Former Name: Sioux 461 tons. Length: 148'3" Beam: 24' 2" Draft 14' 8" , Propulsion: one four - cylinder triple - expansion engine Horsepower: 1,400
Leaving Port Angeles for another trip to Victoria, the steam powered car ferry Olympic pulls out of the harbor. She would take the day runs directly from Port Angeles to Victoria while the
Iroquois would take the "Night Run" to Victoria from Seattle via Port Townsend and Port Angeles. Courtesy of Tom Sanislo, color by Nevermore Images.
The ferry Coho now plies a route that has been in service for well over 100
years. While memories of the Kalakala, the Chinook or even the Iroquois are still
in the minds of some when the Port Angeles-Victoria route is mentioned, few
remember the Olympic.
Puget Sound Navigation was still reeling from the worst maritime disaster on
Puget Sound. The loss of the S.S. Clallam took with it 54 people when it
foundered in a storm in the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Port Townsend and
Victoria. Not one woman or child aboard survived the sinking, and the loss
prompted PSN to cease building any more steamers constructed of wood.
One of the first steel steamers built after the Clallam disaster was the Sioux.
Built in 1910 at Seattle Construction and Drydock, the vessel ran between Seattle,
Irondale and Port Townsend at first, but was later moved to Everett, Port Angeles
and other ports around the Sound.
Like many of the other Black Ball steamers, the Sioux was about to change
her carrying duties. She was sent into the yard to undergo conversion to carry
autos. However, unlike many of her contemporaries the Sioux would retain much
of her original look. With the exception of new side and bow doors, the Sioux,
which emerged in 1924 as the Olympic, still retained her sharp-looking steamer
lines. PSN placed her on the Bellingham-Victoria run first, and when that run was
discontinued the moved her over to the Port Angeles-Victoria run, where she
sailed successfully until 1941.
For nearly two decades the lovely steamer carried passengers and cars to and
from Victoria to Port Angeles during the day as a direct route while the Iroquois
carried on as the night ferry from Seattle, Port Townsend, Port Angeles and
PSN sold her to the U.S. Army Transport service. They changed her name to
Col. Franklin R. Leisenburg and was sent to Dutch Guiana for use on the Surinam
River. As of the late 1950's, the old Olympic ex Sioux was still in service, steaming
up and down the Surinam River. Her whereabouts at this time are unknown, but if
you have any information about the old steamer, feel free to email me.
Above, the Olympic at dock. Below, the Olympic making a landing at Port Angeles.
Even with the modifications to her bow, the Olympic still retained her graceful lines. Top,
author's collection, below, courtesy of Tom Sanislo, color by Nevermore Images.
A wild ride for the Sioux...
"An engine room error resulted in the Puget Sound Navigation Company's steel
steamer Sioux running wild at Everett on August 16, 1912, and seriously depleting
the local mosquito fleet.
The Sioux, on her way from Seattle, was coming into the wharf at Everett and
Capt. William Thornton had telegraphed the engine room for half speed astern. The
engines were set at half speed ahead instead, and the steamer plowed into the
dock. As she rebounded from the impact, Capt. Thornton sent an urgent signal to
the engine room for full speed astern. This time she surged ahead at full speed,
striking the Island Transportation Co. steamer Camano near the stern with such
force that the moored steamer careened forward, striking George Sailing's 75-foot
Everett-Mukilteo launch Island Flyer and J. H. Prather's new Everett- Holmes Harbor
launch Alverene, sinking the former and seriously damaging the latter. The
Camano, her hull torn open, then sank alongside the dock. The 40-foot charter
launch Ranger of 0. C. Peck was less seriously damaged in the melee, as was the
70-foot Tacoma launch Daphne, under charter to George Sailing, but C. C. Hester's
26 -foot launch Arrow was reduced to kindling. The ensuing inquiry revealed that an
oiler had been left in charge of the engines at the time of the accident. Again there
was no loss of life, although a deckhand on the Camano, William McGee, barely
escaped from the lower deck aft, reaching safety as the bow of the Sioux plowed
through the exact spot where he had been standing. Gordon Newell, "Maritime
Events of 1912," H. W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest., p. 209.