A new state ferry could be named as “Wishkah” on Tuesday

After months of outreach and public input, the state’s next new ferry will be named at the Washington State Transportation Commission’s meeting next week. 

The two-day meeting starts at 9 a.m. both Tuesday, Dec. 14, and Wednesday, Dec. 15. 

On Tuesday, the Commission is expected to take action on two items. This includes the naming Washington state’s next new ferry.

With the process for building the state’s next new ferry underway – a hybrid-electric Olympic Class 144-car ferry – the commission initiated its process for naming this ferry in July 2021. After months of gathering name proposals and seeking public input on the eligible finalists, the commission will take action to select the new ferry’s name.

Wishkah is among the finalists.

The Ferry Name Finalists


Sponsor: Robin Grace McPherson, Citizen, “Ferry Wishkah” Campaign

The Wishkah River runs from the Olympic foothills southward into Grays Harbor at the town of Aberdeen. From the earliest days of the Lower Chehalis people to the heyday of boomtown Aberdeen, the Wishkah has been a vital link between forest and sea that anchors the community.  The Wishkah River was originally crossed by ferry, and the steamer Wishkah Chief served the river and the harbor.


Sponsor: Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians

The Stillaguamish River pours into Port Susan located off of Camano Island in Snohomish County. The Stillaguamish Tribe has a long history of being a nautical, sea-faring culture. Traditional Stillaguamish canoes were used as barges and ferries, even in pre-colonial times. In post-colonial times, Stillaguamish people used these same large canoes to ferry settlers up and down the Stillaguamish River and its surrounding bays, including Captain Vancouver’s crew in the late 1700’s.


Sponsor: Snoqualmie Indian Tribe

The Snoqualmie Tribe is located in King County, having a long history in the Puget Sound region and the Snoqualmie Valley. The name “Snoqualmie” can be translated to “the Transformer’s People”. Their long houses were located along the Snoqualmie River with its tributaries serving as the highways used to travel from village to village. Prior to 1827, the use areas for the Snoqualmie people included numerous winter villages along the entire drainage of the Snoqualmie River.

Enie Marie

Sponsor: Zack Hudgins, Citizen

Chief Seattle’s granddaughter, Mary Ann Talisa Seattle was known as “Enie Marie”. “Enie Marie” Talisa Seattle lived in both the Salish world of her grandfather, and the immigrant Euro-American world of her husband William DeShaw. The newest addition to the Washington State ferry fleet is going to be a hybrid/electric ferry. It will burn both old fossil fuels and will run on clean electricity. It is a link between the past and the next step forward, which this name represents.


Sponsor: David Egelhoff, Citizen

Stehekin is the name of a community, a river, and a valley at the north end of Lake Chelan, accessible primarily by ferry. The name comes from the Salish language family and means “the way through” or “passage”. The name serves to emphasize the importance of water routes to the region. The easiest way in and out of Stehekin is via ferry, just as the ferry system across the Puget Sound aids movement from the many islands, to the peninsulas, to the communities along the shores.


Sponsor: Muckleshoot Indian Tribe

The Muckleshoot Tribe has a long history of inhabiting the Puget Sound. The Tribe is composed of descendants of the Native people who inhabited the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup watersheds of central Puget Sound, and is now located southeast of the City of Seattle on a plateau between the White and Green Rivers it the shadow of Mt. Rainier.  The Tribe’s name is derived from the native name for the prairie on which the Muckleshoot Reservation was established. Today, Elliott Bay is one of the Muckleshoot’s usual and accustomed fishing areas.

Also on the agenda is the naming of the Tacoma Rail Station. WSDOT is requesting the commission officially name the rail station in Tacoma the “Tacoma Dome Station.” 

Other highlights of Tuesday’s presentations include:

The future of transit service: A briefing will be provided by  company that has created an artificially intelligent route-optimization software, enabling urban transit services to be more responsive to real-time demands. 

Road Usage Charging (RUC) in Washington and Oregon: Initial findings from the commission’s 2021 RUC research will be reviewed in advance of reporting to the Washington State Legislature. Oregon Department of Transportation staff will provide an update on its RUC program operations and review what future changes might be coming.

Equity in transportation: Staff will present findings of a University of Washington study on paratransit service during the COVID-19 Pandemic and lessons learned for future application. Disability Rights Washington will share its “Mobility Bill of Rights” and Washington State Department of Transportation staff will provide a briefing on its American Disabilities Act annual report.

On Wednesday the meeting will continue and will include a performance update. This review of WSF’s recently released workforce plan, setting forth a path to address crewing shortages in the near-, mid-, and long-term; and an overview of the most recent forecast for WSF’s future financial performance, considering ongoing service challenges.

This meeting will be conducted virtually using Zoom.

People interested in attending can register on the commission’s website. 

The meeting will be broadcast live on TVW.

Learn more about the Ferry Naming Process


For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov