Lake Washington

Eastside Stories: The Fleet that Never Was

No. 10 | June 12, 2019

Eastside Stories

The Fleet that Never Was

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

By Margaret Laliberte

EHC Volunteer

The head of Yarrow Bay is a dreamy backwater on a sunny summer afternoon these days, but for a few months in the summer of 1945 the bay was the subject of a lively, often acrimonious, debate. Community and civic groups from around Lake Washington squared off against each other over a proposal by the US Navy to place more than three hundred ships for safekeeping between the marshy head of the bay and what is now Carillon Point.

This largely-forgotten slice of Eastside history happened as the war in the Pacific was coming to an end. In fact, on the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima the steering committee of the Kirkland Commercial Club met to consider the proposal. (They supported it.)

The Navy needed a place to mothball part of its National Defense Reserve Fleet, smaller ships that could be readied quickly for sea duty. Navy planners identified Yarrow Bay, drew up blueprints for two north-south docks and received a $4,000,000 appropriation for construction. The shoreline would be filled in and the whole bay dredged. This, according to the Navy, would beautify the harbor.

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Kirkland officials and a few civic groups and local unions saw the chance to keep jobs as the Lake Washington Shipyard in Houghton slowed down with the end of the war. A local union official argued “It may be hard on the scenery, but you can’t eat scenery. The presence of those ships means jobs. Jobs mean that our kids will be fed.” (At first the figure going around was 2500 jobs, but later it was revealed that there might be only about 100 civilian jobs.; the rest would be Navy personnel.)

Yarrow Bay in 1936. Lake Washington Shipyard (now Carillon Point) near the top, and wetlands that would have been dredged at the bottom

Yarrow Bay in 1936. Lake Washington Shipyard (now Carillon Point) near the top, and wetlands that would have been dredged at the bottom

Supporters faced the vehement opposition of community groups around Lake Washington who feared the “industrialization” of the lake, water pollution, loss of views, and falling home values, to say nothing of all those sailors in town. Fred Delkin of the Hunts Point Community Club put it plainly: “Hunts Point doesn’t want the honky-tonks and other things that will go with [the ships] if a big maintenance crew is kept here.” The Yarrow Point Community Club sent flyers urging residents to protest to their senators, the Governor and Pentagon leadership.

Residents of Houghton, which was unincorporated at the time, felt that Kirkland and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce were selling them out. “They dropped this thing on us like a bombshell,” said Houghton resident Marcus Johnson. “I’d never think of buying a thing in Kirkland now,” said Mrs. Fred Gash. “We’d rather go all the way to Bellevue, and that’s what we’re doing.” The community had a much-loved beach park on the bay: 600 feet of waterfront where hundreds gathered on weekends to swim and picnic. It must have felt impossible to imagine the entire bay filled with military ships.

The Navy flew out two captains, one from the Navy Office of Public Information, to assess local sentiment at three meetings. The first, on Mercer Island, drew 400-500 people from 34 different community organizations bordering Lake Washington. Capt. Campbell’s patient assurances that bilge water and sewage would be safely piped ashore and not dumped into the lake did nothing to alter the vehement opposition of all the community groups. The captain asserted that the federal government had full authority over Lake Washington as a navigable body of water and could establish a moorage wherever it chose, although it would prefer to consult residents’ opinion. (He had the grace to admit that 98% of mail received back in Washington D.C. on the matter was in opposition to the plan.)

View from the northeast side of Yarrow Point, across Yarrow Bay to the Lake Washington Shipyard in 1939. The proposed Navy piers would have filled in this space.

View from the northeast side of Yarrow Point, across Yarrow Bay to the Lake Washington Shipyard in 1939. The proposed Navy piers would have filled in this space.

At the third meeting, held at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and lasting three hours, sentiment was declared about evenly divided, though the meeting ended in some confusion as to whether the proper rules of procedure had been followed. The Navy captains were clearly weary. “This has been no vacation,” Capt. Campbell admitted. “I’ve heard some of the hottest air I’ve ever heard during my time here.”

Local meetings and debate continued through the summer, but at the end of the day, the Navy ran up its flag and withdrew. According to reminiscences of V.J. Berton, Houghton’s first elected mayor, the proposal was finally dropped because the Navy had concluded that acid in the lake’s water would rust the ships’ metal. The fleet was instead sent to the Columbia River; the Navy moored the ships at long concrete piers just east of Astoria at Tongue Point Naval Air Station until 1963.

View to the southeast from Yarrow Point in 1939. The Houghton side of the bay was sparsely settled until the 1950s.

View to the southeast from Yarrow Point in 1939. The Houghton side of the bay was sparsely settled until the 1950s.

