BUILT: 1913, J. F. Duthie & Company, Seattle, WA. OFFICIAL NUMBER: 211875 CALL SIGN: WH6752
L/B/D: 170 x 50 x 9 GROSS/NET TONS: 336/228 PASSENGERS:/AUTOS: 453/40
PROPULSION: Originally steam paddle wheel. Rebuilt as diesel, 560HP. SPEED: 10 knots
NAME TRANSLATION: named for the chief of the Nisqually tribe.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Blown ashore in a storm, 1978; abandoned. Hulk still is on the beach and visible in Shotgun Cove, Alaska as of 2019.
The Leschi shown working for WSF. Courtesy of WSA.
|Remains of the Leschi...
This is all that remains of the Leschi as of 2008. Everyhing but the hull has fallen away.
She's located in Shotgun Cove outside of Whittier, Alaska. Courtesy of micktravels.com
|Top, the brand new Leschi goes to work in 1913. Courtesy of PSMHS/MOHAI. Above,
the Leschi is shown here late in her career on Lake Washington. She would soon
become part of the WSF and take to salt water for the first time. Author's collection.
The Leschi was built in 1913 on Seattle's East Waterway for service across
Lake Washington. She was built with large side paddle wheels instead of a
propeller, and she had to be assembled twice—once at the yard, and then
again at Rainier Beach where the superstructure was added—there were no
locks in those days. For 18 years she ran between Leschi Park in Seattle to
Bellevue and Medina on the east side of the lake.
She went into the yard for an extensive rebuild in 1931 and emerged with a
new diesel engine and propellers, but to save money her exterior was not
extensively rebuilt. Her outside staircase from the car deck to the passenger
cabin remained her entire career, and it is one of the easy ways to spot the
Leschi in old postcards. The Leschi continued on Lake Washington even
after the first floating bridge was completed in 1940. Her days were
numbered, though, and she finally was retired from lake service in the summer
Still at work for the King County Ferry District, she was moved to salt water for
the first time and was put to work on the Vashon-Fauntleroy run. The route
was combined with state ownership in 1951. Under WSF, she moved up to the
Mukilteo route, taking over for the Bainbridge which had been retained by
Puget Sound Navigation. For ten years she worked as the backup ferry for
the route, with the Chetzemoka and Olympic.
After winter lay-up in 1961 and the freeing of the Rhododendron for the
Mukilteo route, the Leschi went back to work at Vashon. She worked this route
for three years before returning to Mukilteo, finishing out her career on the
Kingston-Edmonds run on Labor Day, 1967.
Retired and sold in 1969, the Leschi was converted into a cannery and moved
up to Alaska. After being moved to Shotgun Cove, she blew ashore in a gale
and was later abandoned. Over time, her wooden construction finally
succumbed to the elements, collapsing. Today the remains of the Leschi lie
on the beach near Whittier.
In an interesting side note, Chief Leschi, whom the ferry was named after, was
cleared in a "court of history" for any wrongdoing. The author was going to
lobby for one of four new ferries being built to be named Leschi to honor the
chief once again, but the City of Seattle beat me to it.
The new Seattle fireboat has been christened Leschi. Ferryboat or fireboat, it
is a fitting homage.