Puget Sound Navigation Company
||It has been suggested that Neah Bay Dock Company be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since November 2015.|
The Puget Sound Navigation Company (PSNC) was founded by Charles E. Peabody in 1898. It operated a fleet of steamboats and ferries on Puget Sound in Washington and the Georgia Strait in British Columbia. Known colloquially as the Black Ball Line, the PSNC achieved a "virtual monopoly" on cross-sound traffic in the 1930s and competed with the Canadian Pacific Railway's steamships on several routes.
Before 1927, when the company was controlled by Joshua Green, the house flag consisted of a design by Mrs. Green, a red star on a white diamond on a blue background. After 1927, when Joshua Green sold his interest to the Peabody family, the Black Ball company flag was transferred over to Puget Sound Navigation Co., and the company became known as the Black Ball Line.
PSNC began to struggle following World War II, as operating costs increased and its unions threatened strike action. PSNC petitioned the State Utilities Commission for permission to raise its fares, but was rebuffed. Following a long series of court battles, PSNC's unionized employees finally called a strike. The company responded not by hiring strike breakers, but by halting operations, hoping public pressure would convince the State to permit a fare increase. The State declined to intervene, and PSNC eventually sold its domestic operations assets to the state of Washington's Department of Transportation for the sum of $4.9 million in early 1951, creating Washington State Ferries on May 31.
PSNC retained the assets used in their Canadian operations and, after the 1951 downsizing, operated a much-reduced fleet of five ships as Black Ball Ferries, Ltd. on routes between Vancouver and Nanaimo, and across Howe Sound and Jervis Inlet. The first all-Canadian route began on August 11, 1951 and was between Horseshoe Bay (in West Vancouver) and Gibsons Landing on BC's Sunshine Coast. In November 1961, this company sold most of its assets to BC Ferries, which had commenced operations in June 1960 as a division of the British Columbia Toll Highways and Bridges Authority, a Crown corporation of the British Columbia provincial government.
The current descendant of the Black Ball Line is Black Ball Ferry Line, which currently operates only one route between Port Angeles, WA and Victoria, BC, using the MV Coho. Originally Black Ball Line had a second service known as Black Ball Freight Service which was a subsidiary of the Puget Sound Navigation. It is unclear when the subsidiary was created. In 1936 R.J. Acheson purchased the subsidiary. In 1952, Acheson and his wife organized a new subsidiary of Black Ball Freight Service, naming it Black Ball Transport, Inc. By 2008 Black Ball Transport was renamed to its current name. Black Ball Freight Service ended in 2008.
- Stein, Alan J. (2001). Safe Passage The Birth of Washington State Ferries Seattle: Sodexho-Marriott Corp. ISBN 0-9664745-1-1., p. 9
- Alan J. Stein (June 1, 2001). "The Sound and the Ferry: The Birth of Washington State Ferries". HistoryLink. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
- Newell, Gordon R., ed., H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, at 87, n.2, Superior Publishing, Seattle, WA 1966 ISBN 0-87564-220-9
- "Washington State Ferries History/Creation of WSF". Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2007-05-14.
- Alan J. Stein (January 20, 2003). "Washington State Ferries begins operations on June 1, 1951". HistoryLink. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
- "Black Ball Ferries 1951-1961". Gary Little. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
- "BC Ferries: Our History". BC Ferries. Retrieved 2007-05-14.
- "History of MV Coho and Black Ball Transport". Blackball Ferry Line. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Guide to the Vernon R. Stedman Papers. 1933-1972. 1.21 cubic feet (2 boxes).