Blakely Harbor


Blakely Harbor Park sign

This sign is up against the trees to the right
of the building in the picture below.

Blakely Harbor is on Bainbridge Island across Puget Sound from Seattle. On 19 May, 1792 Captain George Vancouver was the first European to give recognition to Blakely Harbor. He stopped here to repair his ship. It was not given a name until 1842 when the officers of Lt. Charles Wilkes's United States Exploring Expedition named it Port Blakely. It was named to honor a navel hero of the War of 1812, Johnston Blakely, master of the sloop-of-war Wasp. Captain William Renton with partner Dan Howard opened a sawmill in April 1864. The sawmill was built in the area to the right of the building in the picture below. The only thing left of the sawmill is the concrete building, the pilings at the waters edge on this side of the building and the pilings in the picture of the pond in the back of the bay. By 1881 it had a reputation of being the largest sawmill in the world. The main wooden building was 438 feet long and 101 feet wide and at full capacity it could cut one million board feet a day. 250 people worked in the mill and 500 worked out side in the mill yards. In 1880 the Hall brothers started building ships 1/4 mile to the east on the north shore of the bay. They built three ships at a time with lumber from the sawmill. The South shore was the original home of the Siwash. In 1891 the population of Blakely was about 1500 including Walville on the south shore. In 1903 the Hall brothers sold their Blakely yard and in 1914 the sawmill was dismantled. Within a short time it was all gone except the concrete building and the pilings that you can see at low tide.

A photographer name Wilhelm Hester photographed the ships and the men at Port Blakely. There is a book called Tall Ships on Puget Sound by Robert A. Weinstein that has some of Wilhelm Hester's pictures of Port Blakely and a lot more information about Port Blakely.

Blakely Harbor Park

Blakely Harbor Park.

Hester's photographs show as many as 9 tall ships tied stern to the pier. They used wooden shuts to load the lumber. The shuts were u shaped and went from the pier to the taffrail then along the deck to the hold. It could take as long as 10 days to load a ship.

Blakely Harbor

This is the opening in the levee that extends across the head of the harbor. You can kind of see it to the left side in the image above. Not sure what it once looked like, but there may have been a gate across it to block the flow of water. At high tide the water is close to the top of the levee. There are short pilings in the image below at the waters edge on the left.

Blakely Harbor Park inner harbor

This is the pond in the back of the bay. The pond fills when the tide comes in.

Blakely Harbor

This is the view at night from the south side of the harbor. It is really hard to take a night time picture from a moving boat, but that should give you an idea of what it looks like. The point on the left blocks the view from the north side of the harbor.

Blakely Rock Dancer

Just out side of Blakely Harbor you will find Blakely Rock. This is the dancer that you will now find there.