This is a wonderful historical video of a 1954 sailing aboard the SS ALASKA on a cruise to Alaska and the Inside Passage. A retro 50s look at a style of cruising and travel now vanished. Views of the ship leaving the Port of Seattle, with streamers, confetti and visitors waving goodbye — something rarely seen today. See the ship sail up the inside passage… with passengers dancing, dining, playing shuffleboard and man nostalgic scenes of an Alaska steamship far different from the massive ships sailing the Inland Passage today. The Alaska Steamship Company operated passenger service from Seattle to all ports in Alaska from 1895 until 1954. During the summer weekly sailings visited the Inside Passage. The line challenged all kinds of winter conditions and operated year round offering regular sailings as far north as Nome. These are family films and footage taken during the 1920s through the 1950s.
The Alaska Steamship Company was formed on August 3, 1894. Charles Peabody, one of the six founding members, served as president of the company from its creation until 1912. While it originally set out to ship passengers and fishing products, the Alaska Steamship Company began shipping mining equipment, dog sleds, and cattle at the outbreak of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. In 1898, the Puget Sound Navigation Company was formed as a subsidiary, serving as means of putting the Alaska Steamship Company’s more obsolete vessels to use in the Puget Sound routes.
SS YUKON Passenger List – Summer 1941
The Alaska Steamship Company was purchased by the Alaska Syndicate and merged with the Northwestern Steamship Company in 1909. The Alaska Steamship Company retained its name through the merger, and the fleet was expanded to 18 ships. The company greatly benefited from the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which forced two Canadian shipping companies out of the Alaska market.
ALASKA STEAMSHIP COMPANY FLEET – 1930s
The companies rapidly growing prominence in the shipping industry continued in 1930 when it purchased the Pacific Steamship Company. The federal government took control of the company’s fleet of fifteen vessels during World War II. After World War II, the Alaska Steamship Company was slowly driven out of business due to the end of federal subsidies, rising fuel and labor costs, and new competition from the trucking industry and cargo airlines. In an effort to reduce costs, the Alaska Steamship Company started implementing tugs, barges, and container ships. These allowed for smaller crews, faster loading and unloading, and less damage to the cargo. Unable to compete with faster, cheaper air service, the company discontinued passenger service altogether in 1954, though by then it had established itself within the container ship industry. Despite these efforts, the Alaska Steamship Company shut down in January 1971.
Ketchikan, Alaska — Rotarians sailing aboard the S.S. Alaska seen at dock where they were given The Key to The City, circa 1932