Lake Washington ferries

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The Lake Washington ferries in King County, Washington provided the only efficient means for transporting goods and passengers across the lake prior to the opening of the first floating bridge in 1940. The ferries ran between Kirkland, Bellevue, and Houghton across Lake Washington to East Madison Street in Seattle's Madison Park for ten cents each way. They soon became so popular that the King County Port Commission established a public ferry in 1900, competing with private boats. In 1913 a reconfigured side-wheeler steamboat, the wooden Leschi, became the first Seattle-built automobile ferry. By 1922 the county ferry system was in such financial difficulty that it appointed its largest competitor to run the system. The 1940 opening of the Lake Washington floating bridge was the beginning of the end for the lake ferries. However, during World War II the ferries carried workers to the Lake Washington Shipyard, where auxiliary ships were built for the U.S. Navy, and made a tidy profit. A year after the tolls were removed from the floating bridge, the last ferry route was retired, and the boat was sold to the Washington State Ferries, which had taken over the Puget Sound Navigation Company in 1951.