Washington State Ferries seals time capsule at Colman Dock on December 28, 2001.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 12/30/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3662

On December 28, 2001, Washington State Ferries concludes the celebration of its first 50 years with the sealing and placement of a time capsule inside the Colman Clock case at Colman Dock on the Seattle waterfront. The three-foot-high stainless steel time capsule contains about 30 pounds of ferry memorabilia, including documents, items and photographs. It is scheduled to be opened on June 1, 2051 -- the 100th anniversary of Washington State Ferries.

History Encapsulated

Photographers were present at the northwest corner of the staging area at Colman Dock as WSF officials filled the time capsule with items. At approximately 10:30 a.m., a welder began sealing the capsule shut � a process that took almost an hour. Once it was sealed airtight, the capsule was placed on a dolly and wheeled into the waiting area.

By 12:00 noon, a small crowd had gathered for the ceremony. Terry McCarthy, acting director of Washington State Ferries, welcomed the attendees and introduced four speakers. Knute Berger, one of the founders of the International Time Capsule Society, spoke of the importance of time capsules. Following that, Walt Crowley, executive director of HistoryLink.org (this Website), talked about the early days of WSF, and its crossover from a privately run organization to a publicly owned one.

Alan Stein, staff historian for HistoryLink.org, regaled the audience with tidbits of information uncovered during his writing of Safe Passage: The Birth of Washington State Ferries, a commemorative book released on the occasion of the ferry system�s 50th anniversary. Dr. Lorraine McConaghy, historian for the Museum of History and Industry, then told highlights from oral histories she had gathered from ferry workers and ferry riders over the past year.

The capsule was then lifted and placed into the glass case and secured by chain and lock. Directions engraved on the capsule and painted onto the glass case instruct people to open the capsule on the 100th anniversary of Washington State Ferries -- June 1, 2051.

Time in a Bottle

Some of the items encapsulated are:


  • Copy of August 1965 Sunset Magazine


  • Copy of San Juan Island Bridge Study, 1957


  • Copy of Cross-Sound Transportation Study, January, 1966


  • Junior Cadillac Record Album and news article


  • Notebook from WSF Human Resources dept.


  • Notebook from WSF Terminal Engineering dept.


  • Notebook from Vessel Engineering dept.


  • Notebook from Public Affairs dept.


  • Ferry Tale contest winning stories from employees and passengers


  • Winning student essays


  • Photos and programs from the 2001 Maritime festival


  • Printouts from the Website HistoryLink.org


  • The book Safe Passage: The Birth of Washington State Ferries


  • Materials about 50th anniversary celebration on Colman Dock: program handouts; party invitation; detailed outline for internal use; event press release; Photos from event and floating classroom.


  • Copy of Pacific Maritime magazine supplement


  • Ferry Tale contest handouts


  • Student Essay Contest flyers


  • Dinner-and-a-Movie film guides and handouts


  • Historical Fares, 1951-2001 -- one page


  • Photo collages of employees and commuters with explanation


  • WSF Career Day 2001 photo in photo envelope


  • Governor's Greetings


  • City of Seattle proclamation


  • Letter from Bainbridge Island Mayor Dwight Sutton


  • American flag and certificate from Congressman Norm Dicks


  • Point of Sale Keyboard


  • Videotapes of news coverage of 50th anniversary celebration and Maritime Festival


  • Press Packets for 50th anniversary celebrations


  • Complete newspapers from anniversary day, June 1, 2001 -- The News Tribune (Tacoma), Bremerton Sun, Everett Herald, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and The Seattle Times


  • The book Kalakala Comes Home


  • Copy of Final Report of the Legislature's Joint Task Force on Ferries, January 15, 2001


Eyewitness account by Alan Stein. Additional information provided by Washington State Ferries.

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