Official Number: 21875 Radio Call Numbers: WH6752 Built: Seattle, WA 1913 Hull: Steel/Wood
Length: 169' 11" Beam: 50' 3" Draft: 9' Auto Deck Clearance: 11' 2" Speed: 10 knots Horsepower: 560 Propulsion: Steam/Diesel Electric
Autos: 40 Passengers: 453 Gross Tonnage: 336
Name Translation: Named for a Native American Chief of the Nisqually tribe.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Blown ashore in a storm 1978; abandoned and left to rot. Hulk still is on the beach and visible in Shotgun Cove, Alaska.
The Leschi shown working for WSF. Courtesy of WSA.
|Remains of the Leschi...
This is all that remains of the Leschi as of 2008. Everyhing but the hull has fallen away.
She's located in Shotgun Cove outside of Whittier, Alaska. Courtesy of micktravels.com
|Top, the brand new Leschi goes to work in 1913. Courtesy of PSMHS/MOHAI. Above,
the Leschi is shown here late in her career on Lake Washington. She would soon
become part of the WSF and take to salt water for the first time. Author's collection.
The Leschi was built in 1913 on Seattle's East Waterway for service across
Lake Washington. She was built with large side paddle wheels, instead of a
propeller, and she had to be assembled twice--once at the yard, and then
again at Rainer Beach where the superstructure was added--there were no
locks in those days. For 18 years she ran between Leschi Park in Seattle to
Bellevue and Medina on the east side of the lake.
She went into the yard for an extensive rebuild and emerged with new diesel
engine and propeller, but to save money her exterior was not extensively
rebuilt. Her outside staircase from the car deck to the passenger cabin
remained her entire career, and it is one of the easy ways to spot the Leschi in
old postcards. The Leschi continued on Lake Washington even after the first
floating bridge was completed in 1940. Her days were numbered though, and
she finally was retired from lake service in the summer of 1950.
Still at work for the King County Ferry District, she was moved to salt water for
the first time and was put to work on the Vashon-Fauntleroy run. The route
was combined with state ownership in 1951. Under WSF, she moved up to the
Mukilteo route taking over for the Bainbridge which had been retained by
Puget Sound Navigation. For ten years she worked as the back up ferry for
the route, with the Chetzemoka and Olympic.
After winter lay-up in 1961, and the freeing of the Rhododendron for the
Mukilteo route, the Leschi went back to work at Vashon. She worked this
route for three years before returning to Mukilteo, finishing out her career on
the Kingston-Edmond runs on Labor Day, 1967.
Retired and sold in 1969, the Leschi was converted into a cannery and moved
up to Alaska. After being moved to Shot Gun Cove, she blew ashore in a gale
and was later abandoned. Over time, her wooden construction finally
succumbed to the elements, collapsing. Today the remains of the Leschi lie
on the beach near Whitter.
In an interesting side note, Chief Leschi, whom the ferry was named after, was
cleared in a "court of history" for any wrong doing. The author was going to
lobby for one of four new ferries being built to be named Leschi to honor the
chief once again, but the City of Seattle beat me to it.
The new Seattle fireboat has been christened Leschi. Ferryboat or fireboat, it
is a fitting homage.