Tucked into a quiet corner of the Kitsap Peninsula, Port Gamble is easy to miss. It’s just off of highway 104 and takes all of 30 seconds to zip by. It’s easy to miss when you have places like the Hoh Rainforest and Rialto Beach ahead of you. But after exploring the Olympic Peninsula, we decided to stop by the quaint lumber town of Port Gamble instead of heading straight home.
Port Gamble was founded as a company town in 1853 by Josiah Keller, William Talbot, and Andrew Pope, who formed the Puget Mill Company. Keller, Talbot, and Pope were from Maine and often recruited workers from East Machias, Maine. Many became homesick for Maine so as houses were constructed for the employees, the architecture was built to resemble New England.
The mill was operational until 1995. After 142 years, it was the longest operating sawmill in the country. It is still owned by Pope Resources, a byproduct of the former lumber company, but many buildings can be rented.
The Port Gamble General Store, which opened back in 1916, is one of the more popular places to stop in. Today, the building houses the general store, cafe, and a small ‘Of Sea and Shore’ Museum.
It was in 1640 that the “Earl of Camperdown” in Dundee Scotland noticed a branch growing on the floor of his elm forest. He grafted it to a Scotch Elm tree and it took hold producing the first Camperdown Elm. The Scotch Elm is the only root mass the Camperdown Elm will grow on. The tree is a mutant and cannot self produce. Every Camperdown Elm tree in the world is part of the original and they must be grafted to Scotch Elm tree to get started. When the graft starts to grow, the Scotch Elm branches are cut off leaving only Camperdown Elm. This magnificent tree depends on humankind to keep it alive as a species.
The backside of the General Store houses the Port Gamble Historic Museum.
The original land grant deed signed for Abraham Lincoln by his secretary in 1861, granting Pope & Talbot 15,260 acres of land is on display at the Port Gamble Historic Museum.
Next to the General Store / Historic Museum sits the Walker-Ames House, which was built in the late 1880s and housed various mill superintendents and their families. The Walker-Ames House is also purported to be one of Washington State’s most haunted buildings. It is normally closed due to disrepair in the interior but it is opened once a year during the Annual Port Gamble Ghost Conference.
Next time you’re passing by, take some time off to venture into Port Gamble and you may be surprised by what you find!
|Port Gamble Historic Museum Overview|
Coordinates / Address
32400 N Rainier Ave, Port Gamble, WA 98364
Fees / Permit
Adults: $4; Students/Seniors/Military: $3; Children six & under: FREE
No, not in museum.