Last updated on: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:38 PM (Pacific)
Alaska News Nightly Radio November 10th 2009

CFlying Bird (Part 1)

Flying Bird (Part 2)

Historic Kalakala

Galloping Gertie

Alaska Film Archives

MV Kalakala

Steel Electric Class

Famous Peabody's of the Past

The KALAKALA story begins with another ship in San Francisco . . .

April 29, 1926, 4:30 PM
Keel laid for the PERALTA at Moore Dry Dock, Oakland California.

October 14, 1926 PERALTA launched
The PERALTA and her later sister ship, the YERBA BUENA are the last two steam ships built in San Francisco Bay.

Peralta is put into service for Key Transit Co. in San Francisco. The Key Line operated trolley cars that would descend from town out onto the pier and into a terminal building, where passengers could step from their trolly and onto a ferry boat with out getting their head wet.

KALAKALA's original incarnation as San Francisco Bay Ferry, PERALTA
Vernon J. Sappers Collection
May 6, 1933 - 10:30 PM
An arson fire burns the Key Line terminal in Oakland where the PERALTA is moored. Her boilers cooled down for the night, she has no power to leave her berth. Three Key Line employees, trapped in the blazing terminal, break one of the windows and jump to the PERALTA, rescuing the day's receipts ($8000). They cut the mooring lines and give her a push, but she does not drift far. The men are rescued, but soon her superstructure is a roasted, tangle, smoldering mess. With the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge under construction, the California legislature out laws ferry service and the PERALTA is passed on to the insurance underwriters.

The PERALTA fire - artist's rendition

September 1933
Capt. Alexander Peabody, Puget Sound Navigation Co. aka the Black Ball Line, purchases the hull of the PERALTA for $6,500.

October 12, 1933
The tug CREOLE begins towing the hull of the PERALTA up the coast to Puget Sound arriving at Lake Washington Shipyard in Houghton, near Kirkland, WA, Oct. 20th.

After dinner one night, the blue prints for the new ferry are laid out on the Peabody's dining room table. Mrs. Peabody says 'She ought to be more rounded!' and the design is radically altered to become the World's First Streamlined Vessel.

Boeing engineer and airplane model maker, Louis Proctor, moonlighting for Capt. Peabody, shapes a 5' builders model of the new streamlined design.

Mrs. Peabody poses with the builder's model from which the KALAKALA was built.
Seattle PI Collection / MOHAI
November 1934
Lake Washington Shipyards, Kirkland, WA, construction begins on the World's First Streamlined Vessel! Construction and the shipyard work is supervised by James Murphy and naval architect Helmuth W. Schmitz, who completes the blue print drawings.

PERALTA hull at Lake Washington Shipyard, November 1934
John F. Snapp photograph

William Thorniley, fun loving publicist for the Black Ball Line, names the new ferry "KALAKALA" which means 'flying bird' in the local Chinook Indian language. Thorniley launches a national promotional blitz beginning with bill boards that simply say KALAKALA! Later they say "KALAKALA, Seattle, WA", and finally concluded with a picture of the vessel as well.

July 1, 1935
The Kalakala's maiden voyage is delayed. On July 2nd she is moved to Todd Shipyard in Elliot Bay and for finishing touches

July 3, 1935 12:45 PM
The KALAKALA commences her maiden voyage with great fanfare. With confetti and ticker tape, an estimated 100,000 citizens crowd Coleman Dock and the adjacent water-front to witness this remarkable event. Under command of Capt. Wallace Mangan the KALAKALA makes a speed of 17.3 knots and is expected to do better after refinements are made. On board are 500 guests of the Puget Sound Navigation Company. 8000 people greet her as she makes port in Bremerton at 4:00PM. At 4:30PM she departs with 2000 school children for a cruise of the sound and upon her return she is open to the public from 6:00 till Midnight when she leaves to return to Seattle.

