06 September 2012

Chinook international sensation

The Kalakala in 1935, next to the Bainbridge, a typical ferry of the 1930s.

November 1934
Lake Washington Shipyards, Kirkland, WA, USA, construction begins on the world's first streamlined vessel.

Streamlined means designed or arranged to offer the least resistance to fluid flow.

Construction and the shipyard work the Kalakala is supervised by James Murphy and naval architect Helmuth W. Schmitz, who completes the blue print drawings.

William Thorniley names the new ferry Kalakala, which means flying bird in the local Chinook Indian language.

July 3, 1935 12:45 PM
The Kalakala commences her maiden voyage with great fanfare; estimated citizens crowd: 100,000.

Under command of Capt. Wallace Mangan, the Kalakala makes a speed of 17.3 knots and is expected to do better after refinements are made.

July 4, 1935
The Kalakala starts daily service from Seattle to Bremerton. Starting at 6:30 am, she makes six round trips daily. Fares are 45 cents for passengers and $1.10 for autos and driver. Every evening at 8:30 she leaves Seattle for a Moonlight Cruise that lasts until 12:30 am. Cost is $1.00 per couple to dance to Joe Bowen and the Flying Bird Orchestra.

The red velvet chairs in the forward cabin are moved aside to provide a dance floor and music is electrically piped throughout the ship to all decks.

Postcards circulate around the country, showing off Seattle's newest ferryboat. The Kalakala is an international sensation.

The Kalakala in Victoria, BC, Canada as a Washington State Ferry

There were some immediate cosmetic changes to the ferry. She had a green stripe painted around her guards, and her interior was repainted in white and green enamel paint.

Passengers on the upper deck viewing area.

On October 2010 the Art Deco Society of California (ADSC) recognized the unique historic and cultural significance of the Kalakala.

Etc. kalakala dot org / history 

Official number: 226244
Radio call numbers: WA6703
Built in 1934-35
Length: 276.5
Beam: 55.7'
Draft: 16'
Autodeck clearance: 11.2'
Propulsion: direct drive Busch-Sulzer diesel, 3000 HP
Speed: 16 knots
Name translation: Chinook jargon, Flying Bird

September 24th, 2004: the Kalakala is towed to her new home in Tacoma, WA.