Official Number: 544785 Call Sign: WYX2004 Length: 440' Beam: 87' Horsepower: 11,500 Draft: 16' Auto Deck Clearance: 16' Horsepower: 11,500
Speed in Knots: 18 Max Passengers: 2000 Max Vehicles: 188 City Built: Seattle Year Built/Re-built: 1972/2003
Meaning of Spokane: Eastern Washington Native American tribe: "children of the sun" or "sun people." A city, county and river are also named after the tribe.
The Spokane at Edmonds, with the spectacular Olympic Mountains in the distance. Photo by Gloria Mairs.
For the first two decades of their life on Puget Sound, the Jumbos
spent their days on the Winslow (Bainbridge Island)-Seattle route. In
spite of the early grousing of commuters about the aesthetically
unpleasing interior (which was justified to a large extent, including the
very poorly laid out seating) the boats settled in to a very comfortable
routine on the run.
The pluses certainly outweighed the minuses: the sun deck was (and
continues to be) a popular place for commuters and tourists alike
during the summer months, and the open, airy cabin was certainly
In the 1990's the Spokane's interior was overhauled. Allegedly part of
the project was to test the materials to be use in vessel for materials for
the Jumbo Mark II's which were then on the drawing board. When the
Spokane returned to service, it was to mixed reviews. Certainly the
new seats were far more comfortable than the teacup predecessors.
The carpet, which had been nearly impossible to keep clean, was
replaced with much more practical tile.
The color scheme however, was a bit of a shock. The palette included
an orange color that bordered somewhere between tangerine and
apricot, black, tan, turquoise, brick red and most noticeable, purple. It
was certainly a bold choice and very distinctive, but the wide use of
colors had the ferry earning the somewhat dubious nickname of the
Further improvements over the last few years have included the
installation of an elevator, security system, WiFi and as of the summer
of 2009, new exterior paint.
The former queen of the Winslow run was displaced by the newer and
larger Tacoma and Wentachee. She moved one run north to the
Kingston-Edmonds route where she is now assigned permanently,
working alongside her near cousin, the M/V Puyallup.
The Spokane ditched her 70's interior in the 1990's. The refurbished cabin took many by surprise for
its bold use of color. The cabins new fittings turned out to be far superior to their predecessors,
however. Top and bottom photos by the author. Middle: the Spokane at the Edmonds dock. Photo
courtesy of Angela Inabinett.
The Spokane visits... Egypt?
Several years back, Egypt commemorated the
opening of the Suez Canal with this postage
stamp. It would seem that in their quest to show
a "typical" vessel using the canal, whoever
designed the stamp used a photo of the Spokane,
creating an instant bit of collectible ephemera for
fans of Washington State Ferries.