only highly
trained in both first aid and firefighting, but who never would have let the situation
occur in the first place, look totally inept.
In the future when WSF granted permission to film on board, crews were either
conspicuously absent, such as the case with the Grey's Anatomy episode on the
Wenatchee, or they appeared briefly and decidedly not incompetent.
The episode of Emergency!, entitled "Most Deadly Passage" is filled with
ridiculous cliches , some very bad overacting and exploding car tires on the
supposedly super-heated car deck, which the actors go blithely walking across
with seemingly no ill effect.
What the episode does have is some great footage of the pre-rebuilt Klickitat,
and is worth viewing for that alone--provided you can get past everything else.
|At top, the Stockton. Photo courtesy of Brandon Moser. #2, the Klickitat hard around at Edmonds in
the 40's. Author's collection. #3, in the San Juan Islands, early 1950's. Author's collection. #4, her
remodeled passenger cabin. Courtesy of I.S. Black.
Cracks were discovered in her hull in the spring of 2007, and even after
repairs were made, the head of the DOT had her removed from service
along with the Illahee in November of 2007.
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 December 2007.
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,leaving 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.