Back on the lake, one of the most lasting consequences of the summer imbroglio was the feeling in Houghton that association with Kirkland was no longer in their best interests. In 1947 the community voted to incorporate, and Houghton remained a separate jurisdiction until 1968, when it consolidated with Kirkland. And Fred Delkin’s fears of honky-tonks was well-founded: zoning at the time was weak to non-existent. There would have been little to stop development of commercial establishments catering to the Navy operations.

The strong opposition to the Navy’s project might have surprised the early promoters of the Lake Washington Ship Canal who envisioned significant industrial development on the lake. But as residents of the growing region increasingly appreciated the exquisite beauty of the lake and its shoreline, industrial uses stopped making much sense.

Thanks to Margaret Laliberte, Eastside Heritage Center volunteer, for researching and writing this story. Margaret is a resident of north Clyde Hill , just south of Yarrow Bay. If you would like to contribute an article to Eastside Stories, contact us at info@eastsideheritagecenter.org


Learn more about the Eastside. Books available from Eastside Heritage Center include:

Lake Washington: The Eastside

Bellevue: the Post World War II Years

Our Town, Redmond

Medina

Hunts Point

Bellevue: Its First 100 Years


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: Ferry Landings of Lake Washington--Part II

No. 8 | May 15, 2019

Eastside Stories

Ferry Landings of Lake Washington--Part II

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

In the first part of our tour of ferry landings on the east side of Lake Washington we covered the north part of the lake, from Juanita to Hunts Point. Now we will pick up the story continuing around the Points.

For the most part, the public ferry docks and wharves were built and maintained by King County. Except for Kirkland, which became a city in 1905, the eastern shore of the lake was all unincorporated and county government was the default provider of local government services and infrastructure.

When a group of settlers decided they needed a road or ferry dock they would petition the County Commission and make their case for the investment. If the county agreed to build the facility, property owners would be required to donate the necessary land. Roads were usually unpaved at first, and residents would have to undertake the entire process again to get a road widened and paved.

Periodically the county would send out an intrepid engineer to inspect the ferry docks. The logbooks for these inspections are in the King County Archives and provide insight into the challenges of maintaining these critical links. At a time when treated lumber was a rarity, there were perennial problems with rot and dangerous conditions.

And as ferry service declined and then ended, the county was left with a collection of mostly decrepit piers that had been gradually adapted to public uses.

Fairweather Wharf. We'll begin just south of where we left off in Fairweather Bay, between Hunts and Evergreen points, with the strange case of the Fairweather Wharf. Where today there is an engineered yacht basin between the two points, there was originally a wetland. In 1918, after Lake Washington was lowered and the wetland more fully exposed, King County decided that a wharf was needed at this location. This required construction of an elaborate structure--the Boddy-Hindle Trestle--across the wetland, with a spur to the wharf.

While the Boddy-Hindle Trestle became an important route through the Points, linking Evergreen Point to the base of Hunts Point, where there was a school and market, the wharf was never much used. No one lived in the immediate area and more convenient wharves were available on the points.

The image shows Fairweather Wharf when it was relatively new, with the section to the left leading to the Boddy-Hindle Trestle. A wharf inspector's report from 1930 indicates that the wharf is badly rotted and that everything above the water needed replacing. An inspector's report from 1946 indicates that the wharf had completely disappeared and no sign of it remained. The inspector was not bothered, though, noting that the wharf "was in a location not suitable for any reasonable construction supported by piling or otherwise."

304-jpg.jpg

Evergreen Point-Lake Lane . This pier served Evergreen Point and was a regular stop for the steamer Ariel. Its origin seems somewhat uncertain, as the Wharf Inspector of 1946 cannot find records of it having been built by King County. By 1946 ferry service had ended and the inspector noted that the pier was used for public access to the lake for swimming and boating--activities of which he approved! This location remains a public dock maintained by the City of Medina. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Old Medina Dock-jpg.jpg

Original Medina dock . Medina enjoyed regular ferry service from Seattle as early as the 1890s, with this robust pier at the foot of what is today N.E. 8th Street, near the "Green Store" and post office. The lakefront land for the wharf was donated to the county by Thomas Dabney, one of the first residents of the area. When a new car ferry landing was built to the south, the new owner of the Dabney property, Captain Elias Johnston, went to great lengths to reclaim the land from the county.

Old Medina car jpg.jpg

First Medina car ferry landing . The Port of Seattle introduced car ferry service to Medina and Bellevue in 1913, and this was the original wharf at the foot of Evergreen Point Road. This pier was left high and dry just a few years later when Lake Washington was lowered by nine feet with the opening of the new Ship Canal. The identity of the child on the beach is not known.

