Orignial Name: Golden State Built: Alameda, CA 1926. Official Number: 226772 Radio Call Letters: WH6755 Length: 239' 8" Beam: 60' 3" Draft: 12' 6"
Auto Deck Clearance: 11' Speed: 10 knots Horsepower: 1,200 Propulsion: Diesel Electric (DC) Autos: 50 Passengers: 770 Gross Tonnage: 780
Meaning of "Kehloken" : Chinook jargon, "swan"
FINAL DISPOSITION: Gutted by fire, 19 September, 1979. Later cleaned up and towed out to Possession Point and sunk as an artifical reef.
The Kehloken looked particularly sharp in Black Ball livery. Photo courtesy of Brandon Moser.
On 30 November, 1937 an all-wood ferry sailed into Puget Sound.
Built in 1927, her builders probably had no idea that the ferry
would be serving the public well into the 21st century. (Although
admittedly the Kehloken is not currently serving in her originally
Emerging from the yard in her new colors--white superstructure,
black hull, buff trim and crimson smokestacks, and with flying the
Black Ball flag, the ex-Golden State went to work on 7 January,
1938 on the Suquamish-Indianola-Seattle run with her new name:
Kehloken. She worked this route for a few years until replaced by
the Illahee, at which time the ferry was moved to the
While at work on the route the ferry carried out one of the saddest
duties of her long career--she was the ferry that was loaded with
the Japanese residents of Bainbridge Island that were sent to
For the next ten years the Kehloken worked for between Seattle
and Winslow. Only when traffic became too much for her capacity
did she finally leave the run in 1950 to the Southworth- Vashon-
With newer vessels coming into the fleet, the Kehloken went on
supplemental duty starting in 1959, working the summer season
and evening commuter runs on the Vashon route until 1969. She
then went on Kingston route working weekends and summers until
1972.Her last sailing was on Labor Day of 1972, from Edmonds to
For a few years she lingered at Eagle Harbor. The State was
unwilling to put money into the nearly 50 year old, all wood vessel
with a carrying capacity of around 35.
She was sold for $25,000.00 in 1975. Her new owner towed the
ferry over to Lake Washington to be converted into a club house
After four years of lingering on Lake Washington she was set
ablaze in September 1979 and burned to the waterline. The hulk
was cleaned up and taken over by the Department of Natural
Resources. What remained of the Kehloken was towed out to
Possession Point on Whidbey Island and intentionally sunk for use
as an artificial reef.
Today, the M/V Kehloken is a popular spot for scuba divers.
|Up in Flames...
Early on the morning of 19 September, 1979, the Kehloken lit up the
Kirkland night in a spectacular blaze, which took most of the dock
with it. When dawn broke, the gutted hulk somehow was still afloat,
her smokestacks still upright.
The ferry was a complete loss, but not completely useless. She still
delights divers today as an artificial reef.
|Above: the Golden State at dock. Her days on the San Francisco Bay were drawing to a close when this
photo was taken. Courtesy of Brandon Moser.
Middle: At work for WSF.
Bottom: what remained after the fire. Author's collection.