The Wollochet (which in Chinook means "squirting clams") was diesel
ferry built in 1925 by the Skansie Brothers for their Washington
Navigation Company. She was a small ferry at a mere 89.5 feet in
length with a beam of 32.5 feet. Built at Gig Harbor, the ferry was put
into service to Day and Fox Islands near Tacoma.
She was later renamed Fox Island while still with the Washington
Navigation Company. WSN sold the vessel in 1942 to the Horluck
Transportation Co., which was in desperate need of additional ferries
to meet the passenger demands of its ferry service between Port
Orchard and Bremerton. During World War II the Puget Sound Naval
Shipyard was working around the clock and traffic to and from the yard
After traffic returned to normal levels when the war ended, so Horluck
sold the ferry in 1947 to Captain Oscar Lee. Lee , H.J. Carroll and A.C.
Grady formed Olympic Ferries Inc. and purchased the Port
Townsend-Keystone route from the Puget Sound Navigation Company
(Black Ball Line) after the company had essential abandoned the route
in 1943. They had to rebuild the dock at Keystone which had been
destroyed by storms during the years it hadn't been used.
The 18 car Fox Island went into service on the route after the dock was
rebuilt in 1947 and sailed on the run until being displaced by the ferry
Defiance . The date this took place is uncertain, although the Fox Island
was sold in 1955 to the Gulf Island Ferry Company in British Columbia
between Crofton and Vesuvius.
Gulf Island Ferry Company renamed the ferry George S. Pearson and
started operations in the Gulf Islands, but the ferry was charted for use
by Black Ball Ferries for use between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale.
In 1961 she was transferred to B.C. Ferries when the Crown Corporation
took over the Gulf Island Ferry Company. She continued to sail until
1966 when she was sold to Nelson Brothers Fishers, Ltd., to be used as
The ferry was destroyed by a storm in 1968...see the details below.
|Above, the brand new Wollochet in service for her original owners, the Washington Navigation Company. Photo
courtesy of the WSHS. Below, the George S Pearson, in a rare postcard shot. Author's collection.
|End of the Fox Island...
Thanks to Lorne Campbell, who provided me with the following
According to the 23 Sept 1968 issue of the Prince Rupert Daily News,
George S. Pearson, then named Western Service and owned by
Nelson Bros. Fishery, was caught in a storm in Hecate Strait between
what is now Haida GAW (then Queen Charlotte Islands) and the
mainland on 8 September 1968. She was loaded with supplies
including washers and dryers to serve the fishing fleet. As name
implies, she was attached to the fishing fleet and was a supply ship.
The house was destroyed in the storm and it says the owners had not
determined what to do with the hull. I assume it was scrapped as I can
find no reference anywhere of the hull’s fate.
I would agree with the assessment of the old Wollochet being
scrapped. Given the boat was essentially wrecked, the all wood
construction, and the age, I can't see anyone investing a ton of
money to rebuild the vessel. However, if you have information of
anything other than the boat being scrapped, feel free to email me.
Original Name:Wollochet Official Number: 224559 Built: Skansie Brothers, Gig Harbor, 1925. Length: 89' 5" Beam: 32' 5" Draft: 9'.7"
Propulsion: diesel Auto Capacity: 18
The Fox Island leaving Keystone while working for Olympic Ferries Inc. Photo courtesy of the Raymond W Hughes Collection.