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From the Archives: ferries from yesteryear ?>

From the Archives: ferries from yesteryear

1954 state ferry photo

A “must-do” activity for Puget Sound visitors (and residents, too) is riding one of the ferries that cross its waters. Besides serving an important transportation purpose, the state’s ferry fleet offers riders a great way to enjoy the scenic views of the sound and the Cascades and Olympics.

Ever wonder what the state’s ferry fleet looked like many years ago? The State Digital Archives has photo collections that provide an answer.

The photo above shows the ferry boat Olympic as began her service in the state ferry fleet in 1954. The state put the vessel in surplus in 1997 and eventually sold it at auction.

The photo below features the ferry vessel “Enetai” as it approaches the Bremerton dock.

Enetai photo

The photos are part of the Digital Archives’ State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990. The collection includes many other photos of state ferries and terrific views of Puget Sound.

Today, Washington has the largest ferry system in the United States and its history as a state-run operation dates to 1951. Twenty-two ferries serve Puget Sound and its inland waterways, carrying more than 22 million passengers to 20 different ports of call.

Classic WA maps: 1889 Puget Sound & Olympic Peninsula ?>

Classic WA maps: 1889 Puget Sound & Olympic Peninsula


Anyone who looks at a current map of Puget Sound will spot large cities like Seattle and Tacoma and familiar geographic features like Point Defiance and Elliott Bay. But when you look at old maps of the sound, you realize that some names were different.

This 1889 map of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula proves it.

What is Elliott Bay today was known as Duwamish Bay in 1889. Alki Point had a different name back then, too — Battery Point. As you look at the map, you notice several well-known towns nowadays – Bremerton, Everett, Bellevue, Burien, Edmonds and Federal Way – weren’t even in existence then. Yes, they literally weren’t even on the map!

This map is entitled “Sea Coast and interior harbors of Washington Territory from Gray’s Harbor to Olympia.”  It’s part of a large digital collection of historic maps of Washington and the Northwest region. Here is a list of all of the maps maintained by the Washington State Archives and Washington State Library.

From Your Corner of Washington: Puget Sound sailing ?>

From Your Corner of Washington: Puget Sound sailing

Puget Sound sailing photo

On many summer days, you’re bound to see sailboats plying the waters of Puget Sound. In fact, Washington is renowned for its many boat lovers. This photo shows several weekend mariners near Shilshoe Bay.

We invite you to e-mail your photos and stories to us as part of an ongoing feature called “From Your Corner of Washington” – we want to gather images of landscapes, homes, views, and personal narratives from all over the state.

Q) How do I submit a photo or story to be used in “From Your Corner of  Washington”?
A) Please send your text or image attachment (in JPG format) via e-mail to Stephanie Horn at

Q) What are the guidelines for submissions?
A) All submissions will be screened according to our blog use policy.

By submitting a photo to us, you are acknowledging that you are the copyright owner of the image or have the owner’s authorized permission to supply this to the Secretary of State’s Web site for use on its blog. For questions, please contact our communications staff.

April Archives treasure #1: Cross-sound bridge plans ?>

April Archives treasure #1: Cross-sound bridge plans

(Map courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Whether you’re a commuter or tourist, taking a ferry across Puget Sound is one of those fun experiences unique to our state. It’s hard to beat the view of Downtown Seattle at sunset or dusk as you arrive on a ferry sailing from Bremerton or Bainbridge Island.

Believe it not, there were once plans afoot to replace the ferries with a series of bridges that would cross Puget Sound.  Here is a 1965 analysis on cross-sound bridge crossings prepared for the Washington State Highway Commission. And here is the Guide to the Records of the Washington Toll Bridge Authority covering 1937 to ‘77.  The guide includes this info on the grand idea:

“In 1951, Washington State bought the Puget Sound Transportation Company’s fleet of “Black Ball Line” ferries, and the Toll Bridge Authority took on the responsibility of running and funding the ferry system. Many considered ferries to be only a stopgap measure to transport people until bridges were built across Puget Sound, which would replace all ferries. Much work went into planning as many as five cross-sound bridges, as well as bridges between the various San Juan Islands, before the idea was finally dropped. The only one of the cross-Sound bridges to be built was the Hood Canal Bridge.”

Above is a color map from the 1965 cross-sound bridges proposal.

The cross-sound bridge plans and the map represent the first example in the April edition of State Archives treasures contest. Two more “contenders” will be featured later this week before we ask you and others to choose your favorite in an online poll.

From Your Corner of Washington: Model Ts invade Puget Sound ?>

From Your Corner of Washington: Model Ts invade Puget Sound


It isn’t every day that you see dozens of vintage Model Ts cruising on a highway or street. But that’s what happened last weekend in the Puget Sound area as members of the Model T Ford Club International finished driving more than 50 of these classic cars coast to coast from New York City to Seattle.

Go here to read more about the “2009 Ocean-to-Ocean in a Model T” event, which began June 14.

After the cars and drivers stayed Thursday night at Snoqualmie Pass, they rolled through North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City and Preston before stopping for the next two nights in Issaquah. The rally concluded yesterday as the entourage traveled through Renton and then north along the Seattle side of Lake Washington before stopping for good at Drumheller Fountain on the University of Washington campus.       

The event reenacted the coast-to-coast race of 1909 Ocean-to-Ocean Automobile Race. The “tin lizzies” came to Seattle for the Centennial Celebration of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Helle