Chief Seattle Thelma Dewitty Thomas Foley Carrie Chapman Catt Anna Louise Strong Mark Tobey Helene Madison Home
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Eassy Sponsor Book Store Donate Now
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
6955 essays now available      
Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Washington State Ferry Martha S. of Keller makes her maiden voyage across Lake Roosevelt on September 9, 1948. Essay 7225 : Printer-Friendly Format

On September 9, 1948, the ferry Martha S. of Keller makes her maiden voyage across Lake Roosevelt. The vessel is named in honor of Martha Shain and is also known as the Keller Ferry. Martha Shain is the wife of State Highway Director Clarence Shain. Lake Roosevelt is the holding reservoir for the Columbia River behind Grand Coulee Dam. The Columbia is 1.25 miles wide at this point.

Ferry service across the Columbia had existed at this location since before 1890. The state began operating a ferry here on September 1, 1930. Between 1939 and 1942 the water level gradually increased due to the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam. The original ferry landing was flooded in late 1939.

The Martha S. was built at the nearby town of Coulee Dam, and traveled from the shipyard to the launch point on her own power. Diesel-driven propellers on both ends meant that she never had to be backed up into a landing.

As of 2004 the Martha S. is still in service. She has a 12-car capacity and is 80 feet long with a 30-foot beam. Powered by two Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines, she makes the crossing in about 12 minutes. The ferry carries traffic on State Route 21 (formerly known as State Route 4), crossing the Columbia at its confluence with the Sanpoil River from Ferry County and the Colville Indian Reservation on the north bank to Lincoln County on the south. Basalt cliffs and scablands form both shores.

The ferry is owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation and operated by WSDOT's Eastern Division, based in Spokane. The vessel operates seven days a week, 18 hours a day. The crew can observe both landings from one of them, and waits at a landing until a vehicle appears, thus avoiding empty crossings.

"Ferries in Eastern Washington," (Washington State Department of Transportation website accessed October 26, 2004 (http://www.wsdot.wa/gov/regions/Eastern/ StateFerriesEasternregion.cfm); "New State Ferry at Keller Crossing Now in Operation," The Wilbur Register, September 16, 1948; Mark Bozanich, "The Keller Ferry," Highways of Washington website accessed December 28, 2006 (
Note: This essay was corrected as to the ownership of the vessel on December 28, 2006.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Special Suite: Washington State Ferries |

Related Topics: Maritime | Washington Rivers | Roads & Rails |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

This essay made possible by:
Peach Foundation
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

Martha S ferry carrying State Route 21 across the Columbia, shot from north shore, Keller, May 2003
Photo by Mark Bozanich

Ferry Martha S. of Keller, Columbia River between Ferry and Lincoln counties, maiden voyage, September 9, 1948
Courtesy WSDOT

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM) is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email