North Kitsap Real Estate Information

The Saga of North Kitsap

North Kitsap has a unique geographical location. A peninsula hemmed in by Hood Canal and Port Gamble Bay on one side and Puget Sound and Liberty Bay on the other, it is all nearly spitting’ distance of salt water. This has had great influence on social and economic life. The people are water-oriented.

In the beginning, vast forests of cedar and Douglas fire were close enough to the water for easy rafting to nearby mills. This attracted loggers and mill workers. An abundance of fish attracted fishermen. Both were frequently seasonal and part-time occupations. The pioneer homesteaded or bought a piece of land to clear and make a home. The North Kitsap area became a land of stump ranchers. The wife and children tended the farm while the husband worked out. The urge to become inded gentry was dominant.

Kitsap County at one time led the United States in numbers of poultry farms. Berry growing was important. They all kept plows. Many farm women hauled their produce down to the docks to go by boat to their stands in the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Agriculture has since suffered the agonies of industrial revolution and the only farming carried on in North Kitsap now is subsidized by a full-time job on the outside.

Because of the isolation and lack of communication between communities in North Kitsap, each developed in its own way and there are some distinct differences in the character of each. There was little opportunity for blending and homogenizing. The Poulsbo community is not the oldest buy being centrally located, it soon developed into the hub of the area as the commercial, professional and educational center. Settled during the period of the great Norwegian migration to the new world it drew like a magnet and up until the 1920’s Norwegian was the mother tongue of most of its 500 people. Today the community is capitalizing on its ethnic background and has established an identity as "Little Norway." Every year in May, the weekend nearest the Norwegian Independence Day the community holds its own version of the Mardi Gras and calls it Viking Fest. The fame of the community has spread to Norway and is the occasion this year (1975) for a visit from Oslo Boys’ Choir and Oslo Norway’s King Olav V.

Port Gamble, the mill town, predates Poulsbo by thirty years. Port Gamble is but two years newer than Seattle. Port Gamble a bit of New England. It was founded by Pope and Talbot from East Machias, Maine, in 1853 as a mill town to supply booming San Francisco with lumber. Sailing vessels carried lumber to ports all over the world. Connection with Poulsbo, as even in 1890, by a ten mile foot path through the wilderness. It was easier to shop in San Francisco. Port Gamble was always a company town. The ill is the oldest in operation west of the Mississippi. The architectural style is New England. The citizens of the community felt culturally bond to the New England traditions. Certainly they must have felt superior to the Norwegians, Swedes and Finns of the hills surrounding Poulsbo. Port Gamble was high church Episcopalian.

Suquamish, located on the edge of the Port Madison Indian Reservation, became a sort of tribal center for the Indians of that name. Located on the Puget Sound in full view of Seattle and for a long time with direct ferry connection, it became a bedroom district for Seattle. Many Seattle residents maintained summer homes or cabins in Suquamish. These people did not transfer any allegiance to the Suquamish community; consequently the community became a heterogeneous mixture of Suquamish Indians, permanent white settlers and Seattle summer residents. Cultural clashes have sometimes flared but St. Peter’s Catholic Church and the Suquamish school have been instruments of, to use a modern term, détente.

The history of Indianola would be a repeat of Suquamish, minus the Indians. It, too, was mainly summer homes for Seattle residents. It was at one time a ferry stop. It is today somewhat isolated but the Indianolins like it that way. That is why they live there.

Kingston is the ferry terminal town. Most of the Olympic peninsula auto traffic channels through Kingston. This and a fine new marina bolsters the business economy. Kingston is a community of modest homes and subsidized arms, subsidized by earnings from logging, mills, the ferries, fishing and commuting to jobs on the "other side." The community has at one time a fair number of Japanese that were mostly truck farmers and berry growers but after their relocation in WWII, not many returned. The town has had a struggle to make progress but a few enterprising businessmen have literally lifted the town by its own bootstraps.

Pioneers seeking a retreat from the hustle and bustle of civilization retired on the north end of the peninsula to Eglon and Hansville. They each has a one-room school and a church and a community improvement club. There they led the idyllic life but as time passed more and more summer residents moved in to share it with them. Then came the resorts and a flood of sport fishermen. The Eglonians and the Hansvillians say "things are not what they used to be."

In an overview of Scandia, Person, Lemolo, Virginia, Breidablik, Vinland, Lincoln, Harding, Franklin, Highland, Big Valley, Miller Bay districts, the history is identical. Only the name of the people change.. They were settled mainly by Norwegians, Swedes and Finns who hewed a home out of the wilderness by brute force and driving will power. They emigrated directly from Scandinavia, many came after a short stay in the Middle West. They hungered for land which was beyond their means in Europe and were willing to endure hardships and privation to achieve it. They were the pioneers whose history this book will encompass.

This brings this story finally to Keyport and Bangor, the torpedo station and the Trident submarine base. Theirs is an economy base on war. The bulk of the wage earners in North Kitsap draw their paychecks there. Their purpose is to keep the enemy far from our shores. Yet people wonder if in this atomic age may they not also become the first target of attack.