Medina ferry dock 1937-jpg2.jpg

Medina Ferry Terminal . Following the lowering of Lake Washington and the exposure of new shoreline, King County built a new car ferry dock and terminal building. The original dock was built immediately adjacent to the terminal building and later moved to the south as shown in this image. When ferry service ended, the terminal building became a community clubhouse and, later, Medina City Hall. A much-remodeled city hall and beach park remain on the site today.

clyde wharf 1908-jpg.jpg

Clyde landing, Meydenbauer Bay, Bellevue. This pier stood at the foot of Clyde Road (now 92nd Avenue NE), which was named by an early resident with Scottish roots. It is not clear how much ferry service was provided to this location, as it is close to the main Bellevue dock. But the property did remain in public ownership and was converted into Clyde Beach Park, which is maintained by the City of Bellevue.


Learn more about the Eastside. Books available from Eastside Heritage Center include:

Lake Washington: The Eastside

Bellevue: the Post World War II Years

Our Town, Redmond

Medina

Hunts Point

Bellevue: Its First 100 Years


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: Meydenbauer Bay

No. 3 | March 6, 2019

Eastside Stories

 

Meydenbauer Bay

Subscribe to Eastside Stories by emailing us at: info@eastsideheritagecenter.org

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

On March 16, 2019, dignitaries will cut the ribbon on Bellevue’s newest gathering place, the long awaited Meydenbauer Bay Park. This park ties together the old Meydenbauer Beach park with the Bellevue Marina, creating the longest stretch of public waterfront in the city.

Meydenbauer Bay is the birthplace of Bellevue and served as the connection point between the earliest settlers and Seattle. Bellevue’s first commercial district on Main Street was just up the hill, as was Bellevue’s first major school building.

In March of 1869, William Meydenbauer, a German-immigrant baker, rowed across Lake Washington and staked his claim to land on the east end of the bay that would later bear his name. 

 
View from 1908, looking north across the early passenger ferry wharf to the Bellevue School on the hill--at the corner of Main and 100th Avenue today.

View from 1908, looking north across the early passenger ferry wharf to the Bellevue School on the hill--at the corner of Main and 100th Avenue today.

At the time there were no other permanent settlers in the area, and Meydenbauer had no intention of building a permanent residence himself. His cabin was just enough to “prove” his homestead and gain him title to the land. He sold all his holdings before long and later acquired property on Hunts Point.

Families gradually settled the area around the bay. By the 1880s the new steamers on the lake began to call, and a wharf was built at the head of the bay.

The big change came in 1913, when the new vehicle ferry, the Leschi, arrived in Meydenbauer Bay. Although the Leschi would cut the Meydenbauer stop off its itinerary in 1920 (sticking to a Seattle-Medina route) that service was enough to establish Bellevue as the primary settlement in the area.

 
The wharf shown in the first photo was lengthened to accommodate the new car ferry Leschi in 1913. Regular ferry service to Meydenbauer Bay ended in 1920, but excursions to the bay continued into the 1930s. (L85.39.4)

The wharf shown in the first photo was lengthened to accommodate the new car ferry Leschi in 1913. Regular ferry service to Meydenbauer Bay ended in 1920, but excursions to the bay continued into the 1930s. (L85.39.4)

Meydenbauer Bay was also an early destination for revelers from Seattle. In the early 1900s, part of William Meydenbauer’s original homestead was purchased and turned into Wildwood Park, which included a dance hall. Steamers would bring party-goers from Seattle for picnics, dancing and canoe paddling. Wildwood had its ups and downs, hosting roller skating and boxing matches. The dance hall was eventually remodeled into the Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club, which stands today among Bellevue’s oldest structures.

Perhaps the most curious part of Meydenbauer Bay’s history came in 1919, shortly after the opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal: the American Pacific Whaling Company.  Although alternatives had been developed for most of the products that came from whales, the industry was still active in Alaskan waters.

 
The American Pacific Whaling fleet gets up steam in preparation for their departure to Alaskan waters. The promoters of the Lake Washington Ship Canal envisioned it giving rise to major industries on Lake Washington. While industry lined the canal and Lake Union in Seattle, the whaling station at Meydenbauer Bay was one of the few significant industrial concerns to locate on the lake itself.

The American Pacific Whaling fleet gets up steam in preparation for their departure to Alaskan waters. The promoters of the Lake Washington Ship Canal envisioned it giving rise to major industries on Lake Washington. While industry lined the canal and Lake Union in Seattle, the whaling station at Meydenbauer Bay was one of the few significant industrial concerns to locate on the lake itself.