This photo shows how revolutionary the KALAKALA was in 1935, compared to the BAINBRIDGE, a typical ferry of the day.
Don Gray Collection

July 4, 1935
The KALAKALA starts daily service from Seattle to Bremerton. Starting at 6:30 am, she makes six round trips daily. Fares are 45 cents for passengers and $1.10 for autos and driver. Every evening at 8:30 she leaves Seattle for a 'Moonlight Cruise' that lasts until 12:30am. Cost is $1.00 per couple to dance to Joe Bowen and the "Flying Bird Orchestra". the red velvet chairs in the forward cabin are moved aside to provide a dance floor and music is electrically piped throughout the ship to all decks.

Postcards circulate around the country, showing off Seattle's newest ferryboat. The KALAKALA is an international sensation. News reels, magazines and Sunday supplements carry stories. The Seattle Chamber of Commerce predicts that the success of the KALAKALA will lead to contracts for new ships in local shipyards.

An early promotional postcard of the KALAKALA

August 1935
Orthopedic Hospital provides a party and excursion aboard the KALAKALA. Entertainment is provided and prizes are given out. All proceeds go to the hospital. This party also coincides with Potlatch week, a local celebration. Local newspapers note that most visitors are coming to see the KALAKALA, which they describe as already world famous.

November 4, 1936
KALAKALA and the ferry CHIPPEWA collide in Rich Passage and tears a 40-foot hole in the latter. The KALAKALA is only dented and breaks some windows. Five cars on the CHIPPEWA are demolished.

The KALAKALA featured in National Geographic Magazine, 1938.

Late 1930's
More defense workers commuting to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard cause increase in the number of runs to Bremerton.

July 2, 1940
To celebrate the opening of the Tacoma Narrows bridge, the KALAKALA is chosen to make the final run at the narrows. This also celebrates her 5th anniversary. Four months later the infamous "Galloping Gertie" bridge crashes into the water.

The KALAKALA makes the final run across the Tacoma Narrows
Tacoma Public Library

The KALAKALA is estimated to have already carried six million passengers since starting service. Car capacity is now considered to be 85 cars.

December 7, 1941
Pearl Harbor is bombed by Japan! Bremerton Navy Yard is instantly working around the clock to repair our damaged navy. Because of tremendous naval yard expansion the KALAKALA carries as many 5000 shipyard workers and sailors per trip. The KALAKALA /CHIPPEWA schedule increases from 14 round trips daily to 23 by adding two more ferries, the WILLIPA and the ENETAI. As thousands of workers commute to Bremerton day and night, vandalism plague's the KALAKALA to the tune of $500 a month. Chairs are broken and thrown overboard along with life rings and rope (A critical wartime material). At one point pranksters light a fire under the chair of a sleeping worker. Navy Shore Patrols are stationed abroad to stop damage and beer sales are stopped. The showers onboard the KALAKALA are turned off and the taproom is closed. The men's lounge remains and becomes a good place to catch a nap.

Passengers have to check in all cameras and binoculars because of the close proximity of the Bremerton ferry dock to the naval shipyard. The MALTA joins the Bremerton run. 29 trips are run daily with the KALAKALA being the leading carrier. For her relentless war effort, he KALAKALA earns the nickname, 'The Workhorse of Puget Sound'.

The KALAKALA rams a barge off Glover Point, knocking two railroad cars into Puget Sound. The KALAKALA is barely damaged - and found not to be at fault.

As the ferry CITY OF SACRAMENTO leaves Seattle to deliver the crew of an aircraft carrier, the KALAKALA happens to leave at the same time. Capt. Ole Rindal, usually the skipper of the KALAKALA, but today on the SACRAMENTO, urges Chief Engineer Henry Mehus to give him full steam and a race between the two vessels occurs. CITY OF SACRAMENTO wins the race when Rindel, because of a high tide, cleverly cuts inside Orchard Rocks to beat the KALAKALA to Bremerton. Capt. Rindal is called on the carpet, not for safety reasons, but for publicly embarrassing the flagship of the fleet.

The KALAKALA begins weekend excursion cruises between Seattle and Victoria, BC. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays she would leave Lenore Street Dock at 9 AM, and return at 10:15 PM, with a 2 hour 15-minute stay in Victoria.

August 1945
To celebrate V-J Day, the Black Ball Line honors it's employees with two free evening cruises on the KALAKALA.

