Marion Case Cunningham, eldest daughter of Des Moines pioneers Rollin A. Case, Jr. and Marion Wilcox Case, wife of former Des Moines city councilman Jack Cunningham, and lifelong Des Moines resident, served on the first Board of Directors for the Des Moines-Zenith Historical Society and was a volunteer dispatcher for the Des Moines Fire Department. Marion made this square depicting the “Mosquito Fleet.”
Mosquito Fleet - The “Daring”
Named the “Mosquito
Fleet” by residents, this collection of little steamers provided
transportation for passengers and goods between Seattle and Tacoma for
over twenty years. The “Dauntless,” sold to another company
in 1889, was the first, followed by the “Defiance” and the
“Dove.” The “Daring,” a wooden vessel 115 feet
long, 19.5 feet wide, and the company’s flagship, was built in 1909.
The “Daily” and the “Dart” (built in 1911) followed.
There was fierce competition between the “Mosquito Fleet”
and other steamship companies on Puget Sound: in 1916 the highway between
Seattle and Des Moines was bricked, providing another route for movement
of passengers and goods, and at about the same time mail service was picked
up by the Neal Brothers. All these things contributed to an insurmountable
financial struggle for the Mosquito Fleet, and in 1919 the steamboat company
ended service, selling their boats to other companies.
Puget Sound's historic "Mosquito Fleet" consisted of thousands of steamships that steamed from port to port around the sound from the 1850s to the 1930s. They were so numerous that people said they resembled a "swarm of mosquitoes." The heyday of the Mosquito Fleet ended in the 1930s when competition with rail and road transportation put the fleet out of business.
© 2004 Des Moines Historical Society