Length: 214' Beam: 34' (as built; expanded to 49' in 1928) Built: 1901 for Arnold Transport Co.
Passengers: 400 day, 160 night passengers in 53 cabins 40-50 autos.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Scuttled, 1982. (Original steam whistle of the Iroquois sounding.)
Above, the Iroquois after returning to Puget Sound and being remodeled as the "night boat." Note the difference between how she looks here and in the photo
below when she first arrived on Puget Sound. Author's collection.
Entering the shipyard she had her lower decks cleared out to
accommodate autos. The public rooms were rebuilt, including a Ladies
Lounge, Men's' Smoking Room and state rooms. Black Ball then
assigned her to the night run from Seattle-Port Angeles- Victoria run,
displacing the Sol Duc and pairing her with the Olympic, which maintained
the day run between Port Angeles and Victoria.
With her finely appointed public rooms, the steamer became
tremendously popular vessel, though the conversion left her somewhat top
heavy and she gained a reputation as being a "roller." Still, she sailed
the route for 18 years. By the 1940's though she was becoming dated
and her original steam plant was becoming increasingly expensive to run.
With the debut of the Chinook in 1947, Black Ball was ready to retire the
near-50 year old vessel, offering her for sale.
Photo #2: a rare card showing the Iroquois after she returned to the Great Lakes.
Photo #3: the elegantly appointed Ladies' Lounge. Author's collection.
A trio of passenger steamers moved from the Great Lakes for service on
Puget Sound: the Chippewa (covered elsewhere on the site as she served
as a Washington State Ferry late in her career), the Iroquois and the
The Iroquois was built in 1901, a 214 foot coal-burning passenger liner
with two large, raked funnels. Proving unprofitable on the Lakes, she was
sold and purchased by Puget Sound Navigation and arrived from her
journey around South America in 1907. PSN was quick to rebuild her as
an oil-burner, then assigned her to the Victoria run.
In the years leading up to the World War I, the Iroquois and Chippewa tried
to give the Candian Pacific Railroad steamships a run for the money on
the Victoria -Seattle route. The CRP ships were faster and a rate war
began, with PSN dropping their prices to an unheard of low rate. Though
ships were both very popular, PSN couldn't really match the service
offered by CPR and eventually quit trying, concentrating more on service
on Puget Sound.
WWI put the vessels in lay up, with the Chippewa becoming a training
vessel. By the end of the war, both vessels were languishing at the pier, a
victim of the growing need for auto carries on the Sound.
Black Ball Transport, an independent subsidiary of PSN, purchased the
Iroquois with the intent of using her to haul freight between Seattle, Port
Townsend, Port Angeles and Victoria. BBT sent the ferry into the yard
to be rebuilt.
The refit to the old steamer was extensive. Her staterooms were
removed, and the Ladies' Lounge moved from the stern to the bow to
become the wheelhouse. Her troublesome steam engines were removed
and replaced with diesel engines.
The flat, bizarre looking vessel that emerged from the yards in 1954
looked nothing like the trim passenger steamer she had been built as.
Still, the ever dependable Iroquois chugged up and down the Sound,
becoming a familiar sight to people for the next two decades.
After spending several years mothballed, Black Ball Transport sold the
old vessel off to interests in Alaska. She was used as a processing vessel
for the next ten years until at the age of 80 the old boat was simply worn
out. The ferry was , disposed of by her owners by being intentionally
sunk in the cold, deep waters of the Gulf of Alaska in 1982.
|And to the bottom of the briney deep...
After a career as a crab processor, the Iroquois was finally worn out. At left,
moments before before the explosives in her hull were set to go off to sink
her. At right, the Iroquois begins her plunge to the bottom of the ocean.
The Chippewa went in for an extensive refit to be converted into an auto
ferry, but at the time Black Ball felt that such a refit on the Iroquois was
not justified and they sold her. She returned to the Great Lakes in 1920.
Again, she couldn't make a profit for her owners on the Lakes. In 1928,
Black Ball purchased her again and brought her back to Puget Sound.
This time around, PSN had more concrete plans for the steamer
Above, the flattened, odd looking Iroquois after her transformation into a diesel freighter for Black Ball Transport. The strange looking vessel would be a common sight on Puget Sound
for nearly two decades. Author's collection.