BUILT/REBUILT: 1901/1928, Craig Shipyards, Toledo, OH/Lake Washington Shipyard, Houghton, WA.
OFFICIAL NUMBER: 100730 SIGNAL LETTERS: KVSB/KJNK (1933)
L/B/D: 214 x 34 x 15 (as built; 214 x 49 x 15 in 1928) PASSENGERS/AUTOS: 400-day passengers, 160 night passengers in 53 cabins/40-50 cars
NAME TRANSLATION: From the Iroquois tribe, also known as the Haudenosaunee, and to themselves, the Goano'ganoch'sa'jeh'seroni or Ganonsyon. A
historically powerful important Native American people who formed the Iroquois Confederacy, a league of five (six after 1722) the Five Nations and Five Nations
of the Iroquois distinct nations. The name means “Heart people, people of God.”
FINAL DISPOSITION: Scuttled, 1982.
Above, the Iroquois after returning to Puget Sound and being remodeled as the "night boat." Note the difference between how she looks here and in the photo
below when she first arrived on Puget Sound. Author's collection.
Photo #2: a rare card showing the Iroquois after she returned to the Great Lakes.
Photo #3: the elegantly appointed Ladies' Lounge. Author's collection.
A trio of passenger steamers moved from the Great Lakes for service on
Puget Sound: the Chippewa (covered elsewhere on the site as she served
as a Washington State Ferry late in her career), the Iroquois and the
The Iroquois was built in 1901, a 214-foot coal-burning passenger liner
with two large, raked funnels. Proving unprofitable on the Lakes, she was
sold to Puget Sound Navigation and arrived from her journey around
South America in 1907. PSN was quick to rebuild her as an oil-burner, then
assigned her to the Victoria run.
In the years leading up to the World War I, the Iroquois and Chippewa
tried to give the Canadian Pacific Railroad steamships a run for the money
on the Victoria-Seattle route. The CPR ships were faster, and a rate war
began, with PSN dropping their prices to an unheard-of low rate. Though
the Iroquois was very popular, PSN couldn’t really match the service
offered by CPR and eventually quit trying, concentrating more on service
on Puget Sound.
WWI put the vessels in layup, with the Chippewa becoming a training
vessel. By the end of the war, both vessels were languishing at the pier, a
victim of the growing need for auto carriers on the Sound. Black Ball
Transport, an independent subsidiary of PSN, purchased the Iroquois with
the intent of using her to haul freight between Seattle, Port Townsend, Port
Angeles and Victoria. BBT sent the ferry into the yard to be rebuilt in
The refit to the old steamer was extensive. Her staterooms were removed,
and the Ladies' Lounge moved from the stern to the bow to become the
wheelhouse. Her troublesome steam engines were removed and replaced
with diesel engines.
The flat, bizarre looking vessel that emerged from the yards in 1954
looked nothing like the trim passenger steamer she had been built as. Still,
the ever-dependable Iroquois chugged up and down the Sound, becoming
a familiar sight to people for the next two decades.
After spending several years mothballed, Black Ball Transport sold the old
vessel off to interests in Alaska. She was used as a processing vessel for
the next ten years until at the age of 80 the old boat was simply worn out.
The ferry was disposed of by her owners by being intentionally sunk in the
cold, deep waters of the Gulf of Alaska in 1982.
|And to the bottom of the briney deep...
After a career as a crab processor, the Iroquois was finally worn out. At left,
moments before before the explosives in her hull were set to go off to sink
her. At right, the Iroquois begins her plunge to the bottom of the ocean.
Above, the flattened, odd looking Iroquois after her transformation into a diesel
freighter for Black Ball Transport. The strange looking vessel would be a common
sight on Puget Sound for nearly two decades. Author's collection.