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Peek inside a 1954 State Ferry for sale

The MV Evergreen State, decommissioned by Washington State Ferries last year, is up for auction

Text on the hull of a ferry reads “EVERGREEN STATE” Sarah Anne Lloyd

Ever dream of owning your very own ferry boat? The MV Evergreen State, affectionately dubbed the E-State, has been up for auction since October, and Washington State Ferries (WSF) gave Curbed Seattle a full tour.

The E-State, the first ferry built specifically for WSF, was commissioned in 1954—for context, the same year the first Dick’s Drive-In opened. Given its long service history, it’s no surprise the boat has stories, from the rescue of an overturned kayaker in 2003 to a birth in October 1979. (The ferry would show up at that now former-baby’s wedding 30 years later.)

Other ferries have been repurposed into wedding venues and scallop farms. A couple of former WSF vessels are serving passengers to Zanzibar. The MV Hiyu was recently purchased, and will eventually become a cabaret. But if the ferries don’t sell in time, they’re scrapped, as in the long, sad tale of the art deco MV Kalakala. WSF tries to avoid that whenever possible.

“We can probably get more money for it as scrap,” Broch Bender, who works in communications at WSF, told Curbed Seattle. “But if we can keep it on the water, we will.”

A metal gangway leads onto the car deck of a passenger ferry
The view from the end of a car dock on a passenger ferry into the Puget Sound
The view from the sun room of a passenger ferry onto the outer deck

Passenger seating was concentrated to one floor above the car deck, including the familiar bench seats by the window and galley seating. Closer to the decks on the end, single chairs, typically bolted to the floor on other boats, move freely on the E-State—they would occasionally be cleared out for events.

Two rows of green bench seats with tables along a row of windows
Three rows of brown tables with mustard-brown swivel seats bolted to them
Rows of light green chairs with metal frames and wood grain arms.
Two long, wooden benches. Interior windows behind the benches lead into the ferry, with exterior windows at the end of the rows. A green ladder sits between the interior windows and the benches.

What was previously the smoking section and is now more of a solarium, a partially-outdoor space still common on ferries. From here, a ladder leads up to an upper deck, formerly a crew-only area.

A protrusion at the top of the ferry with the Washington State Ferries logo and a gold stripe.

Above, each side of an expansive roof deck features a large cabin on each side. The gold stripes on the center stacks signal 50 years in service, which the E-State earned in 2004.

Either side has a virtually identical helm at the end of a large cabin. One side contains crew quarters, the other captain’s quarters—the latter only more glamorous from private rooms, space to work, and a small sink.

Stairs leading up to the helm door. A window with a curtain is in the foreground.
A dirty porthole
Bunk beds
A twin bed with drawers underneath next to a small sink

At either helm, wood details date the vessel, with a combination of vintage-looking and slightly more modern equipment.

Windows at the helm of a ferry
Buttons, controls, and a light at the helm of a ferry
Controls and gauges at the helm of a ferry
Levers, gauges, and buttons at the helm of a ferry

Below the passenger room and car decks, the engine room keeps the boat chugging, thanks in part to Nadene and Rose, a pair of surplus drive motors from a WWII destroyer.

Two turquoise-colored ship engines side by side. Their names are Rose (right) and Nadene (left).
An engine room wth ducts and a top view of the drive motors.
An engine room
A piece of engine room equipment is labeled ‘Prop Motor No. 4’

Touring an empty ferry with behind-the-scenes peeks yielded fun, period, and homey details, like the industrial vanity lights in what used to be the public restrooms, a house-like, full kitchen with bench seating in the engine break room, and an ovoid shower design in the crew quarters.

Bathroom vanity lights
Brown bench seat with table in a break room
Lockers in an engine room of a ship

In its 60-year history with WSF, the E-State has served multiple routes: first between Seattle and Bainbridge Island, later Edmonds-Kingston, and in its golden years, the San Juan Islands. The ship was periodically called out of retirement to fill in for boats that needed maintenance after it was taken off the island route in 2014, but was officially retired to Eagle Harbor Maintenance Yard in January 2016.

The vessel was first listed on a state auction site starting at $450,000; later, it was listed on a federal auction site with a $300,000 reserve. The ferry currently sits in the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Yard in Bainbridge Island awaiting bids, and WSF tells Curbed Seattle that there’s a chance it will sell this week.