Historic Kirkland Ferry Clock Restored to Original Shape, Unveiling Feb. 10

Led by volunteer Sue Contreras and Kirkland Heritage Society president Loita Hawkinson, a group of residents raised the money to restore the 1935 clock, and it will be back at its traditional spot at Lake Street and Kirkland Ave downtown early next mont


The historic 1935 ferry clock that time and residents of Kirkland did not forget will be unveiled at its traditional location on the corner of Lake Street and Kirkland Avenue on Feb. 10 -- completely restored to its original condition, but with a brand new state-of-the-art mechanism.

The public is invited to see the unveiling of the restored timepiece, at 1 p.m.

Thanks are due largely to Kirkland super volunteer Sue Contreras, Kirkland Heritage Society president Loita Hawkinson, and a host of citizens and business that donated some $12,000 to restore this last tangible artifact of the storied 20th Century years when steam ferries plied Lake Washington.

“I think it’s absolutely great,” says Contreras, who first talked about restoring the clock back in March of 2011. “It’s part of Kirkland’s history, we couldn’t let it go. I guess perseverance has paid off.”

The ferry clock stood at the corner of Lake Street and Kirkland Ave beginning in 1935, a lighted red arrow on it pointing the way to the nearby steam ferry landing at today’s Marina Park, the ferry schedule listed below. In September of 2011, the quaint but deteriorating timepiece, which had long since stopped at 1:33 o’clock and had already been rescued once, was taken down and stowed away in a city of Kirkland maintenance shop.

Long before the floating bridges, ferries served Kirkland, landing at the foot of Market Street beginning in 1888. The ferry landing was moved to where the city marina is now at the foot of Kirkland Ave some years later when the old Redmond/Kirkland Road -- long since replaced by today's 85th Street -- was completed. For decades steam ferries plied the lake between Kirkland, Houghton, Bellevue, Madison Park in Seattle and other points.

The clock was donated in January of 1935 to Kirkland by ferry magnate Capt. John Anderson, a Swede who arrived in Seattle in 1888, launched the Anderson Steamboat Co in Houghton in 1908 and became the pivotal figure in the business.

The first floating bridge in 1940 spelled the beginning of the end, and the runs dwindled to just that between Kirkland and Madison Park, until finally the ferry Leschi blew her last whistle on Aug. 31 of 1950.

City Public Works Department grounds crew lead Mark Padgett shepherded the restoration, which was performed by the company SuperGraphics in Seattle. But the city gave no money to the effort. Other than a $1,500 King County grant, the restoration was funded by contributions.

And Contreras says the clock, altered by previous work, is back to its original incarnation. “Thanks to Loita, it’s not just running again, its got a state of the art mechanism that keeps it on time and its back to its original condition,” says Contreras. “She said, ‘If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right and restore it to its original condition.’”

You’ll be able to witness a little part of history on Feb. 10, when time marches on for the Kirkland ferry clock.

John L Peterson February 01, 2013 at 03:18 AM
The ferries last run was not caused by the initial building of the Floating Bridge, but was in fact the result of the tolls on the bridge being removed. At that point the ferries no longer could compete. I was very young then, but my parents took me on the last ferry run from Kirkland to Seattle and back.
Loita Hawkinson February 03, 2013 at 02:54 AM
The details of why the ferries stopped running are wide. One other reason was the forty hour work week. The captains and crew had to be paid for all time served over forty hours. Captain Anderson tried in vain to keep city buses off the I-90 bridge. Kirkland fought long and hard to keep the ferry. It was a romantic time in history.
Greg Johnston February 03, 2013 at 05:41 AM
The story didn't say the bridge caused the last run John. The story says only that "The first floating bridge in 1940 spelled the beginning of the end."


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