Editor's note: To conclude Doug Allen's superb series on the men, women, boats and industries on Willapa Bay we are printing photographs of boats and their builders, with only limited accompanying text.
Perhaps no other tool is invested with so much of the maker's love and soul as a boat. These images speak for themselves, reminding us of a time when transportation by water was part of every person's life, and employment on the water was a chief driver of Pacific County's economy.
Sister ships: Reliable & Shamrock
At 99 tons, the Reliable (1905) was 83 feet long, had a 17 1/2 foot beam, drew 6 feet of water and had a 200 hp engine. It also had a steam winch for the handling of freight. The vessel was built in Astoria by Richard Leathers, as was its sister ship Shamrock.
The Shamrock (1907) was claimed to be slightly larger than the Reliable, but its proportions were almost identical: 99 tons and 83 feet in length. Both vessels were built for Capt. Alfred W. Reed's Willapa Transportation Company. (Reed and businessman W. S. Cram were major stockholders in the transportation company.)
The first master of the Reliable was owner Capt. Reed, with E. M. Gamage the first officer and George Tichlan the chief engineer. A 1911 advertisement stated that passengers could take the Reliable to Tokeland where they could connect with the "Tokeland Beach Flyer," an 11-mile auto ride to Westport. From Westport another steamer would take the travelers to Aberdeen and an auto stage to Olympia. In 1925 the Reliable was cut down to a tug and later sold to the Knappton Towing Company and William Jones of Portland.
In 1909 the two steamers' load limits were increased to 160 passengers each (from 125). Used for many years on the Raymond-South Bend to Nahcotta and Tokeland route, the Shamrock was also converted to a towboat by the Knappton Towing Company of Astoria.
The Reliable and Shamrock discontinued South Bend-Tokeland passenger service after Capt. Martin Hoven's South Bend-Tokeland Ferry Company launched its car ferry service in 1920. With the ferry Independent transporting an steadily increasing number of motor vehicles, by 1925 Captain Hoven was making two daily trips between South Bend and Tokeland during the winter months. (There were several local roads constructed in the county in the 1920s, but none between Tokeland and Raymond. That road, State Route 105, was not built until the 1960s.) The Independent lasted for ten years and was discontinued when the Raymond-Aberdeen highway was completed in 1930.
South Bend's Herb Newton remembers a story about a confused bank robber: "Sometime during World War II there was a robbery on Grays Harbor and the robber was being hunted by local law enforcement. They later found his abandoned car in Tokeland. Inside the car was a 15-year-old map that showed the Tokeland ferry landing. He was about a decade too late 'cause the ferry quit running between Tokeland and South Bend around 1930."
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