Seattle 1978

Seattle 1978

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Kalakala

Her nickname was "The Silver Slug". Some thought she was ugly. Kalakala means "Flying Bird" in the Chinook jargon.

From Wikipedia
She was constructed in 1926 as Peralta for the Key System's ferry service on San Francisco Bay. On 6 May 1933 Peralta burned as a result of an arson fire at the terminal where she was moored, resulting in the complete destruction of her superstructure. The hull was still intact and on 12 October 1933 the vessel was sold to the Puget Sound Navigation Company (PSNC), also known by its marketing name, the "Black Ball Line". PSNC funded a refit at Lake Washington Shipyards in Houghton, Washington (since annexed to Kirkland) to restore the vessel as a ferry.
In November 1934, William Thorniley, publicist for PSNC and president of the Olympic Peninsula Travel Association, named the new ferry Kalakala . . .
She made runs mostly between Seattle and Bremerton from 1935-1967.  I know she also made runs from Port Angeles to Victoria, BC as well.

Before the Space Needle, The Kalakala and The Smith Tower were considered THE Seattle icons.

"World's First Streamlined Motor Ferry M. S. Kalakala ~ Seattle, Wash." Ellis 1002. Mailed January 1945

"The World Famous M. F. Kalakala leaving the Seattle harbor on one of its many daily trips to Bremerton Washington." C5681 Ektachrome by Max R. Jensen Natural color by Mike Roberts Berkeley 2, Calif. Published by C. P. Johnston Company. Seattle, Washington

After she was retired as a ferry, she was used as a fish cannery in Alaska.  When she was retired from there, she was looking pretty injured and towed back to Puget Sound in 1998. She's been at a couple of different docks including Lake Union and then the last ten years she has been rotting and rusting in Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma and was considered an eyesore by many. There were plans to restore her to her Art Deco glory days and turn her in to a party venue or museum.

A few days after the Seattle Seahawks made their incredible all-hope-seemed-lost-come-from-behind win to earn the NFC spot in Super Bowl XLIX, the Kalakala was scrapped.  No last-minute miracle like the Seahawks for her. On Thursday January 22, 2015 she was slowly towed to the graving yard for scrapping.  I would love to purchase a small piece of Seattle history and even emailed the demolition company to inquire but I think they've been getting a lot of the similar requests.

My growing postcard collection includes several of the Kalakala so in tribute, please enjoy this unique structure. It will be a seek-and-find in some of them :-)

"Motor Ferry 'KALAKALA' World's first streamlined vessel in service between Seattle and Bremerton, Wash. on Puget Sound. (Kah-Lock-al-lah, Chinook for Flying Bird) is the world's first completely Streamlined Motor Ferry. The hull is divided into twenty-five water-tight compartments, making it virtually unsinkable, length over all 276 feet, beam over all 55.8 feet, passenger capacity 2,000, automobile capacity 110, has 5 decks, horsepower main engine 3,000, cruising speed 18 knots. The Kalakala is designed primarily to meet the needs of steadily increasing passenger and automobile traffic on Beautiful Puget Sound." C. P. Johnston Co., Seattle, Washington. 1C-P1990 Genuine Curteich - Chicago

"Seattle Skyline, Washington. In the foreground may be seen the all-metal ferry Kalakala while at the extreme right is the 42-story Smith Tower." Plastichrome by Colourpicture, Boston 15, Mass., ASA. Color by Lee Merrill, Tacoma, Wash. Pub. by Smith Scenic Views, Tacoma, Washington."

52 "Kalakala, Leaving Seattle Harbor on Moonlight Cruise" Chas. R. Laidlaw - Aerophoto 6A-H386 "C.T. Art Colortone" 

"Union Oil Company's Natural Color Scenes of the West. Seattle, a major Pacific Coast port and gateway to Alaska and the Orient. Tour the West this year with 76 gasoline"

"Seattle, Washington. This aerial view shows a portion of Elliott Bay, the waterfront, metropolitan area, Space Needle in the distance, Lake Union at upper right and the new freeway borders the far right of the picture. Color by Bud Kimball. Plastichrome by ColourPicture Boston, Mass. 02130"

"The Harbor Tourist - loaded with sightseers on a tour of Seattle's fascinating waterfront. No visit to this city is complete without this most enjoyable cruise." C-183 Ektachrome by Josef Scaylea Pub. by Ellis Post Card Co., Arlington, Wash. Made by Dexter West Nyack, N. Y. 39536-B

"At sunset on the Alaska Way Viaduct at Seattle, Washington. The Viaduct makes it possible to pass non-stop through the downtown business district. Docks and ships are very spectacular from the viaduct." Ektachrome by Max R. Jensen.

The Hyak was built in 1967 - the Kalakala was retired as a ferry in 1967 - they're both in this postcard.

"Seattle Waterfront - Seattle Washington This view shows the Waterfront from Ye Olde Curiosity Shop north to Magnolia Bluff. Known as 'The Gateway to the Orient,' Seattle's docks and piers accommodate ships from every country in the World At the left can be seen the new Super-Ferry M. V. Hyak as it approaches the new Ultra-Modern Ferry Terminal." Color by Pat O'Malley Plastichrome by Colourpicture Boston, Mass 12130. Distributed only by Smith-Western Co. Inc. Tacoma-Portland.

There she goes - sailing out of the picture . . .

"78 Seattle and its Famous Harbor, Washington 6A-H2682" Chas. R. Laidlaw Aerophoto. C. T. Art Colortone Reg. U.S. Pat. Off. Made only by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., Chicago. C. P. Johnston., Seattle, Washington. Postmarked September 1937