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The Family History of Phil and Cheri Sletten

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Orondo Ferry Memories from Perry Chandler

On 28 Jun 2018, the Wenatchee World posted a photo of the Orondo Ferry from 1917. In reply to that post, Perry Chandler posted some of his memories and other photos.

     The Orondo Ferry was our family's business from about 1905 to 1960 when it closed permanently at Orondo due to completion of the Rocky Reach Dam. Originally captained by my Grandad Earl Chandler beginning around 1905, he operated it until 1920 when he sold it for a few years and then later repurchased it in the early 1930s I believe. My dad Ron Chandler took it over in 1948 and operated it until 1960 when it was sold and moved up to Entiat where it continued to operate it for a few more years.

     My job as a kid was to help Dad on the boat. Anything from tying chains at the dock, loading cars on the boat and collecting .75 cent fares from the drivers. Around 12 or so I started operating the boat for Dad on the weekend so he could sleep in the bunk in the cabin after ferrying cars late Into the night and early morning. I couldn't legally operate it by myself until I was 18 and had a U.S. Coast Guard license, but by 16 or so I was running it back and forth by myself on a regular basis.

     Many interesting experiences, including while a new boat was under construction in 1948, a heavily loaded semi filled with apples drove on the old vessel too quickly and literally sank it, ending its tenure. Fortunately the last and final version of the Orondo Ferry was completed soon thereafter and ultimately launched in 1948. Several years later another loaded truck filled with apples rolled off the back end of the boat because the driver fell asleep with his foot on the clutch. We were than required by the USCG to block the wheels of the vehicles for safety. DUH!!! Another interesting highlight was regularly retrieving another ferry boat 4 miles further up the river at Entiat which routinely broke off its cable and floated down the river. I think that cable ferry spent more time tied up at our spare dock then actually operating on its own route up above. Lol. Many other adventures including raging currents and high winds, etc.are too numerous to mention, but kept life interesting to say the least.

     All in all I was extremely fortunate to have a childhood like that, with fantastic memories to cherish forever.

Date28 Jun 2018
PlaceOrondo, Douglas County, Washington, United States of America
File nameOrondo Ferry Memories from Perry Chandler
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