For most of the previous 80 years, Madison Park had been a critical link in the Lake Washington transportation system. But on that day, August 31, 1950, Madison Park, at least in transportation terms, simply became the end of the road.
The opening of the first Lake Washington floating bridge in 1940 had been the beginning of the end for ferry service on the Lake, but it took another decade for the era to finally draw to a close. Regularly scheduled ferry service between Madison Park and Kirkland had begun in 1900, but as we chronicled last summer (“Steamboat Days on Lake Washington”), Madison Park had long served as a vital transportation hub connecting communities on the eastside with Seattle. Once it became possible for cars to drive across the Lake, however, the economics of the Lake ferries became problematic.
The Leschi was the last of several ferries that had made the Madison Park-Kirkland run in the fifty-year history of the route, which was operated by the King County Ferry System. The Ferry Lincoln had served on the route for 25 years, up to the point where the floating bridge was inaugurated.
Although the Leschi later saw service on both the Vashon-Fauntleroy and Mukilteo-Clinton runs, sadly she eventually ended up as a rusting hulk on a beach outside of Whittier, Alaska.
[Photos of the Leschi, top and bottom, from evergreenfleet.com. Middle photo, showing the Leschi at the Kirkland ferry dock, courtesy of the Kirkland Heritage Society.]