Official Number: 204997, Length:160', Beam: 42.5', Draft: 10.1', Propulsion: steam, 600 HP Built: 1908.
YHB-4 and YTD-8 while in service for the U.S. Navy.
Few people today remember that at one time the only way to cross Lake
Washington was by ferry. With all the talk of the 520 bridge needing to be
replaced, it seems that revisiting two of the three main vessels serving the
Lake (the third being the Leschi, covered elsewhere in the Retired Fleet
section) is appropriate.
Information on the Lincoln is scant. Her years on Lake Washington seem
to have been uneventful, though she did create solid memories for at least
one passenger, Mr. Paul Gilmore who was kind enough to share his
recollections: "I remember being on the Lincoln and my Dad taking me by
the hand and looking down from the car deck at the engine room and
being told the larger cylinder of the triple expansion steam engine was six
feet in diameter."
Built in 1914, the steam-powered ferry could handle about 45 cars. Unlike
the paddle-wheel Leschi, built a year earlier, she was driven by single
propellers at either end of the boat. With her large yellow stack belching
black smoke, for the next 30 years she plied the waters of Lake
Washington under heavily subsidized ownership from King County.
By 1940 she was out of work. The Leschi continued on at Madison Park,
but the new bridge idled the Lincoln. The next time the Lincoln saw use it
was under remarkably different conditions.
In the late 1940's it became increasingly clear that the State of Washington
was going to get into the ferry business one way or the other. Captain
Peabody had outfoxed the state after they'd revoked his franchise license
to operate on Puget Sound by setting up a county-by-county charter
service instead. Only one group rebuked Peabody's efforts: Vashon Island.
Creating their own ferry district in 1948, the dilapidated Lincoln was
brushed off and placed in service between Vashon and Fauntleroy.
Passengers boarding the Lincoln were painfully aware the ferry had seen
better days: daylight glistened through walls and floorboards. The foaming
waters of Puget Sound could be seen through cracks in the deck.
However, she provided a much needed service and performed admirably
despite her advanced age. In 1950, she was joined by the Leschi, her old
running mate, as ferry operations on Lake Washington had finally been
Three years later it was all over. Washington State Ferries began
operations on June 1, 1951, and with their formation more suitable boats
were assigned to the route.
The venerable Lincoln, which was listed as part of the assets of
Washington State Ferries in 1951, was never put into service. WSF sold
her as early as the fall of 1951, reportedly for scrap. The Seattle Times
posted a photo in 1952 with the caption that the ferry was being converted
for a cannery in Alaska. It's after this point, the history of the Lincoln fades
into obscurity, with no real concrete listing on what became of her.
Ferryboats, A Legend on Puget Sound lists her as abandoned in 1957;
other list her has having been scrapped sometime in the 1950's.
What is certain, the old ferry was quickly forgotten. Even today, few people
remember the old Lincoln, a ferry that had once be a familiar sight on Lake
For not a lot being out there on the old ferry, she appeared in quite a few postcards. Here
she's seen at dock on Lake Washington, about to take on more passengers. Author's
Official Number: 212845, 580 tons, Length: 147' 3" Beam: 43' Draft: 12'.6", Auto Capacity: 32. Steam powered, 800 hp.
Built: Lake Washington Shipyard, Houghton Washington, for King County on Lake Washington, 1914
The Lincoln, late in her career, working the Fauntleroy route. The Klahanie appears in the background. Captain Raymond W Hughes Jr. collection, color by
Even less remembered is the old steam ferry Washington, which
started life on Lake Washington as a passenger vessel in 1908.
In 1919, with the Lincoln and Leschi carrying most of the traffic
across the Lake, the converted Washington was assigned to the
Vashon-Seattle route which she held down until April 16, 1925,
when the terminal at Fauntleroy opened up.
With the addition of the Kitsap, Bainbridge and Vashon running
the routes around Vashon, the Washington was returned to
Lake Washington in 1929/30.
The vessel was used primarily for excursions from that point
on,as the photo at right shows the ferry steaming up the
Sammamish Slough. The Washignton could be found steaming
down to Olympia, up and down Hood Canal, and all over Puget
With the bridge opening on Lake Washington,(1940) the ferry
was sold to Neider and Marcus, Seattle junk dealers who
removed her boilers and machinery.
During the war, the Washington became the YHB-4, a barracks
ship for the navy. After being discharged from that duty, she
ended her days on the Lake Washington Ship Canal at the foot
of Ewing Street, where she remained as late as 1967.
What happened to her after that is not known,but at some point
she has to have been scrapped.
Any information you might want to share about the either the
Lincoln or Washington, please feel free to email me.
The Lincoln was a favorite subject of J. Boyd Ellis, photographer and postcard maker from
Arlington. Some of the best photographs left in existence of the old vessel were taken by
Ellis. Author's collection, color by Nevermore Images.