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. In a few years she would be replaced by the bigger and much posher S.S. Iroquois. 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 Straight 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 1911 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 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. With the return of the Iroquois, and the consolidation of the route, the Olympic was no longer needed.
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.
|At left, the launch of the Sioux. At right, even with the modifications to her bow, the Olympic still retained her graceful lines. Courtesy of Tom Sanislo, color by Nevermore Images.|
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