The fleet of nine boats operated in Alaska during the summer months (no whales were ever brought to Lake Washington). Things were generally pretty quiet during the winter in Meydenbauer, with the mostly Scandinavian whalers living in Ballard. Nonetheless, the American Pacific Whaling Company was the second largest employer on the Eastside at the time, with only the Houghton shipyard having more workers.

Like much of the Alaska fishing fleet, the whalers preferred to be in Puget Sound during the off-season, and the new ship canal offered the bonus opportunity of keeping the vessels in fresh water.

After World War II it became clear that whaling did not have a future as an industry, and the Lagen family closed the business. The dock area was converted to what is now the Bellevue Marina, and two original buildings remain on the site.

The Bay gradually filled in with waterfront homes, leaving few publicly-accessible places. The original Clyde ferry landing at the foot of 92nd Avenue became Clyde Beach, which was later expanded by purchasing the property to the east. In the 1930s a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project converted the ravine between 97th and 98th avenues into Meydenbauer Beach Park, which forms the western boundary of the new park. 

With the new, expanded Meydenbauer Bay Park, the Eastside can return to its roots along this beautiful natural inlet.

The Eastside Heritage Center will participate in the Grand Opening of Meydenbauer Bay Park, Saturday, March 16, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: Logging the Eastside

No. 2 | February 20, 2019

Eastside Stories

Subscribe to Eastside Stories by emailing us at: info@eastsideheritagecenter.org

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Welcome to Eastside Stories, a new series from the Eastside Heritage Center. Through these periodic postings we will bring Eastside History to life and highlight the people, places, and events that have shaped its remarkable evolution.

Logging the Eastside

When the first intrepid settlers made their way to the Eastside in the 1860s, mostly what they found were trees. Really big trees.

As with so many things in life, this presented both a problem and an opportunity. The problem was that most settlers wanted to do what most Americans did at that time: farm. The Homestead Act of 1862 made land pretty much free for the grabbing, and as the area around the town of Seattle got carved up, settlers headed across and around Lake Washington to stake their claims and start farming. But there were those trees—up to 150 feet tall and several feet across.

The opportunity was to turn those trees into dollars.

 
A crew from the Siler Logging Co. in Redmond cut a large cedar tree. The loggers on the upper left and right are standing on spring boards.  (OR/L 79.79.044)

A crew from the Siler Logging Co. in Redmond cut a large cedar tree. The loggers on the upper left and right are standing on spring boards.

(OR/L 79.79.044)

The Puget Sound area had its start as timber country. The first commercial transaction in the new metropolis of Seattle (the Denny Party huddled in a cabin on Alki Point) consisted of the sale of a load of logs to a schooner captain for use as pilings in San Francisco Bay. The rapid growth of San Francisco after the Gold Rush provided a ready market for lumber, shingles, and pilings.

Getting those enormous logs to mills and ships presented a challenge. Water was the answer, and the timber cutters made their way along the many miles of shoreline on Puget Sound, gradually working their way inland. But since Lake Washington still lacked a good connection to Puget Sound, getting Eastside logs to mills was impossible at first. So the earliest Eastside settlers clearing their farms often had no choice but to burn the logs.

 
A locomotive belonging to the Hewitt and Lee logging company in Bellevue hauls a load of logs. (2002.147.004)

A locomotive belonging to the Hewitt and Lee logging company in Bellevue hauls a load of logs. (2002.147.004)

Three important changes, beginning in the 1880s, made Eastside logging profitable. First, mills began to spring up along Lake Washington, and then gradually inland. It would always make more sense to ship higher value lumber and shingles than to transport logs, so mills followed the loggers inland. A number of the largest mills were around Lake Sammamish, which was served by early rail lines.

Second, transportation improved. In 1885 a log sluice opened in Montlake, between Lake Washington and Portage Bay. This ditch had a gate at the upper end (Lake Washington was about nine feet higher than Portage Bay at that time) which was opened to let rushing water carry logs to the mills along Lake Union. Railroads began to extend across the Eastside in the 1880s, allowing easier shipping of logs and lumber.

 
Employees at Webber's Shingle Mill on Lake Sammamish. (OR/L 79.79.049)

Employees at Webber's Shingle Mill on Lake Sammamish. (OR/L 79.79.049)

Third, mechanization began to take over. Steam powered donkey engines pulled logs from hillsides and gullies using steel cables known as “wire rope.” Hand saws and axes were replaced with mechanized harvesting equipment. Trucks replaced horses and oxen.

