Fortuna (steamboat)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Fortuna - Seattle 1909.jpg
Name: Fortuna
Operator: Anderson Steamboat Company
Launched: 1904, at Leschi, on Lake Washington
General characteristics
Type: inland steamship; auto ferry
Tonnage: 81
Length: 106.9 ft (32.6 m)
Installed power: compound steam engine built at Seattle Machine Works
Notes: Reconstructed as auto ferry in 1919.

The steamboat Fortuna was a vessel that operated on Lake Washington in the first part of the 20th century.


Advertisement for Fortuna, circa 1912.

Fortuna was built in 1904 at a shipyard on the west side of Lake Washington two blocks south of Leschi Park. She was 106.9 feet in length overall, and rated at 81 tons. The vessel is reported to have been acquired by Anderson Steamboat Company at a cost $31,500 in December 1906.[1]

Fortuna was built for Captain John Anderson to join his fleet of steamboats on Lake Washington, operating under the name of the Anderson Steamboat Company. Anderson at that point may have been operating in partnership with the Seattle Street Railway. Fortuna had compound engines that had been built at Seattle Machine Works. .[2]

Fortuna was the Roman name for the goddess of fortune. Captain Anderson named his vessels after classical gods, starting with Xanthus and Cyrene.

Fortuna was known for her distinctive chime whistle, which had been personally prepared by Captain Anderson, filing away at the whistle’s pipe until the sound suited him. Later the whistle was transferred to another Anderson boat, the Sightseer, which became one of the last steamboats of the Mosquito Fleet to operate on Puget Sound.

Conversion to ferry[edit]

Publicly owned ferries (owned by King County on Lake Washington ran Captain Anderson out of the steamboat business by about the time of the First World War, so he sold his interest in the Anderson Steamboat Company. Later, Captain Anderson operated Fortuna and other former vessels of his as a lessee of King County.

In 1919, Fortuna was reconstructed into a ferry at Captain Anderson’s shipyard at Houghton. Unlike most purpose-built ferries, Fortuna remained a single-ender. Automobiles however could drive right through the once-beautiful steamer. The procedure was for Fortuna to dock bow-on at Roanoke, on Mercer Island, have autos drive on, then back out and head for the Seattle ferry dock at Leschi. On reaching Leschi, to unload the autos, Fortuna had to be turned and backed into the dock. This took great skill by her captain and engineer.[3]

Final disposition[edit]

In 1928 King County sold Fortuna to the King Shipbuilding Company of Seattle. The leading source states that she lasted until 1938, but is silent as to her later career or ultimate disposition (probably scrapping).[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Public Service Comm'n vs. Anderson Steamboat Co., Case No. 4348, published in Eighth Annual Report of the Public Service Comm'n of Washington (1918), at page 179. (accessed 06-06-11)
  2. ^ a b Newell, Gordon R., ed., H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, at 119 and 388, Superior Publishing, Seattle, WA 1966
  3. ^ Kline, M.S., and Bayless, G.A., Ferryboats–A Legend on Puget Sound, at 147-153, Bayless Books, Seattle, WA 1983

External links[edit]

Historic photographs of Fortuna from the on-line collection of the University of Washington[edit]