The automobile ferry City of Edmonds makes its first run from Edmonds across Puget Sound to Kingston on May 20, 1923.

  • By Charles LeWarne
  • Posted 3/24/2008
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8544

On  Sunday morning, May 20, 1923, the automobile ferry City of Edmonds  makes its first run from Edmonds to Kingston, inaugurating a new route across Puget Sound. As regular service begins, the ferry is "exceptionally well patronized" by both walk-on passengers and automobiles  (Edmonds Tribune-Review, May 25, 1923).   Within a few weeks an additional route across Hood Canal will make automobile traffic possible directly from Edmonds to the Olympic Peninsula.

A Sturdy Boat

In future days a schedule of three runs each way on weekdays and six on Saturdays and Sundays were in effect at a rate of $1.50 each way for car and driver and $2.50 round trip and 25 cents for passengers each way.  Constructed and operated by the Joyce Brothers Ferry Company, the vessel, launched the previous month, was described as a "sturdy boat, 65 feet in length, with a carrying capacity of twelve to fourteen cars and 76 passengers"  (Edmonds Tribune-Review, May 11, 1923).

The inaugural run came four days after the original celebration of the opening of the ferry run, which was delayed when inspectors found it necessary to make corrections to the boat.  The celebration had been scheduled for Wednesday, May 16, and events went ahead that day despite the stated reason for the delay and inclement weather. 

Celebrating at Kingston

About 600 Edmonds residents sailed to Kingston on a hastily acquired launch that made several runs across the waters along with a small Kingston launch that towed the ferry’s lifeboat.  Nothing deterred the celebration at the Kingston park where local officials were present,  barbequed beef and hot coffee were enjoyed, the Edmonds Park Band entertained, and a baseball game was played.  That evening a dance was held at Kingston’s Woodman Hall, and Edmonds residents promised to host a similar celebration in the near future.  For the return journey, a freighter was pressed into service.

These events culminated longtime actions to connect the two sides of Puget Sound with auto ferries.  Up until this time, small passenger boats, customarily dubbed “the mosquito fleet,”  carried passengers and cargo amongst many waterfront communities.  The increased number of automobiles created a new need for cross-sound transportation.  In October 1922, the Edmonds City Council granted a lease to allow the Joyce Brothers of Mukilteo to use part of the city wharf as a ferry dock, thus leading to regular service between Edmonds and Kingston. 


Sources: Edmonds Tribune-Review, May 11, 18, 25; Ibid., June 8, 1923; Ray V. Cloud,  Edmonds, the Gem of Puget Sound: A History of the City of Edmonds  (Edmonds: Edmonds Tribune-Review Press, 1953).

Related Topics:   Maritime | Roads & Rails | Washington State Ferries

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