“Hoquiam” is a finalist in selection of name for new ferry

Hoquiam has made the first cut as one of the names under consideration for one of the two new Washington state ferries.

The late seafood chain founder Ivar Haglund and the orca Tokitae also are among the seven possibilities, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

The other candidates – Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Samish and Sammamish – are more traditional tribal names and words similar to most of the 23 ferries already in service on Puget Sound.

Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers first came up with the idea of promoting Hoquiam, which is said to be a Lower Chehalis Tribal word meaning “hungry for wood.”

“Although a state ferry will never ply our waterways, it seemed like a great name for a new ferry,” Myers said. “I ran it past the mayor and city administrator then sought input from John Larson at Polson Museum and wordsmith extraordinaire John Hughes (former Daily World publisher). Then the idea went to the council for the proclamation and was delivered to the state with an info packet.”

The proclamation, passed unanimously by the Hoquiam City Council Sept. 24, notes that between the 1890s and the 1920s, Hoquiam became a “major center for logging, sawmilling, ship building and Pacific maritime shipping, which helped Grays Harbor become one of the largest lumber producing regions in the world.”

The ferry system has a total budget of $279.4 million to build the two new 144-car ferries that will be part of the Olympic Class fleet. The first will begin service in the spring of 2014 and the second in early 2015, but the routes have yet to be determined.

“I will not get too excited until we know it is picked,” Myers cautioned. “I am sure Mayor Durney would crack a bottle of bubbly over the bow, but I would settle for the first voyage.”

Transportation Commission members will discuss the names at their Oct. 16 meeting in Olympia and likely make a decision at their Nov. 13 meeting in Tacoma.

The public was invited to suggest names for the two new ferries under construction. The names needed widespread public support along with petitions or endorsements from groups or officials.

The commission guidelines said the names should carry statewide significance, represent the state image and culture, and be consistent with the existing fleet.

“Names with commercial overtones or names honoring or commemorating individuals should be avoided, but will be considered upon careful review,” the commission said on its website.

Tokitae is the name of an orca captured in 1970 at Whidbey Island’s Penn Cove and better known as Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium. The name was suggested by the Center for Whale Research, which says it is a coastal Salish greeting meaning “nice day, pretty colors.”

With the exception of Haglund, the other names on the list also have tribal ties.