Seattle’s Mosquito Fleet

Washington Ferry at Night

Ferryboats have been active on Puget Sound since 1889. The City of Seattle offered the first scheduled service between Seattle and West Seattle. It was a bargain at 5 cents per passenger. Ferry system competition between privately owned boats, known as the “Mosquito Fleet”, was intense. The Black Ball Line became dominant in the 1930’s, owning the major routes, terminals and boats. With the arrival of the automobile the ferries became an extension of the state highway system, and a valuable part of commerce. In 1951 the State of Washington bought the company. This was the basis for the nation’s largest network of ferries. All ferryboats bear Indian names, except for one class of boats. This Northwest tradition is maintained in respect for the first vessels to cross the Sound, the Indian canoes.

The text for this post was paraphrased from a plaque aboard the ferry Hyak, which we happened to take both coming and going to Lopez Island. The photograph with this post was taken of another passing ferryboat, while we were returning to the mainland, on Sunday night, aboard the Hyak again.