The Venerable M. V. Kehloken

The photograph included here of the UW Husky rowing crew was taken in front of the old Lake Washington Shipyard (today’s Carillon Point) in 1977. So, while the image is newer than most we feature on this site, there is definitely history surrounding it.

The craft in the background is the M. V. Kehloken, a 239-foot, all-wood, diesel-electric ferry that rolled off the ways in 1927, in Alameda, California, and was brought north to Puget Sound in 1937. She began work on the Suquamish-Indianola-Seattle run but, after a few years, took over the Seattle-Winslow route. Likely her saddest task was transporting Bainbridge Island residents of Japanese ancestry who were sent to internment camps during World War II.

The stately M. V. Kehloken was retired in 1972 and sold. Her new owners towed her to Houghton in 1975 and tied her up at the site of the former Lake Washington Shipyards. They planned to turn her into a clubhouse / restaurant. In 1979, the ferry, and much of the dock she was moored to, caught fire and she tragically burned to the waterline.

In 1983, the ferry’s remains were cleaned up, towed off the south end of Whidbey Island, and scuttled in 80 feet of water. Thusly, the old M. V. Kehloken began the final stage of her long life as an artificial reef, and it is a popular angling and diving site today. After more than three decades on the bottom, she has accumulated considerable growth, which make her home to an abundance of varied marine life, an oasis on an otherwise barren, sandy bottom.

The M. V. Kehloken at rest (courtesy Ryan Amberfield)
Close-up of the M. V. Kehloken with a friend (courtesy Ryan Amberfield)

Note: A version of this article was previously published in the Kirkland Views blog.

UW Husky rowing crew off Houghton, 1977. The retired ferry M.V. Kehloken was a well-remembered waterfront fixture of that era. (courtesy Seattle Times)
The M. V. Kehloken during her Puget Sound years, circa 1940s.
The site of today’s Carillon Point served as the Seattle Seahawks’ practice and training facility in the late 1970’s. The M. V. Kehloken cane be seen in the background of the 1978 team photo. (courtesy Seattle Seahawks)
The M. V. Kehloken and adjacent piers burned in 1979. (courtesy Seattle Times)