February 4, 1946
The KALAKALA receives the first commercial radar, FCC license # 001.

March 1947
The KALAKALA and other ferries are tied up during an engineer's strike - the first in several events that eventually lead to the state takeover of the ferry system.

The KALAKALA, Willapa and Illahee idled by the engineer's strike in 1947.

August 1949
The KALAKALA rams Colman Dock. Witnesses declare that it looked like she would continue up Marion to 1st. Ave. The KALAKALA suffers a small hole and is taken out of service for only one day. Colman Dock is closed for six months.

December 30, 1950
The Puget Sound Navigation Company receives an offer from Gov. Arthur Langlie of the state of Washington to purchase the nation's largest privately owned ferry system for $3.5 million. The Black Ball Line is allowed to repurchase the CHINOOK (for $3.5 million!) and transfers her to the Vancouver - Nanaimo run for the Black Ball Line still operating in British Columbia.

June 1, 1951
The KALAKALA becomes a Washington State Ferry

June 1955
WSF assigns the KALAKALA to the Port Angeles-Victoria run restoring service at the request of the Governor and the premier of B.C. The KALAKALA is greeted by a fireboat with all nozzles spouting on her initial entrance to Victoria Harbor. Thousands of people attend. A Kiltie band piped the passengers ashore. Mayor Claude Harrison presents Capt. A. F. Eikum with a bronze plaque commemorating inauguration of WSF service across the strait. Four round trips are planned daily. Departing Port Angeles at 6 AM, 10 AM, 2 PM and 6 PM.

The KALAKALA in Victoria as a Washington State Ferry

The original propeller is replaced with a larger 5-blade propeller. The KALAKALA 's legendary vibration is reduced by 40%.

The new 100 car COHO replaces the KALAKALA on the Port Angeles-Victoria run. The KALAKALA returns to the Seattle-Bremerton run, relegated to standby service in winter months.

The KALAKALA is festooned with banners at port and starboard promoting Century 21 for the Seattle World Fair.

Festooned with banners for the Seattle World's Fair, 1962. Joe Williamson Collection
Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society

In a poll, Seattle World Fair visitors vote the KALAKALA the second biggest attraction, after the Space Needle.

March 1964
On Good Friday, the great Alaskan Earth Quake creates a huge tsunami that decimates all shore based seafood canneries.

The KALAKALA is at Todd shipyards for repairs when a fire breaks out. Although many ships are burned, the KALAKALA 's drydock is towed to safety and she suffers no damage.

The KALAKALA narrowly escapes the Todd Shipyard Fire of 1964. Tugboats tow her drydock to safety.

Mid 1960s
The KALAKALA works seven-day service during the summer months and is moved to weekend work off-season. Because cars are getting bigger her bow doors are removed and the bow and stern openings are cut wide to load two lanes of cars at a time.

February 21, 1966
The KALAKALA rams the brand new WSF ferry terminal in Seattle. The rammed slip is out of commission for two months. The KALAKALA returns to service in a few weeks.

July 1966
T the 160-car superferry HYAK starts on the Bremerton-Seattle run. The HYAK 's speed and capacity enables her to replace the KALAKALA and one other Bremerton ferry, the WILLAPA.

October 2, 1967
The KALAKALA completes her final run as a WSF ferry and is moored at Eagle Harbor in Winslow. She is sold to high bidder Robert Ressoff of American Freezerships Co., and be converted to a crab-processing vessel for Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The KALAKALA moored at Eagle Harbor in 1963 along with WSF"s "extra boats," clockwise from KALAKALA: KLAHANIE, CHETZEMOKA, VASHON, SKANSONIA, CROSLINE and SAN MATEO. Harre Demoro photo.

August 1968
The ANDREW FOSS tows the KALAKALA to her new home in Alaska. She was towed instead of sailing under her own power because it was less expensive than to travel under her own power.

Summer, 1970
The KALAKALA is purchased by W R Grace Co. and moved to Ouzinkie, Alaska where she processes crab for 5 months. Her mighty engine runs for the last time as she has a 'problem with one of the pistons.'

