Seabeck Real Estate Information

How did Seabeck receive her name? Innumerable accounts of the naming of Seabeck exist, some based on fact, some fancy, some fiction. The least plausible reason is that it was named after a place in Switzerland which looked identical to Seabeck. However, no Seabeck, Switzerland exists. A commonly held belief is that it was named after Marshall Blinn’s hometown, Seabeck, Maine, but according to that State of Maine, no known place has ever existed in their State. Research compiled by Dr. Robert W. Hansen of Seabeck states that ‘the Wilkes’ exploring expedition of 1838-1841 named it Scabock. Through a probably error in recording, it was changed to Seabeck.. The first post office was established on July 1, 1858.

"Let’s Go West" was the clamor on the east coast after the discovery of gold in California. Some men wanted nothing but the yellow metal and would settle for nothing less than the gold fields. Others, with money to invest, began figuring a way for a more permanent business venture.

Marshall Blinn was a thrifty man as well as a hard worker and saved nearly $20,000 by 1856. He knew nothing about mining and having been raised in Maine, where lumbering was a major industry, decided to come West for a different type of gold. He purchased a good, stout sailing ship and the newest and most complete sawmill machinery that could be found in Maine, and with this stored safely in the hold of his ship he knew that he must convince experienced sawmill men to accompany him on his venture. He set sail down the east coast of North and South America and up the West Coast. The going was rough, but the ship was sturdy and so were the men aboard. He had but one goal in mind: the mysterious virgin forest of the west and his own sawmill.

It was a strange sight for the down easterners as they entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca with the giant forests lining its shores and the mighty snow-capped mountains in the background. They turned down Hood’s Canal looking for a protected harbor in which they could anchor and when they saw Scabock harbor, which the Indians called L-Ka-Bak-Hu, they knew they had found their future home. The Indians came in their canoes to watch the strange white men saw, pound, and drive stakes. Little did they know that this would be the end of their hunting grounds and that huge ships from around the world would crowd the bay where they had fished for so many years. No more would they bring their departed to the sacred burial grounds, now Miami Beach area, or that the jumping salmon would be hidden under the log booms. After completion of the construction of the mill, others began arriving to work in the area. Men with oxen began to cut timber and would haul it to the water where it was towed to the mill. Soon a few farms sprang up and the mill company built houses for all of the families. A town was born, a town that surpassed even Seattle in size and many knew that this would be the metropolis of Puget Sound. The mill was completed in July, 1857, and logs were waiting in the bay to be cut. This was the fourth lumber mill in Kitsap County. In 1858, the Territorial Legislature passed an act to locate a territorial road from Seabeck to the head of the Canal, Clifton (now Belfair). This was finished in 1861. In 1862, a law was passed instructing the County Commissioners to build a road from Port Orchard Bay to Seabeck or Clifton.

In 1865, there was a demand for more ships to move the lumber for the expanding West. The Washington Mill Company built the most modern shipyard in the west. Seabeck was booming. Her lumber, of all dimensions, was shipped to all parts of the world.

Seabeck ran wide open. The doors of the saloons never closed and the drunks sprawled in the gutters of the mud road. One of the local big shots had a house across the waters of Seabeck lagoon. The mill employees made it a practice when drunk, to try to walk across the little connecting bridge and so many fell into the water that the bridge was removed. Bootleggers and rumrunners ran rampant. Strangely enough, Marshall Blinn, one of the mill owners, was a strict prohibitionist. When a hotel opened in Seabeck and served liquor to its patrons, Blinn promptly bought the hotel. Along with the four saloons, the thriving little town sported two general stores and two hotels. In 1876, there were over 400 people living in Seabeck.

But, by 1884, shipbuilding started slowing as suitable lumber for the projects was rapidly disappearing. It was a hot, sultry day on Aug. 12, 1886. The mill whistle blew as usual and saws were buzzing by 7 a.m. The lumber piles on the dock were tinder dry. Forest fires had ranged up and down the Canal that summer and smoke hung in the air as the men sat on the dock eating their lunches. While Retriever was discharging freight, she set the old hay barn on fire about 2:25 p.m. With strong winds and in less than two hours, both mills were burned down. The lumber was so dry that it burned like a pile of kindling. There were a few barrels stationed on top of buildings, but these were like a drop to the holocaust. Nature assisted in the doom of the mills as a breeze came up sending flames up the dock to the mill and on to the shipyard. The town and store were saved and no lives were lost.

On September 16, 1886, it was rumored that Seabeck would not be rebuilt. A week later most of the men in Seabeck had left for Hadlock. Some families stayed behind in Seabeck, especially those who owned their own homes while working at the mill. Many tool up land grants and homestead.

Almost overnight, Seabeck had become a ghost town. Salmon again jumped in the bay and Indians paddled by looking at the ruins. No whistles blew in the morning. The town died; campers and boaters came from Seattle. It was an exciting place for the adventures to visit. Many looked for the lost treasure of Ah Fong; others peeked inside the buildings and envisioned Seabeck’s heyday.

Lawrence and George Coleman purchased much of the original Seabeck townsite in 1914 to establish the areas as an interdenominational conference and camping area for Northwest churches and religious organizations. The 700-acre conference grounds is sprinkled with original buildings from Seabeck’s colorful past. In the summer of 1957, another fire raced towards the conference grounds and her buildings. Rebuilding was immediate. Modern buildings have since been built which blend beautifully with the countryside. Today conference delegates come from around the world to sip the sweet beauty of natural surroundings and exchange ideas.