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Catalog Number WF 2405
Caption Ferry - VASHON
Description This view is of a Lions Club cruise aboard the ferry VASHON. The VASHON served the Anacortes - San Juan - Sidney run during the 1940s and 1950s. It was built in 1930 by the Lake Washington Shipyard in Houghton for Kitsap County Transportation Company. At 200', with a 58' beam, she became the largest ferry operating north of San Francisco at the time of her construction. She could carry 646 passengers and 60 cars when built, and she was powered by a 925 horsepower diesel engine. Launched on May 10, 1930, she was sold to Puget Sound Navigation Company c. 1940. In 1941 she replaced the ROSARIO on the Anacortes - San Juan - Sidney run until 1950 when she was moved to serve the Hood Canal area. The VASHON returned to the San Juan Islands run in 1954, but not to Sidney. She was known by San Juan Islands residents as "old reliable" until being moved to the shorter Mukilteo run in the early 1970s; by then car sizes were larger and she could hold fewer than 40 cars. It was the only all-wood vessel left in the fleet. The VASHON was temporarily brought back to the Anacortes - San Juan run in 1978 for two seasons, then returned to the Mukilteo run where she was retired on 12-23-1980. Numerous efforts were mounted to preserve the VASHON for its historic significance. A 2-10-2003 SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER article reported the VASHON was "in running condition when the state sold it ... it was evicted from moorage after moorage while its owner tried various schemes to raise money, such as bed and breakfasts and illegal charters. It soon left the state (also illegally) and steamed to Alaska, where it sank due to negligence."

Various ferry landings have served Fidalgo Island since 1890. The traditional landing place for passenger boats at that time was the Ocean Dock located at the foot of P/Commercial Avenue on the Guemes Channel. Vessels of "Mosquito Fleet" vintage continued to dock there until those wooden vessels gradually became obsolete and transportation routes were consolidated on the Sound by such lines as the Puget Sound Navigation Company. Starting around c. 1915, that company's Black Ball Line docked its domestic passenger vessels on the west side of Curtis Wharf which was built c. 1904 and located at the foot of O Avenue on the Guemes Channel; the company's international (Sidney, B. C.), and San Juan Islands ferries docked at the Guemes Ferry landing at the foot of Q Avenue. The Guemes Ferry, which commenced in 1913, had been started by Harry Rickaby, a boat builder whose boathouse was also based at the foot of Q Avenue, as was the City Float; see WF 0178. In 1923, a new route was added to serve Sidney, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. With this increased business, the Black Ball Line consolidated all of its boat landings at the Curtis Dock in 1928. The 3-22-1928 ANACORTES AMERICAN reported, "Puget Sound Navigation Company has been granted permission to move its Sidney and island ferries docking place from foot of Q Avenue to foot of O Avenue where the company's steamers have landed for years." See WF 0173, 0176.

Sometime over the next two decades, the Black Ball Line began docking at the "International Ferry Dock" at the foot of I Avenue and 6th Street. This historic side had once been occupied by the McNaught Dock, built in 1890 to service steamers and trains coming to this portion of Anacortes. See WF 0060. As the Washington State Ferry service replaced the Black Ball line, those ferries servicing the outlying San Juan Islands and Sidney, B. C., docked there. On 12-30-1949, due to rising ferry rates and a virtual monopoly by the Black Ball Line, Washington State announced it would purchase most of the equipment and operations of the Puget Sound Navigation Company. The sale took place in 1951, and Washington State Ferries began service, using the re-flagged Black Ball vessels, on 6-1-1951. In 1959, work bean on a new site for the San Juan and Sidney, B. C., ferries at Ship Harbor. The area was so-named during the mid-1800s when sailing vessels would anchor there while waiting for a tow further east into inland waters. By the 1890s Ship Harbor hosted numerous salmon canneries, such as the Fidalgo Island and Rosario canning companies. The last of the buildings associated with the cannery era were demolished to make way for the new Washington State Ferry terminal, which officially opened in May 1960. The old International Ferry Terminal at 6th and I Avenue then became the Guemes Island ferry terminal. See the 7-6-1950 ANACORTES AMERICAN for a Brogan photo of the Black Ball Line ferry at International Ferry Dock.

Wallie V. Funk compiled this partial list of ferries that served Anacortes, the San Juan Islands, and British Columbia.
Date 1940s c.
Photographer BRADY, Ferd
Collection Wallie Funk Collection
Subjects Maritime - Boat
Transportation - Maritime
Place - Anacortes, WA

Credit line Donated by Wallie Funk, Wallie Funk Collection
Place Anacortes, WA
Search Terms ferry
Ocean Dock
Mosquito Fleet
Puget Sound Navigation Company
Black Ball Line
Curtis Wharf
Guemes Ferry
International Ferry Dock
McNaught Dock
Washington State Ferries
Ship Harbor
Object Name Negative