The history of hull # 214056 is these days all but forgotten, save by Mosquito Fleet enthusiasts. The truth is, hull 214056 is far more remembered today as
the Mosquito Fleet steamer Kitsap II than as the ferry Quilcene, a name all but forgotten save for die-hard ferryboat historians.
Starting life in 1916 as the passenger steamer Kitsap II for the Kitsap County Transportation Company, or "White Collar Line" as it was known, the steamer
sailed successfully for a number of years shuttling passengers across Puget Sound from ports on the Kitsap Peninsula. KCTC was very proud of their boat, a
fast, comfortable vessel that was appreciated by all her patrons.
By the 20's though,the automobile was starting to take its place in the transportation landscape of Puget Sound. Passenger steamers were becoming
obsolete. In order to survive, companies were building ferries or converting steamers. KCTC turned their efforts to building ferries and sold several of their
Former Names: Kitsap II; City of Bellingham Official Number: 214056 Built: 1916 Rebuilt: 1926/30 Retired: 1942.
Length: 146' Beam: 43 Propulsion: a four-cylinder triple-expansion steam engine Horsepower: 1,200 Speed: 14 knots (as a ferryboat)
Passengers: 517 Auto Capacity: 36
Back in 1933, the Quilcene was leased out to the Manitou Beach- Agate
Pass Ferry Association. This attempt to get a toe-hold on a route run by
the Kitsap County Transportation Company failed, and the ferry was
ordered off the run by the courts.
Purchased by the Puget Sound Navigation Company, the Kitsap II
operated as a steamer for time before being rebuilt in 1926. The vessel
emerged as the car ferry City of Bellingham. She still retained her narrow
beam, but could haul a decent number of cars and was placed on the
Bellingham-Sidney run, which included a stop at Orcas Island.
In winter of 1929/30 she was rebuilt again,this time sponsoned from 28 to
43 feet. The passenger cabin was completely rebuilt, lined with mahogany
and fitted out with plush, comfortable seats. A full service dining room was
placed in the forward observation room at the front of the ferry.
Essentially a new vessel, Black Ball renamed the ferry again, this time
christening her Quilcene after the river and tribe on the Olympic Peninsula.
Her new, elegant appointments and formal dining room made the ferry
ideal for the longer routes between Bellingham and Victoria and Edmonds
and Port Townsend. Later, she was assigned to the longer trips out to the
San Juan Islands, becoming a frequent sight in Friday Harbor and Roche
Harbor, continuing on up to Sidney, B.C.
With the addition of the larger, more economical ferries arriving from San
Francisco, the Quilcene's small size (36 cars) and uneconomical steam
plant made her a liability. She simply couldn't carry enough cars for the
cost of operating her. Eventually she was assigned to the
Bremerton-Point White route, hauling workers across Port Orchard Bay to
the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
The Quilcene last saw service on Puget Sound as a ferry around 1939.
The vessel was sold to the Navy in 1942 who used her as barracks vessel
(YHB-5) until 1946. After the war, the ferry was sold to a scrapping firm on
Lake Union. The little Quilcene was finally broken up, slipping into the
history books as a footnote to the life of the express steamer Kitsap II.
|Looking rather drab, the former Quilcene is shown here in Bremerton in 1942 as the YHB-5. The ferry spent the last years of her career serving the navy
during World War II. At right, the dining room, at the forward end of the ferry, which not only afforded views of the scenery outside, but appears to have also
boasted a skylight.