Pacific Northwest | January 11, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineJanuary 11, 2004seattletimes.com home
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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
TASTE
ON FITNESS
NORTHWEST LIVING
NOW & THEN
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

From Reign to Relic
 
 Photo
COURTESY OF FRANK SHAW
The steamer Catala rests near the end of a narrow remnant of the old Schwabacher Wharf at the foot of Union Street in 1962, in what is now the open water of Waterfront Park. The contemporary photo of the site without the steamer was taken from a park ramp on its Pike Street side. The Seattle Tower shows near the left border of both views.
Photo
PAUL DORPAT
As the "Queen" of the Union Steamship Fleet, the Catala was a tramp steamer dressed in a formal. For nearly 35 years its pointed bow was eagerly greeted at the logging camps, canneries and isolated villages between Vancouver and Prince Rupert, B.C. Here, it rests on the Seattle waterfront waving the Stars and Strips as a sign of a new service.

Headed for scrap in 1959, the Catala was instead gussied up to perform as a "boatel" on Seattle's waterfront during the Century 21 World's Fair of 1962. The 682-foot Dominion Monarch and the 537-foot Acapulco were similarly outfitted to serve as floating hotels. According to Gene Woodwick, the vessel's chronicler, the Catala was the only one to make a profit and stay for the duration of the fair. Many of the guests who enjoyed its plush quarters during the fair were the loggers, fishers and shore-huggers who had once ridden the ship in Canada.

Built in 1925 in Montrose, Scotland, the Catala's last stop was in 1963 at Ocean Shores, where it was again set up as a "boatel" with 52 staterooms, a restaurant and lounge — this time for fishers. On New Year's Eve, 1965, the Catala was driven ashore by 70-mile-an-hour winds. Picked by scavengers and salvagers, it remained a picturesque wreck until bulldozed over.

Gene Woodwick (she is also director of the Ocean Shores Interpretative Center) is pleased to note that on New Year's Eve 2001 another storm exposed the keel and remaining ribbing of the Catala, which then resumed its service as a maritime relic.

If you have a Catala story (or photograph) to share, Woodwick would love to hear from you. Her phone number is 360-289-2805; her address is POW 1531, Ocean Shores, WA 98569.

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.

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