Monday, August 29, 2011

Port Townsend, Washington

Is a little town, less than 10,000 people and always in transition.  The little island it is on was at one time the home to maybe four Indian tribes, maybe eking out an existence for hundreds of years, surviving on hunting and fishing, gathering oysters from the bay and eating the abundance of berries found everywhere.  It was "discovered" in the late 1700's by the white man and serious settlement since the 1850's when it was incorporated to become a city, the "city of dreams", competing with Seattle and Tacoma for the largest port on the West Coast.
   The local Indians were friendly to these white settles and there were no wars.  They disappeared from the devastation of disease, from smallpox and measles.  Now they make up 1.27 percent of the population; there are more Latinos there than Native Americans.
   Dreams of becoming a big port city died before the Depression and the Railroad never connected for essential services to the rest of the world.  A paper mill still stands, the industry that saved Port Townsend and has been in operation since the 1920's.
   It is a beautiful town, still a shining example of an earlier age, a beautiful Victorian Seaport town.  The 1950's were hard on Port Townsend and its population dropped by a third.  The beautiful architecture found in the commercial town center and the old Victorian houses with their majestic view of the bay were deteriorating, suffering the same fate of the Indian cedar plank lodges.
   In the sixties Port Townsend was discovered again and it became a mecca for artisans and crafters and a magnet for tourists.  "New Money" saved this little town and there was a Renaissance of restoration.
   Today it is a mecca for retirees.  20% of the population is over 65 years old.  This brings new wealth to this little community and it will change again, altering with the times.


Tiffiny said...

This is interesting. I love to hear the history of a place. I always find it said when a culture has been lost, but at the same time life is change isn't it.

Tiffiny said...

"Sad" is what I meant not "said". Don't you just hate typos. ;)

curlyvictor said...

Well stated except PT isn't on an island but a peninsula.

stonepost said...

thank you Curlyvictor! I was dizzy and probably bar hopping at the time!