The world’s first streamlined vessel

6-PC 2-6-13.tif

By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
Northeast News
February 6, 2013

Once the pride of the Black Ball Line, the Ferry Kalakala was, and quite frankly, still is the world’s first streamlined ferry. The Kalakala was originally built as the Ferry Peralta in 1926. An arson fire in May of 1933, however, spelled the end of the Peralta as it was once known. The ship’s hull was largely intact after the blaze, and in October 1933 she was sold to the Puget Sound Navigation Company for the princely sum of $6,500.

Captain Alexander Peabody commissioned Boeing Engineer Louis Proctor to design something modern and streamlined, something in line with the Art Deco style that was all the rage in the 1930s. The result was the world’s first streamlined vessel, the Kalakala, the Chinook term for flying bird.

On July 3,1935, the Kalakala made her maiden voyage to a ticker tape parade and much fanfare. Carrying 500 invited guests of the Puget Sound Navigation Company, the Kalakala steamed on her maiden voyage from Seattle to Bremerton, Wash. More than 8,000 people greeted the ferry at the dock at 4 p.m. The next day, the Kalakala began daily service between Bremerton and Seattle, making six trips daily. A moonlight cruise was offered, too, complete with dinner, dancing and live music by Joe Bowen and the Flying Birds.

The Kalakala maintained daily service through October 1967 when she completed her last trip as one of Washington’s longest running ferry services. She was sold to a crab processing facility in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Over the next 20 or so years, she was sold from one processing company to the next. At one point, the old vessel was towed to Kodiak, Alaska, floated into a sand bed and beached until 1992 when proceedings began to buy the ferry from the state of Alaska and restore her, which were undertaken by a local sculptor and commercial fisherman. In 1998, the Kalakala was re-floated and towed back to Seattle for restoration. Sadly, however, proposal after proposal have failed to produce the proper funding to restore the hulking, Art Deco stainless steel vessel. In November of 2012 she was sold at auction to a Tacoma businessman who is entertaining ideas for the ship, including either scrapping or restoration.

The promotional postcard was sent on Feb. 25, 1945, to Mr. & Mrs. J.A. Eakins of Ottumwa, Iowa. The personal message reads: “Gene and I just crossed to Bremerton on this ferry. We are staying at a tourist cabin near the ocean in Aberdeen. Have seen Grandpa and Leslie. Plan to see Fritz too. Received you’re your letter yesterday, sure glad to hear from you. Hope you are fine. We are. Will be here a week. Love, Margie.”

 

 

Comments are closed.

  • The wild waters of pre-levee Kansas City

    July 19th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Published by the North American Postcard Company of Kansas City, Mo., this week’s card is a Real Photo Postcard showing the West Bottoms area looking northwest toward the


    Christmas in July

    July 12th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News This week, a rare treat — a Real Photo postcard showing a newly completed Penn Valley Drive in Penn Valley Park, Kansas City, Mo.


    Bible College once served Historic Northeast

    July 6th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Established in 1890 as a school for “girls,” the Scarritt Bible and Training Institute was located at Harris (now Norledge Avenue) and Askew avenues in Historic Northeast Kansas


    Celebrating with Uncle Sam: Happy Fourth of July!

    June 28th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Historians aren’t completely certain how the legendary character Uncle Sam was created, or for whom (if anyone) he was named.


    Kansas City’s old Convention Hall

    June 21st, 2016
    by

    Northeast News This week, we feature a rare advertising postcard showing the old Convention Hall, which was destroyed by fire in early April 1900 — just 90 days prior to


  • Century-old view of KC from river

    June 14th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Kansas City’s riverfront on the Missouri River is pictured in this old, turn-of-the-century postcard published by The Southwest News Company of Kansas City.


    Viaduct connected Kansas cities

    June 7th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News This postcard, titled “United States Troops Crossing Intercity Viaduct, Kansas City, Mo.,” shows what seems to be an unending column of Army troops crossing the then-newly constructed bridge


    ‘The great white city’

    June 1st, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Electric Park was named for the 100,000 electric light bulbs outlining its buildings and rides.


    Thoroughly modern courthouse

    May 25th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News This linen postcard, showing north and west sides of what at the time was the new Jackson County Courthouse and the intersection of 12th and Oak streets, was


    Summer brings rain, sometimes flooding

    May 17th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News As we approach the summer rain season, it is fitting that we run a postcard showing a scene in the West Bottoms during the great flood of 1908:


  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    Community volunteers, CORO KC combine to clean up Northeast

    Northeast News July 23, 2016 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A group of community volunteers teamed up with interns from Park […]

    CORO KC interns set community service project for July 23

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A dozen interns sponsored by Park University will wrap up an eight-week public affairs program on Saturday, July 23, by holding a group community

    retorts illustrated bryan stalder

    retorts illustrated bryan stalder [...]