The ferry boat Kalakala sailed
At its debut in 1935, the Kalakala was the largest and fastest ferry on
Although still a popular attraction at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, by that time the ship had neared the end of its useful life. The Kalakala was auctioned off in 1967 to an
This ends the happy part of the story.
The foundation’s efforts to restore the Kalakala did not meet with success. The ship was first moored at a pier on the
There the Kalakala received complaints as an eyesore and as a hazard. The foundation slipped further into debt and the property owner issued an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent. In March 2003, the foundation filed bankruptcy, its assets (the Kalakala) valued at less than its liabilities ($1.2 million). In September 2003, after a complicated and disputatious auction, Tumwater entrepreneur Steve Rodrigues purchased the ship for $135,560, planning to make it into a dinner theater.
Because the Kalakala had been evicted from
The U.S. Coast Guard and the State Department of Natural Resources also ordered Kalakala out. In September 2004, Rodrigues had the forlorn vessel towed to a new berth on the Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma.
Finding the Kalakala was not easy. Moored in the least industrious part of the Port of Tacoma and not visible from any nearby roads, she is tied to a rotted pier behind an abandoned building and a storage lot.
Kalakala is still in restorable condition. For nearly three decades, her various owners have dreamed of bringing her back to her former glory, but it looks like that might be a long time in coming.
Photographs courtesy of C. Tolzmann. All rights reserved.