Along with the Potlatch, 1912 saw the construction and launch of a second
large steamer, the S.S. Sol Duc. The Puget Sound Navigation Co. was well
on its way to replacing its fleet of old wooden steamers with one of steel.
The unusual name of the steamer was chosen to tie in to Michael Earles
new health spa located at the Sol Duc hot springs in the foothills of the
Olympic Mountains. Earles credited the hot spring’s mineral waters with
curing a serious illness he suffered. Earles spent more than $500,000.00 to
construct a 165-room, four-star hotel, a three-story, 100 bed sanatorium, a
sizeable bathhouse, and gymnasium, golf links, tennis courts, croquet
Both the Sol Duc and Potlatch were completed by the Seattle Construction &
Drydock Co., and went into service in the summer of 1912. International
Marine Engineering’s September 1912 described the Sol Duc's interior in
Passengers are carried on four decks. On the boat deck a long Texas,
abaft of the pilot house, holds staterooms for the master, mate, and wireless
operator as well as ten stateroom for passengers. 29 more staterooms are
within the flush-sided cabin on the upper deck, with an observation room
forward and social hall aft. The main deck has ten staterooms, the galley,
quarters for the chief engineer, chief steward, and a cargo space forward of
14,000 cubic feet. The dining saloon, a pantry and storeroom are on the
lower deck aft, with a bar and smoking room and crew’s quarters forward of
the machinery. Altogether, 163 passengers are accommodated in 49
The staterooms were later increased to 52. The steamer could
accommodate around 450 day passengers.
The Sol Duc was designed for the Seattle Port Townsend-Port Angeles-Port
Crescent run, but Port Crescent never took off as a town and was dropped
from run after that first service year of 1912. After the summer season in
1912, Sol Duc took over duty as the "Night Boat" running from Seattle to
Victoria, British Columbia. She was advertised as carrying autos on the
route as early as 1915.
Olympic, introduced in 1924, took over the auto traffic in the summer on the
route, with Sol Duc taking over the run from mid-September to mid-June.
By the mid-1920’s it was becoming evident that the Sol Duc’s limited car
carrying capacity wasn’t going to be sufficient even in the less-active winter
months. The Iroquois had been repurchased by Black Ball and rebuilt
specifically to fill this roll, displacing the Sol Duc on 21 August 1928.
A week later on 27 August 1928 the Sol Duc took over for the Kulshan on
the Seattle-Everett-Anacortes-Bellingham route, sending the Kulshan into
lay-up, ending her career. Sol Duc stayed on the Bellingham run until it was
discontinued in 1935. The Sol Duc was then tied up and kept in reserve to
back up the Iroquois as needed, but after a few years Black Ball determined
she was of no further use and put her up for sale.
The U.S. Navy purchased the steamer for $5000.00. Sol Duc for use as
barracks ships, designated YHB-8 respectively. At the end of the war with
the need for passenger steamers long past, the Sol Duc was sold for scrap,
and was broken up in 1948.
|S.S. SOL DUC
Built: 1912, Seattle Construction & Drydock Length: 189 feet Beam: 31.5 feet Draft:22.6 feet 1,085 tons
One triple expansion engine, 1,500 Horsepower.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Scrapped 1948
Sol Duc translates to "magical waters."