Monday, September 6, 2010

Keeping History Afloat: The Washington State Ferries

On a recent trip to Vashon Island, I took the MV Rhododendron, a Washington State Ferry which runs between the island town of Tahlequah and Point Defiance in Tacoma.

MV Rhododendron approaching Tahlequah

Onboard the ferry is a collection of photos taken of Tacoma in the early 1900s. The Octagon Pavilion pictured below stood on the site of the present day Boathouse complex in Point Defiance Park.

Octagon Pavilion: Point Defiance, Tacoma

The Washington State Ferry system is the largest ferry fleet in the United States Nautical speed control and the third largest in the world. The ferry system began as the Mosquito Fleet around the 1880s. Currently, there are 20 ferries on Puget Sound operated by the state. Many of the ferries showcase historical photos and artifacts on the passenger decks

On the MV Cathlamet, which runs between Mukilteo and Clinton, there are older pieces of ferry equipment on display, such as this nautical speed control to the right.

The MV Cathlamet provides an illustrated history of the early ferries of Puget Sound, such as the photo of the crew of the Hyak.

Crew of the Hyak ferry

There’s also a photo of the MV Kalakala, the first aerodynamically designed ferry that was build in 1934.

Kalakala ferry

In addition to historical displays, the Washington State Ferry system showcases the work of local artists, such as Rainbow Rainbow by Eileen Klatt.

Rainbow Rainbow: by Eileen Klatt

The next time you step aboard a ferry, look around — you’re also stepping into history and art.

Redmond Library Board

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