The Winslow terminal on Bainbridge Island endures, as does its nostalgic appeal.
JUDGING MERELY from the cars parked below the hanging Shell sign in J. Boyd Ellis’ photo postcard, this is the Winslow ferry terminal about 1950. By then, the Arlington photographer had given a quarter-century to touring the state and snapping photos. His inventory of Washington landmarks and picturesque landscapes could be found in gift shops, newsstands and drugstores across the state. His son was still at it in the 1970s.
Passing through ferry docks makes me downright nostalgic. In 1950, it was still three or four years before I first came ashore at Winslow, on a trip from Seattle with my oldest brother, Ted, and his best friend, Fred, for my first hiking trip into the Olympics. From here we drove up Bainbridge Island to its north end, where the new Agate Pass Bridge reached the Kitsap mainland. After a protracted campaign, the 1,229-foot span had opened in 1950. With this new shortcut up the island, the motor traffic on State Highway 305 swelled. Today Highway 305 can remind one of traffic on Seattle’s arterials, rather than an escape from them.
Also in 1950, the Leschi, the first car ferry on Lake Washington, made its last cross-lake steam from Seattle. A decade earlier, when the ribbon was cut for the opening of the popularly named Mercer Island floating bridge on July 2, 1940, it was increasingly believed that ferries on Puget Sound — by then most of them purchased from California after the 1937 opening of the Golden Gate Bridge — would be replaced with bridges, such as another floating bridge between West Seattle’s Lincoln Park and Vashon Island. It was, of course, not to be.
We continue to wait through long lineups for tickets at Puget Sound’s many terminals, including this one at Winslow, for what can be comforting cruises across Puget Sound.
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Winslow’s most devoted cruiser likely was E.L. Franks, one of three partners who, in 1902, started the Eagle Harbor Transportation Co., running “Mosquito Fleet” steamers to Seattle and other Puget Sound ports. Forty-nine years later, at age 88, he was still on the Winslow dock, explaining to a Seattle Times reporter, “Ferry riders are easy to get along with.”