By the 1920s, most of the Eastside had been logged off. Remaining smaller trees that were not worth cutting for timber, and are often seen standing alone in photos of the period, were taken for pulp. As timber was cut and stumps removed, farms spread across the Eastside. Aerial photos from the 1930s show few heavily wooded areas, with most of the Eastside taken up by farms and sparse second-growth forests. 

Today, a sharp-eyed observer can see evidence of early logging. Western Red Cedar rots very slowly, and original stumps can be found in second growth forests around the Eastside. On the sides of many of these stumps, notches for springboards—platforms that allowed loggers to cut above the fat base of the tree--can still be seen. 

Looking at the mature residential areas and dense second growth forests of the Eastside, it can be hard to imagine that 100 years ago most of the Eastside was quite barren. Fortunately those big trees have a way of growing back to provide us with beauty, shade and oxygen.


Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Stories: The Ferries of Lake Washington

No. 1 | February 6, 2019

Eastside Stories

Subscribe to Eastside Stories by emailing us at: info@eastsideheritagecenter.org

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Welcome to Eastside Stories, a new series from the Eastside Heritage Center. Through these periodic postings we will bring Eastside History to life and highlight the people, places and events that have shaped its remarkable evolution.

The Ferries of Lake Washington

We’ll begin our series of Eastside Stories with one of the things that made settlement of the Eastside possible: ferries on Lake Washington.

The earliest settlers got around by rowboat and canoe, but for the Eastside to grow as an agricultural area and as a commuter suburb, it would need reliable transportation to the burgeoning city of Seattle.

 
The Leschi, in her early steam sidewheel configuration. She was later converted to diesel engines with propellers. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime)

The Leschi, in her early steam sidewheel configuration. She was later converted to diesel engines with propellers. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime)

By the 1880s, entrepreneurs had seen enough people settling around Lake Washington to justify ferry service. The first problem was to get boats onto the lake, since the Lake Washington Ship Canal was still just a pipe dream. Some early ferries were built in yards in Seattle and Houghton. Others were dragged up the Black River, which drained the lake through Renton.

Early passenger steamers, like Acme , Dawn and Elfin needed a place to land. King County built a series of wharves around the lake, and most residents lived within easy distance of a ferry landing. And there was always the option of flagging a ferry for an unscheduled stop at a private dock.

By the early 20 th Century, Seattle was growing like crazy—from 50,000 people in 1890 to 250,000 in 1910—and all those new people needed to eat. Eastside farmers could supply produce, but loading it on and off small steamers would not do the trick. So, ferries for wagons and the growing fleet of cars and trucks began to ply the lake. The vehicle ferries Kent , Washington and Lincoln served on the Madison Park-Kirkland route beginning around 1900.

 
The Ariel operated on a route from Madison Park to Houghton, serving wharfs on Evergreen, Hunts and Yarrow Points. She was owned by the Johnson brothers and was the only steamer on the lake that stayed out of the hands of Captain Anderson. She ended her days serving as student housing on Portage Bay. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime)

The Ariel operated on a route from Madison Park to Houghton, serving wharfs on Evergreen, Hunts and Yarrow Points. She was owned by the Johnson brothers and was the only steamer on the lake that stayed out of the hands of Captain Anderson. She ended her days serving as student housing on Portage Bay. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime)

The most ambitious ferry project was the Leschi, a steel-hulled ferry commissioned by the new Port of Seattle in 1912. The ship canal had still not opened, and there were no yards on the lake that could build a steel hull. So the hull was fabricated on the Duwamish, disassembled and re-assembled at Rainier Beach. The Leschi originally served Meydenbauer Bay and Medina (that's the Leschi in Meydenbauer Bay in the background of the the EHC logo) but the Meydenbauer stop was dropped in 1920. The Seattle-Medina route ran until the day before the new floating bridge opened in 1940.

Car ferry service kept going to Kirkland through World War II, mostly to get shipyard workers to Houghton. The last of the lake’s passenger steamers, the Ariel, which served the Points Communities and Houghton, retired in 1945.

The early steamers were lovely to look at, but like wooden steamboats everywhere, they often had short lifespans. Fires, exploding boilers, rot and sinking were the fate of nearly all of the lake’s small ferries. When Captain John Anderson began to buy up the ferries on the lake he brought some order to the chaos, but also took some of the fun and romance out of it. 

About once a decade we get another study of returning ferry service to Lake Washington. The economics have always been a challenge, and the slow speed limit in the ship canal makes for a long trip to Lake Union. A new service from Renton is now in the offing.

But Lake Washington is still full of passenger boats doing what those early steamers all did for extra money: sightseeing excursions on the most beautiful urban lake in America.

 

Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture