Ships on Puget Sound in the Early 20th Century

The steamer Blanche coming in to dock at Bush Point, near Freeland, Washington in 1915. This photo shows three of the main types of ships commonly seen in Puget Sound at the start of the 20th Century.

Passenger steamships like the Blanche had been the most common type for local passenger and cargo service around the sound in the Mosquito Fleet since the 1860s.  The Blanche was built in Seattle in 1890, and was still typical of the fleet in 1915.

Car-carrying steamers like the one seen in the upper right were becoming much more common by 1915 - these helped to carry the new traffic of automobiles around the sound, and were the precursors to the current Washington State Ferries in design and function, though these early ones moved cargo as well as passengers and cars. 

Tall sailing ships like the one in the upper left were still a feature of Puget Sound shipping traffic, but were less common in 1915 than they had been even a few years earlier. They were being quickly replaced by large oceangoing steamers.

Capturing these three types of different ships in one snapshot was an excellent job by the photographer! Was he standing on a dock, or on another ship?

To view more photos from our past, visit our online historic photo archive.