Arriving December 16, 1937 was the ferry Golden Age, which Black Ball
renamed Klahanie. Black Ball assigned the vessel to the Edmonds-Port
Townsend route on 21 January 1938, where the ferry worked until the
first Elwha replaced her. The Klahanie moved to the Winslow, Bainbridge
Island route where she remained until 1950, working with near sister
State ownership changed her livery and her profile. In an effort to
distinguish her from the Chetzemoka, WSF covered her large rectangular
windows on the car deck with plywood sheets, each with a round
"porthole" in the center. This actually made the Klahanie look more like
her cousins, the Steel Electric Class, which also had their large windows
replaced by portholes during the 1950's.
From 1950 until 1958 the Klahanie worked the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Harper
route. She was the last ferry to make a landing at Harper in September
of 1958, after which time ferry traffic began using the new dock at
Her career began to slow after 1958. Starting in 1959 worked the
Kingston route, with daily service in the summer but only weekends in the
fall, winter and spring months.
After eight years as a Kingston ferry, the state moved the Klahanie to
Fauntleroy in 1968 where she operated as the third boat, working five
days a week.
Finally retired and taken out of service in 1972, the ferry spent a few
years at Eagle Harbor, then was purchased in 1975 to be a floating
shopping center and restaurant in California, but for some reason the
Klahanie never went south. After spending time in Everett , the ferry was
moved to Tacoma. There were questions about who actually owned the
vessel at the time, and it was seized by US marshals. She was sold again,
this time the ferry landed in the mud along the banks of the Duwamish
The Klahanie's last years are, sadly, probably the ones she is most
remembered for. Thousands of people saw her rotting remains slowly
decaying on the shore of the Duwamish River behind Boeing Field. Her
passenger cabin began to fall in and fall apart, exposing it to the elements
and further decay.
After a humiliating decade of decline, the ferry either caught or was set on
fire in late July of 1990. News reports of the incident at the time did not
even include her name--she was already that forgotten.
The ferry burned to the hull, and remained a crumbling wreck along the
Duwamish. When the first Superfund monies arrived to clean up the river,
the carcass of the Klahanie was finally broken up in late 1998. Today the
spot is marked with a "recovery" estuary for ongoing restoration of the
much neglected Duwamish.
Original Name: Golde Age. Official Number: 227249 Radio Call Numbers: WG7101 Built: Alameda, CA 1928. Length: 240' 6" Beam: 59' 6" Draft: 11'
Auto Deck Clearance: 12 6"' Speed: 10 knots Horsepower: 1,200 Propulsion: Diesel Electric (DC) Autos: 50 Passengers: 601 Gross Tonnage: 779
Meaning of name: Chinook jargon: "Great out of doors."
FINAL DISPOSITION: Gutted by fire, 29 July, 1990. Hulk broken up on the spot in 1998.
The Klahanie in her final years of service. Photo courtesy of the Captain Raymond W Hughes collection.
At top, the Golden Age passes Alcatraz.
Second photo, at work on Puget Sound for Black Ball.
Third photo, the Klahanie in 1990, just weeks before the fire. The full scale decay of the vessel is
evident. Photo courtesy of Tom Sanislo.
Below, the burned out hulk on the Duwamish. Courtesy of Brandon Moser.