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Kitsap County Public Works
614 Division St, Port Orchard, WA  MS-26
(360)337-5777 * Fax: (360)337-4867

History of the Mosquito Fleet

From the very beginning of settlement in the Puget Sound region over 150 years ago, the most efficient and effective way to move from one area to another was by boat. The early settlers depended on water-based transport, small steamers that buzzed around the Puget Sound so quickly and regularly that they came to known as the “Mosquito Fleet.” As population and commerce increased, it demanded a need for larger, well-organized water born transportation systems that could accommodate both passengers and freight. This was the genesis of the “Mosquito Fleet” which
The City of Kingston is one of the numerous ships that buzzed around the Puget Sound, taking people and freight from dock to dock.
consisted of individually owned and operated vessels of varying size that would keep a somewhat regular service between the various waterfront communities.

Many of the “ports of call” were crude docks that could accommodate a few neighbors if the tide was high, to very formidable docks that could handle freight and an ever-growing number of passengers. Many of these structures are long gone, but at some sites piling still exist. At other locations replacement docks have been built at their original locations, and some are still functioning today as they did decades ago. These sites are identifiable along the shoreline from Olalla in South Kitsap all the way north to Bainbridge Island . Each has a “history” associated with it, as well as a rich community heritage. This fleet was operational until the middle of the 1900’s when roads and bridges were developed to link communities together. Eventually, larger and faster ferries were brought into service thus eliminating the need for these small vessels and they vanished from our legacy.

There were so many boats and the competition for passengers was so intense, they buzzed and hummed around Kitsap docks and even bumped into each other from time to time. Their predictable daily hum of activity at dawn and dusk was an appropriate name for the Mosquito Fleet.  The small foot ferries operating between the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Port Orchard and Annapolis are the last remaining remnants.
In the early 1900's the Athalon was run by the Liberty Bay Transportation Company in the Seattle-Pousbo route.  In those days, it was in stiff competition with the Hyak.  Every run was a race and the prize, the pick of all the freight and passengers.

Staff contact:  Bill Zupancic

Kitsap County Public Works
Kitsap 1
(360) 337-5777 or (800) 825-4940

Updated:  June 01, 2010
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