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Ferry service returns to Port Townsend after a 40-year absence on February 21, 1979.

HistoryLink.org Essay 5080 : Printer-Friendly Format

On February 21, 1979, ferry service returns to Port Townsend after a 40-year absence. The ferry Kaleetan performs the run between Port Townsend (located on the northeast point of the Olympic Peninsula at the entrance to Puget Sound) and Edmonds, north of Seattle. It is the first ferry to do so since the Chetzemoka had the route in 1939. The new run is inaugurated eight days after part of the Hood Canal Bridge sank during a severe storm.

The previous Edmonds-Port Townsend run had ended on April 30, 1939, when the Puget Sound Navigation Company's ferry Chetzemoka blew its landing whistle there for the last time. At the time, the run was unprofitable, but by 1979 more residents and tourists wishing to travel to the Olympic Peninsula made the route a necessity for Washington State Ferries.

On the Kaleetan's first trip, she carried an Edmonds delegation, headed by Mayor Harv Harrison, which was greeted by a Port Townsend delegation on arrival. The return trip to Edmonds was delayed for a short time due to problems with an overheight truck.

Washington State Ferries had to juggle vessel assignments in order to free up the Kaleetan. The 260-car Walla Walla was taken off of the Seattle-Winslow run and put on the heavily utilized Seattle-Bremerton run. The 160-car Elwha took over the Winslow run. The 100-car Klahowya was placed on the Edmonds-Kingston run, previously used by the Kaleetan. All of these shifts allowed the passage of more automobiles across Puget Sound.

"Port Townsend Ferries are Back After 40 Years," Enetai , February 26, 1979, p. 10.

Travel through time (chronological order):
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Special Suite: Washington State Ferries |

Related Topics: Maritime | Infrastructure |

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Superferry Kaleetan, 1960s

Ferry approaching Port Townsend, May 10, 2003
Photo by Kit Oldham

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