INDIANAPOLIS
1904
Built by the Craig Shipyards at Toledo, Ohio in 1904.  765 tons, Length:  180' Beam:  32' Draft:  18' 6",  Propulsion: triple-expansion  steam engine,
Horsepower: 1,500 Speed: 16 knots.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Scrapped 1938.
The Indianapolis sails past with a mighty bellow of her steam whistle in 1929. Author's collection. The whistle you are hearing is the Indianapolis' range whistle.
The Indianapolis, a 180 foot steamer built in 1904 also came from the Great
Lakes.  Her trip around the horn in 1905-06 was one of the shortest
journeys--54 days total, a record, but the trip was far from uneventful.  A
mutiny nearly took place, a scuffle which resulted in Captain Johnson
receiving a black eye which was still in evidence when the vessel pulled into
Seattle on  10 February, 1906.

Black Ball announced that the ship was to be renamed
Crescent but they
never got around to it.

After a brief refit, the
Indianapolis went to work in competition with  the
veteran steamer  
Flyer on the Seattle-Tacoma run.

The rivalry between the
Flyer and the Indianapolis was long-standing.  
Despite Black Ball's strict policy against racing, there was one midnight race
between the two steamers.  The
Flyer, in her efforts, burst one of her
boilers;  still, even with a 4 minute lead she passed her rival and  pulled into
Tacoma well ahead of the
Indianapolis. "Come fly on the Flyer" was not just a
company boast, it was now an established fact.

Black Ball was not pleased.  With over 285 people aboard, and the loss of
the
Clallam still fresh on their minds, they released a scathing statement
reprimanding both the crew and captain of the
Indianapolis.  The rivals never
raced again.

There was still a matter of pride involved in running the  big steamer.  The
Indianapolis tried very hard to maintain the Flyer's schedule.  To do so, she
had to run at full steam, creating a wake, according to author Gordon Newell
in the fine book
Pacific Steamboats that "would have done credit to the
Mauretania.  The waves of her passing upset scow-loads of lumber, tore
small boats loose from their moorings and wrecked houseboats."

The rivalry ended in 1911 when Black Ball found a simpler solution:  the
company purchased the
Flyer.

Like most of the other Black Ball steamers, the Indianapolis eventually found
herself unprofitable as a passenger steamer.  She was removed from the
Seattle-Tacoma run in 1930.

Black Ball hauled her into the yard and converted her to carry autos on the
Edmonds-Port Townsend run. The conversion was not as successful or as
far reaching as the
Chippewa: the Indianapolis looked like a former steamer
with her bow shorn off.

The
Chippewa, by comparison, was so radically changed that after her final
rebuild of 1932   it was difficult to tell she had been anything
but a ferry.

Unlike her near sisters, the
Indianapolis would not lead as long as a life.  
With the steady arrival of ferries from San Francisco, there was no point in
converting a nearly 40 year old vessel into diesel and remodeling her again.  
In 1938 the fine old
Indianapolis ended up at the breakers, ending a
distinguished career on Puget Sound.
Possibly the most unlovely of conversions, the Indianapolis spent the last years of her life
carrying cars from Edmonds to Port Townsend.    With the arrival of  the ferries from San
Francisco, the
Indianapolis, with her costly steam power plant was soon withdrawn from
service.