MUKILTEO — A ferry set to sail on the Whidbey Island route in 2025 is more than wishful thinking.
The next state ferry baby is named Wishkah.
Wishkah will be the state’s first hybrid-electric ferry and comes with a sticker price of $147 million. It’s to be the green-and-white workhorse on the busy route that connects Mukilteo on the mainland and Whidbey. With dock chargers, the ferry could be recharged between trips.
The 144-car vessel is an Olympic-class cousin to the Suquamish, the latest addition to the ferry family. The Suquamish launched in 2018 and mainly serves the Mukilteo-Clinton route.
The name Wishkah was chosen unanimously by transportation commission officials this week for the vessel not even under construction.
Wishkah has ties to the state’s indigenous culture and, on a side note, to pop culture.
The name, which honors the river of the ancestral Chehalis people and flows through Aberdeen, was on the 1996 Nirvana album “From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah.”
“The literal meaning if you translate it to English is ‘stinking water,’” said Ian Sterling, Washington State Ferries spokesperson.
Construction is planned to begin in 2022. “It takes about three years to build a ferry,” Sterling said.
The ferry name game started in the summer with public input and had to pass muster from officials. After much scrutiny, six finalists were selected. Others were Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Stehekin, Muckleshoot and Enie Marie, great-granddaughter of Chief Sealth.
All 21 current ferries have names derived from Native American words or places: Puyallup, Tacoma, Wenatchee, Spokane, Walla Walla, Kaleetan, Yakima, Chimacum, Samish, Suquamish, Tokitae, Cathlamet, Chelan, Issaquah, Kitsap, Kittitas, Sealth, Tillikum, Chetzemoka, Kennewick and Salish.
Wishkah won in a 7-0 vote by commissioners.
“It is a multi-faceted name that represents a geographic area in the state that does not have a ferry named for it,” Commissioner Debbie Young said in a news release. The Quinault, named for a lake and river that’s home to the coastal Quinault Indian Nation, was retired in 2009.
Wishkah Street is a segment of Highway 101 in Aberdeen, home of the founder of grunge-rock band Nirvana, Kurt Cobain.
Wishkah was the most popular name in a fall ferry survey that drew more than 5,800 responses online.
Names such as D.B. Cooper, Pete Carroll and the Always Late did not make the cut. Nor did Boaty McBoatface.
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