Port Townsend in the Fog


On Saturday, January 19, Jon and I decided to get out of town and take a little day trip over to Port Townsend.  The weather was supposed to be sunny and dry, and since we had a rare day off together, we wanted to do something special.

We got up early (early for a Saturday anyway) and headed down to Coupeville to walk onto the ferry.  When we got on the ferry, it was still very foggy and overcast, but we had high hopes that the fog would burn off and clear up once we got there.  The ferry ride is about 35 minutes, and it is a very smooth trip.  We were on the Kennewick, which seems to be one of the newer ferries in the Washington State Ferry System.  Some of the ships are up to 65 years old!  I got some photos from the deck, but unfortunately with the fog and dark, overcast morning, combined with the zoom, they didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.

Jefferson County Courthouse - Port Townsend

Jefferson County Courthouse – Port Townsend

Beyond coming up with the plan to go to Port Townsend, Jon didn’t really have any specific ideas about what he wanted to do for the day.  So the planner in me took over.  I wanted to visit Fort Worden since I haven’t been there in several years.  Once we got off the ferry, we trekked the little more than two miles over the hill and out to the fort.

The Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden - In the Fog

The Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden – In the Fog

Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden

Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden

A Lonely Rowboat on the Dunes at Fort Worden

A Lonely Rowboat on the Dunes at Fort Worden

Fort Worden is a fort in Port Townsend that was established in 1902 (construction began in 1897).  It is built along Admiralty Inlet, and is one of three forts that were built to protect the entrance to Puget Sound, which leads to Seattle and Tacoma.  The other two forts are Fort Casey (in Coupeville, Washington) and Fort Flagler (Nordland, Washington).  Fort Worden is named for U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden, who commanded the U.S.S. Monitor during the Civil War.  Fortunately for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, we were never attacked, and none of the three forts ever fired a hostile shot.  The guns were removed and shipped to Europe during World War I.

Battery Kinzie at Fort Worden - Construction Began 1908

Battery Kinzie at Fort Worden – Construction Began 1908

Fort Worden was decommissioned by the Federal Government in 1953, was purchased by the State of Washington, and became a juvenile detention facility for a period of time before it was transferred to the State Parks Department in 1971.  It opened as a State Park in 1973.  Now, kids and adults who want to re-live their youth can run around in the concrete fort, spook themselves in the tunnels, and explore the batteries.

Another cool feature of Fort Worden is the Officer’s Homes and Parade Ground.  There are nine Officer’s Homes, ranging in size from a 4 unit apartment home, to duplexes with three to six bedrooms in each unit.  One of the homes is an Officer’s Home Museum, and is open seasonally.  Unfortunately, it isn’t open in the winter, so we didn’t get the opportunity to tour it.  It has been a long time, but when I was a child we used to rent out one of these homes each year and stay there with family friends.  We got to explore the fort during the day, walk to town to do some poking around in the souvenir shops, and then play games and hide and seek in the evenings.  Staying there each year is one of my favorite childhood memories.  Maybe one day I’ll stay there again!

The Row of Officer's Houses at Fort Worden - An Officer and a Gentleman Was Filmed Here!

The Row of Officer’s Houses at Fort Worden – An Officer and a Gentleman Was Filmed Here!

Once we were done poking around the fort, Jon and I walked back to town.  On the main street, Water Street, lives the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum, housed in the Old City Hall.  We had heard good things about the museum, so we decided to stop in and take a look around.  The volunteer docent was very friendly, and told me that I could take photos, even though the sign said no.  Ssshhh!  Don’t tell!

The museum is an eclectic mix of artifacts that the historical society has acquired over the years.  There is an exhibit detailing the history of settlement in the area, from the Native Americans, the French and Russians, the British, and then finally, American settlement in the 1850s to present.  It details the attempt by Port Townsend to become the State Capitol (that didn’t happen), and the history of Chinese and Japanese laborers in the area.

The museum has an antique horse drawn hearse and several other interesting things.  In the basement, you can tour the original jail of City Hall, built in 1892.  One thing is for certain – I wouldn’t want to be locked up in that solitary confinement cell!  Also in the basement there is a fascinating exhibit on the history of prostitution in Port Townsend, with some photos of madames and the women of sin who worked in the area.

The Solitary Confinement Cell in Port Townsend's Original 1892 Jail

The Solitary Confinement Cell in Port Townsend’s Original 1892 Jail

You can visit and see everything in less than an hour, and is a worthwhile visit for the $4 admission price.  They also give you a guide with a map to the historic homes and buildings in the area.  The guide lets you do your own walking tour!

After taking our spin around the historical society museum, we poked around in some of the shops and art galleries on the main drag.  Jon got to visit a record store, and I went to the coffee shop across the street to get sandwiches to take on our return ferry trip.  And last but not least, we stopped in a little wine shop, The Wine Seller, to see if we could find a local bottle of wine to take home.  By that point, I was really hungry, so I wasn’t thinking straight, and was a bit overwhelmed by the huge selection of wines.  If we had a little more time (and something in my stomach), I would have made good use of the great selection in this wine shop!  As it was, we picked out a bottle of Christina James Pinot Noir to take home with us and try (more on that in an upcoming post).

My Favorite Mural in Port Townsend - Not that I go for smoking advertising, but this is very cool!

My Favorite Mural in Port Townsend – Not that I go for smoking advertising, but this is very cool!

As we were waiting in line for the ferry, the sky had cleared to sun, and we had a wonderful return trip on the ferry.  When we got back to Coupeville, the sun was getting lower in the sky, but Jon agreed to take me up to the Fort Casey Admiralty Head Lighthouse so I could get some last pictures of the day.  I have memories of a great day, and I leave you with these.

Port Townsend Waterfront - Once the Sky Began to Clear

Port Townsend Waterfront – Once the Sky Began to Clear

Admiralty Head Lighthouse at Fort Worden

Admiralty Head Lighthouse at Fort Casey

Sunset at Fort Casey

Sunset at Fort Casey

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6 thoughts on “Port Townsend in the Fog

  1. We are so lucky to live so close to such fun and (historical – did not even realize) places. I really enjoy Fort Casey but did not know about Ft Worden or the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum.

  2. We used to go up and spend the day riding bikes around the Fort. So much fun! I have some recollection that they filmed some scenes from Officer and A Gentleman there?! Great memories….thanks! Can’t believe the sun came out :p

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