There are probably few people living in Bremerton today that
realize there was once a vessel carrying the name of their city on
her bow.

Another of early pioneers in auto service on Puget Sound, the
City of Bremerton  was one of Black Ball's converted steamers,
and became something of a prototype for the company.  A string
of other vessels with familiar names would soon go into the yard
and all have the same work done:   sponsoning of the hull, an
expanded, if somewhat  boxy superstructure for the passenger
cabin (though often quite plushly fitted out), and, in the early
days of  travel, a  Barlow steam elevator which would lift cars up
onto docks not yet built to accommodate automobiles.

Launched as the
Majestic, in 1901  the vessel was a fairly  typical
passenger steamer of the era with nice lines and a single,
soot-belching smokestack.  Her time serving her original owners
was short. The fierce competition on Puget Sound led her to
become the property of  the increasingly dominant Puget Sound
Navigation Company.

Painting  her long, oblong  funnel crimson, the company  
renamed her
Whatcom in 1904.  Under this name she sailed
mainly on the Seattle-Bellingham route until replaced by the

With the automobile  becoming the preferred mode of
transportation,  the need for multiple stops on the smaller docks
was not needed: people were driving to the bigger ports to be
picked up by waiting steamer, or, as provided, onto ferries.   One
by one the routes to more rural areas were dropped.

Whatcom went into the yard  in 1921 to be rebuilt to carry
vehicles. The steamer emerged from the yard with the same
oblong funnel and the same wheelhouse, but all resemblance to
the trim steamer she had been were gone.  Now very much a
ferryboat, Black Ball renamed the vessel
City of Bremerton.

One piece of equipment acquired for the
City of Bremerton was
greeted by some as an insult.  The fine old stern wheeler
, retired from the Bremerton route, gave up her melodious
5-chime steam whistle to the
City of Bremerton .

Former name: a. Majestic, b. Whatcom. Official Number: 93135  Built: 1901  Length: 169'  Beam: 48'  Draft: 13' 7"
657 tons,
Propulsion:  triple expansion engine   Converted to auto carrier in 1921.  Autos: 60 Passengers:  1500  

Above, a colorized photo of the City of Bremerton late in her career.   Courtesy of the Captain Raymond W. Hughes collection.
The whistle is from the
Bailey Gatzert, which was removed and placed on the City of Bremerton when she was rebuilt as a ferry.
At top in a booklet hailing the arrival of the Chinook (1947) Black Ball paid tribute to its past, including
photos of many of their old steamers.  The notation on the
Majestic/Whatcom is that "she is probably
remembered as the S.S.
City of Bremerton."   Below,  PSN sponsoned out the Majestic and renamed her
Whatcom. She took over the Seattle-Port Townsend-Victoria route after the loss of the Clallam.   Author's

Serving her namesake route for many years, Black Ball was able to retire her as the newer, more economic diesel powered ferries came on line.  With the
Chippewa and the new Kalakala on the route the uneconomical City of Bremerton was no longer needed.

In 1936 she was withdrawn from service and lingered for a time at the Black Ball yard with a flotilla of other discarded steamers--diesel had won the day for
cheap transport on Puget Sound.  After being unused for two years, the
City of Bremerton was sent to the breakers in 1938. The  chime whistle was saved, but
everything else from the
City of Bremerton was cut up for scrap.