This Just In!

Telegraph and Issaquah Ferry Paintings



Telegraph Ferry Painting by Hal Williamson, 1989.


Issaquah Ferry Painting by Hal Williamson, 1986.









This month we received two paintings by Hal Williamson, one of the ferry Telegraph, the other of the ferry Issaquah. Harold “Hal” Williamson and his wife, Dorothy, built a home in Edmonds around 1948 on property her family owned. He worked for the Navy doing full-time contract until he retired in 1973. Around 1985, Mr. Williamson decided to pursue painting, having a love of art from a young age. He taught himself to paint at the age of 71 and specialized in pictures of ships he had worked on and of tugboats he saw performing tasks at sea. He even entered the Foss calendar contest one year and won! Primarily concentrating on  works for private collectors, Mr. Williamson created these paintings for Dick and Karla Brown, completing the painting of the ferry Issaquah 1986 and of the ferry Telegraph in 1989.

The Telegraph Ferry



The Telegraph Ferry on water.


The S.S. Telegraph, a sternwheeler vessel, was built in Everett in 1903 by Portland Shipbuilding Company. At that time it was considered the fastest sternwheeler in the world. It was placed on the Seattle/Everett route to replace the Greyhound under the Seattle-Everett Navigation Company. In 1910, the Puget Sound Navigation Company purchased the Telegraph but it remained on the Seattle/Everett route. On April 25, 1912, the steamship Alameda plowed through the waiting room of the Coleman Dock in Seattle and continued through to make impact with The Telegraph. It sunk but was soon after raised from the bottom and repaired to resume its rounds, running as the “Olympian” on the Seattle to Olympia and Tacoma route. In 1917, the Telegraph was transferred to the Columbia River and was one of the last sternwheelers to run the Portland to The Dalles route.

The Issaquah Ferry


The Issaquah Ferry on water.


The M/V Issaquah is an was an Issaquah 100 Class Auto and Passenger ferry built in 1979. Originally known as Issaquah Class, the Issaquah 100 Class ferries were built for the Washington State Ferries in the early 1980’s. Each Issaquah ferry could carry 1200 passengers and 90 cars. In 1989, the Issaquah was upgrade to an Issaquah 130 Class in. Upgrading included raising the car capacity to 130 cars and refurbishing the interior. The Issaquah ferry spent its early years on the Seattle/Bremerton route. Later, it was shifted around the system for a time before being placed on the Southworth/Vashon/Fauntleroy route, where it still runs today. This shifting may be how the ferry came to be painted at dock in Edmonds.

The Changing Waterfront



The Edmonds Waterfront c. 1891, similar to the background in the Telegraph painting.


The Edmonds waterfront 2004, taken from on board a Washington State Ferry.









The scene behind the Telegraph, according to a note found tucked in the back of the frame, is based on a drawing of Edmonds from the waterfront in 1890. The original drawing came from the archives in Washington D.C. in a Northwest Territory paper dated February 1891. The scene behind the Issaquah is the Edmonds waterfront in 1986. These two paintings, being from the same artist, give us an excellent opportunity to contrast the waterfront of Edmonds from 1890 to 1986. For example, the sawmills that once dominated the waterfront are present in the Telegraph painting. By contrast, the sawmills are absent in the Issaquah painting. There are many more differences we could point out but we’ll let you discover those for yourself!

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