At top, the Skansonia's original lunch counter, which had a distinct art deco feel.  Courtesy of TPL.   Above,
once crowded with DeSotos, Packards and Studebakers, the car deck now hosts weddings, banquets and
social events.  Courtesy of Matt Masuoka.
Immortality, of a sort...

The wooden wonder of Gig Harbor is still serving the public, though as a wedding and party venue on Lake Union where she has been moored for well over twenty years.

The ferry has suffered a little bit for her prolonged use, as she now sits in a cradle and is not floating strictly on her own.  This will help preserve the ferry.

There are some small reminders of her previous life.  A few bits of  signage from the Washington State Ferries era exist on board.

Top, courtesy of Guy de Gouville.
Bottom, courtesy of Matt Masuoka.  

Official Number: 229088 Radio Call Number: WA7467 Built: Skansie Brothers Shipyard, Gig Harbor, WA, 1929.
Lengeth: 164' 6" Beam: 50' 11" Draft: 8' 8"  Auto Deck Clearance: 11' Speed: 8 Knots Propulsion: Fairbanks-Morse Diesel   Autos: 32 Passengers: 465.
FINAL DISPOSITION: In service, albeit stationary as a wedding and event center on Lake Union.  See link below.

The Skansonia arrives at Tahlequah.  Williamson/MOHAI/Color by the author.
Sitting on Lake Union is a ferry that was once familiar to
hundreds commuting between Point Defiance and Vashon
Island.  The small
Skansonia, which sailed for Washington
State Ferries on the route for nearly 20 years on the run is
today largely forgotten.

Constructed in 1929 by the Skansie Brother shipyard for their
Washington Navigation Company, the
Skansonia and her near
twin sister Defiance worked from Point Defiance—
sailing to Gig Harbor and
Skansonia to Tahlequah.

The ferry would have quite a long life span, considering that
from keel-laying to her first day of service only took  a total of
12 weeks.  The wooden wonder was put out of a job briefly in
1940 when the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened. By
October of that year, the span was at the bottom of the
Narrows, having collapsed in a wind storm.  The State of
Washington, now in charge of keeping the severed state
highway open, purchased the
Skansonia, Defiance and City of
from the bankrupt Washington Navigation Company.
PSN purchased the Point Defiance-Tahlequah run and put the
Vashonia on that route.

From fall 1940 until 1950 the
Skansonia shuttled cars and
passengers from Gig Harbor on the Kitsap Peninsula to
Tacoma. Finally, in October of 1950 the new Tacoma Narrows
Bridge opened, the Gig Harbor route ceased operation.

Skansonia, already State property, became part of the new
Washington State Ferries 1951. (The other two ferries the
state purchased from the Washington Navigation Company,
Defiance and City of Tacoma were sold in April of 1951.)  
Skansonia was assigned to work between Point Defiance and
Tahlequah, the route she was most suited for, given her
astoundingly slow speed of about 8 knots.

From 1951 and for nearly the next two decades, the little
Skansonia worked the route, losing it only when a new steel
ferry specially constructed for the route took over. The
Skansonia made her last crossing from Tahlequah to Point
Defiance on 20 July 1967, surrendering the route to the new

On 14 September 1969 she returned to Eagle Harbor and was
tied up. Declared surplus in 1971, the ferry was sold and
moved to Lake Washington, where for several years she was
used as a private residence.

In the mid 1980's she was renovated as a banquet hall and
moved to Lake Union, where she has been ever since. She's
been very successful in this capacity, having hosted hundreds
of weddings over the last 30-plus years.