November 1970
The KALAKALA is moved to Gibson Cove in Kodiak, Alaska. On Thanksgiving Day, on a high tide she is floated onto a pre-made bed of sand and bulldozers backfill around her with tons of rock to hold her like a building. She is converted to process shrimp. Still wanting to float on the subsequent high tides, problems ensue when water and offal lines break. Shrimp boats cannot easily unload.

An early photo of the KALAKALA aground in Kodiak.

WR Grace Co. sells the KALAKALA to New England Fish Company.

New England Fish Company goes bankrupt, sells the KALAKALA to Alaska Food Products Company. Captain Peabody dies at the age of 85.

Alaska Food Products Company defaults on loans and goes bankrupt. State of Alaska assumes ownership of the KALAKALA and tries to sell her.

Pete Bevis, on his first commercial fishing trip, first lays eyes on the abandoned streamlined KALAKALA in Gibson Cove. Pete, a sculptor, is fascinated with 'those elegant curves and wondrous portholes'!

City of Kodiak purchases the KALAKALA from the State of Alaska and tries to sell her.

Pete Bevis boards the KALAKALA for the first time and offers the City of Kodiak $1,000 cash for a six month option to refloat her. His offer is turned down.

Pete Bevis forms the nonprofit Kalakala Foundation. Philip Crifasi of Tinton Falls, NJ personally completed all the due-diligence for getting the Kalakala afloat by corresponding with all public and regulatory agencies. She was considered by the State of Alaska Historical Society as potentially eligible for National
Historic registration. This presented many complications for unearthing the vessel. But, Mr. Philip Crifasi succeeded in this effort that made it all possible to bring her back to Seattle. This truly opened the final efforts to Peter Bevis, but Philip had a financial plan different than Bevis. Crifasi stepped down to let Bevis proceed without him. Crifasi still had the best financial master plan that would have made it succeed in Seattle. Bevis failed financially and the Foundation he created went Bankrupt and was forced to sell September, 2003 to "Lost Horizons".

Bevis returns to Kodiak with the first "dream team" and starts preparing the KALAKALA for refloating. Technically, they are trespassing, but they are left alone and allowed to proceed with the clean up.

June 24, 1998
On Capt Alexander's birthday, with over 700 tons of debris removed and repairs completed, the KALAKALA is refloated. She undergoes additional preparations in Women's Bay, including the refabrication of her bow doors.

The KALAKALA floats free again!
Seattle Times photo.

October 20, 1998
At the height of the storm season, the KALAKALA begins the tow home across the Gulf of Alaska. Odd Johnson, skippers the tug NEPTUNE owned and operated by Fred Dahl of Dahl Tug and Barge.

November 8, 1998
The KALAKALA triumphantly reenters Elliot Bay after 32 years. She is moored at Bell Street, Pier 66 where thousands wait in line over the Holidays for a chance to tour her once elegant decks.

The Kalakala enters Elliot Bay, November 6, 1998

March 17, 1999
The KALAKALA is moved from Bell Street Pier to north Lake Union where restoration continues with an all-volunteer crew.

July 4, 2000
The City of Seattle and Coast Guard shut down the KALAKALA 's onboard fundraisers for lack of a second fire escape from the bow. The Foundation's operating cash is severely impacted. The city declares the KALAKALA is sticking out 32' too far and will have to move or face $75/day fines. Port Angeles and San Francisco offer her a home. Seattle risks losing the KALAKALA for a second and final time.

April 2001
The city of Seattle declares the KALAKALA poses no actual hazard to navigation and can stay put. The Kalakala Foundation board unanimously declines all offers to move the KALAKALA out of Seattle, and brings together local business people to create the Kalakala Foundation's new Business Plan itemizing restoration costs and projecting income from future operations.

September 15, 2001
The Kalakala Foundation Board of Trustees unveils the the new Business Plan at our annual meeting. The plan calls for the KALAKALA to be used as a museum of the Art Deco Era, exhibition space, with events, catering, tours, merchandising and reopening the famous double horseshoe lunch counter. The Seattle waterfront at Pioneer Square is selected as the best place on planet earth for her home-port. The plan demonstrates her ability to generate revenue in excess of her operating costs and restoration debt service.

