This was once the second most photographed object in the world. Author Steven J. Pickens said that in its heyday, only the Eiffel Tower attracted more shutter snaps.
This is the green and grey rusting metal sitting on the side of a trail in Kirkland. People ask when the unsightly “junk” will be removed or muse about a new outhouse.
This is the Kalakala, or what remains of it. Born as the Peralta and originally running on routes in the San Francisco Bay, the Kalakala literally arose from the ashes of its original incarnation.
This Art Deco ferry carried people across the Puget Sound from 1935 to 1967. Post-1967, she went to Alaska to serve as a fish processor and cannery.
An effort to bring her back to Washington succeeded, but the money needed to bring her back to life never materialized. She sat disintegrating in various locales until the decision was finally made to auction off pieces of her instead of trying to save the whole boat.
The City of Kirkland successfully bid to save large pieces of the ferry and will be preserving it as part of an art project.
It’s fitting that the “mother ship” (above) has come home to Kirkland. The Kalakala was built in Kirkland and after decades of wandering around, will live on, resurrected for a second time.
The sun may be setting on the remains of the Kalakala, but right now it’s like a seed in the ground, waiting to pop up in the spring.
I see you! The portholes look like the eyes of a giant spider.
I believe these are the car doors. You can see a list of the parts that were salvaged here. You can also see a beautiful picture of the Kalakala on the wall of Kirkland City Hall outside of the Peter Kirk Room.
The Kalakala could carry thousands of passengers and many vehicles. People liked to hang out of these futuristic windows as they cruised across the water. Since the Kalakala was still operating at the time of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, its photographic popularity that year was only eclipsed by the Space Needle.
Here is another look at what was saved.
Nearly a century after its construction, the Kalakala eagerly awaits a place in the public eye again.
There are many photos and videos of the Kalakala online including this one-minute video showing the ferry in motion.
Could you imagine riding this during the Great Depression? You must have felt like you were on a spaceship.
This is another short video that shows some of the interior as well. There is more on YouTube.
Steven J. Pickens, author of Ferries of Puget Sound, plans to release an update to that book soon. The original follows the lives of Puget Sound ferries up to 2006. You may be shocked at what has happened to some of the boats we’ve commuted on for decades.
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