November 6, 2001
The Seattle City Council issues a Proclamation, recognizing the third anniversary of the KALAKALA 's homecoming, commending the heroic efforts of Pete Bevis and the Kalakala Foundation, and voices unanimous support of the restoration objectives. All members of the City Council and the Mayor of Seattle sign the Proclamation.

September 10, 2002
The Port of Seattle Commissioners turn down a proposal to create a permanent home port for the restored KALAKALA at Pier 66 - the Bell Harbor Cruise Ship Terminal and Conference Center. The Foundation had been working on the proposal with Port staff and Port hospitality contractors for several months. The proposal would have netted the Port over $ 5.5 million in revenue in return for backstopping tax exempt bonds to fund the restoration of the historic ferry.

October 15, 2002
The Maritime Heritage Foundation formally requests temporary moorage for the KALAKALA at the former Naval Reserve Building at South Lake Union - where Seattle's historic ships fleet is currently moored on city property. The KALAKALA faces eviction from her market-rate moorage by year-end.

October 24, 2002
The City of Seattle rejects the request to provide the KALAKALA temporary moorage at the Maritime Heritage Center on South Lake Union. The Mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels, asks the Parks Department to work with the Kalakala Foundation to establish a permanent homeport at the Washington Street Boat Landing at the foot of Pioneer Square.

December 31, 2002
The KALAKALA faces eviction from her location at North Lake Union. The City of Seattle rejects the Kalakala Foundation's request to moor at Sand Point based on inability to provide a $1 million performance bond - which the underwriters will not write. The Kalakala Foundation board of trustees gives executive director one more month to find a solution that will save the Kalakala, or else the vessel will have to be put up for sale.

January 31, 2003
The Kakalaka Foundation board of trustees publishes a request for proposals, officially putting the vessel up for sale to pay off the creditors.

Feburary 21, 2003
The RFP deadline passes with no viable offers.

March 14, 2003
The Kakalaka Foundation board of trustees files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The court will appoint a trustee to oversee the liquidation of the Foundation, and determine the future of the KALAKALA.

September 13, 2003
The KALAKALA is sold at auction. In subsequent days, the first and second bidders are declared by the auction house to be in default.

September 29, 2003
The auction house declares KALAKALA is sold to the third bidder, "Lost Horizons."

October 10, 2003
The federal bankruptcy judge approves the sale of the KALAKALA to Steven Rodrigues' company "Lost Horizons." Rodrigues pledges to restore the ferry to her former glory and operate her as a waterfront attraction, visiting the ports of Puget Sound.

March 9-10, 2004
The KALAKALA is towed to a new temporary moorage in Neah Bay, Washington where she is moored courtesy of the Makah Tribal Council.

The KALAKALA heads through the Ballard Locks, March 9, 2004.
Art Skolnik Photo.

September 24th, 2004
The KALAKALA is towed to her new home in Tacoma, WA.

September 24th, 2004
The KALAKALA is towed to her new home in Tacoma, WA.

The KALAKALA heads down the pugeot Sound September 25th, 2004.

The KALAKALA heads down the pugeot Sound September 25th, 2004.

September 25th, 2004
The KALAKALA 1:30pm: The Kalakala has arrived in her new home. For the next year she will undergo repairs to the hull, outer skin, and interior, along with a new paint job. The Kalakala's moorage and main office are located at 1801 Taylor Way in Tacoma on the south shore of the Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma.

The KALAKALA arrives at her new home in Tacoma, WA September 25th, 2004.

October 14th, 2004
The Kalakala, now berthed in Tacoma's Hylebos Waterway, has finally been welcomed and is being given moorage for $1 a month. Craig Mar Chun (center, blue shirt) and Karl Anderson (left background, on wooden walkway) helped the famous ferry find another home.

The KALAKALA at her new home in Tacoma, WA October 14th, 2004.

We will be taking the Kalakala to Martinac Shipyard, Tacoma, WA. for painting the Kalakala exterior and some of the interior during 2005-2006.