History, Beauty and Fun! – Fort Worden State Park, Washington

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Admiralty Inlet

IMG_1540Sitting high on a bluff overlooking the deep blue intersection of the Straits of Juan De Fuca and Admiralty Inlet sits beautiful historic Fort Worden. Built in 1897, the fort became a part of the Washington State park system in 1955 and now encompasses 434-acres. Located in the town of Port Townsend, the park has about two miles of shoreline, historic buildings replicating life in the early 1900’s, as well as local schools and businesses. Centrum is a program located on the grounds that offers ongoing classes for writers, musicians, artists and dancers. The Port Townsend School of Woodworking is also located there along with a branch of Peninsula College. Conferences and retreats are held in the conference center. With dormitories and former officer’s homes available for rent, there is plenty of room for everyone. There are actually a total of 456 bedrooms available for use!

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One of the Many Batteries

Two campgrounds are also available, one up high on the bluff and one down near the beach and lighthouse.

We have stayed in the lower campground twice and loved it. There is a small berm to block the wind blowing in from the water, but a short walk, literally just a few feet, over it and you are on the beach. The camping spots are large with a lot of room between them. Of course there are restroom and shower facilities available as well. One of Josh’s favorite parts is the fact that there is a remnant of concrete military bunkers known as “batteries” right next to the campground and he always spend hours running around in it with a flashlight, meeting other kids and scaring each other.

Down by the lower campground is also where the Marine Science Center is located. It hosts exciting wildlife cruises as well as amazing hands-on activities for kids, such as day or overnight camps and classes.

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Coast Artillery Museum

A visit to the Coast Artillery Museum will help you learn about the history of the site.  Fort Worden was established as one of three harbor defense posts for Puget Sound. The other two are Fort Flagler and Fort Casey. You can see models of the batteries so when you actually get out on the grounds and find them, you’ll understand better what you are looking at.

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Fireplace in Commanding Officer’s House

One of my favorite buildings is the Commanding Officer’s Quarters which was built in 1904. It has been painstakingly restored and furnished in the grand style of the 1890s-1910s. The interpretive guide looked quite handsome in his period clothing and had a wealth of knowledge about the house and its history. I don’t think there was one question that I had that he couldn’t answer.

There are so many activities available in the park – boating, fishing, crabbing, hiking, biking, swimming and of course, running around the batteries. If you don’t have your own boat or bike you can rent bikes and kayaks. There is usually some sort of event, show, class, or performance going on somewhere on the grounds. In the evenings we always saw deer out grazing in the big parade grounds. Just sitting and watching the huge ships going through the straits is amazing.

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Dress Displayed in Commanding Officer’s House.

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Replica Barracks Room

Both times we have been there I couldn’t help but think about the families, particularly the women, who lived there a hundred years ago. Did they think it was just as beautiful as I do or was it nothing special to them? With all the batteries, beautiful buildings and facilities which seem like they would have met their every need, did they feel safe or did they feel isolated? Was it a choice assignment or just a stepping stone to something they thought was more desirable?

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Officer’s Row Houses for Rent

There is so much to see and do, so much to wonder about at Fort Worden State Park, that it is well worth your time to take the family and discover all that the park’s 434 acres has to offer. Learn the history, explore the batteries. Maybe stay in one of the old houses and see if you can experience life as those families did 100 years ago!

For reservations and more information, http://www.parks.wa.gov/fortworden/default.aspx

 

Getting there: (from the Fort Worden website) –

From Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal, and drive straight (NE) on State Route (SR) 305 for approximately 13 miles. Drive through Poulsbo, and take a right onto the ramp for SR 3 to the Hood Canal Bridge – approximately 7 miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, take a left and remain on SR 104 for about 6 ½ miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend, take a left on Kearney Street, right on Blaine Street, left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Canada/Northwest Washington to Fort Worden State Park

Travel south on Interstate 5 to Highway 20 (Burlington exit). Follow Highway 20 west through Oak Harbor and Coupeville to Keystone Ferry, approximately 42 miles. Take the Keystone Ferry to Port Townsend. Depart from the ferry terminal and turn left onto Water Street. At the first stop light, turn right onto Kearney Street. At the first stop sign take a right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, take a left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Edmonds-Kingston Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal and drive straight on State Route (SR) 104. Follow signs to stay on SR 104 through Port Gamble to the Hood Canal Bridge, approximately nine miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn right and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Tacoma to Fort Worden State Park

Follow Highway 16 across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and follow the signs to Bremerton, approximately 27 miles, where the highway changes names to SR 3. Follow SR 3 about 25 miles to the Hood Canal Bridge. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn left and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Olympia to Fort Worden State Park

Take US 101 northbound towards Quilcene. About 12 miles past Quilcene, bear right onto SR 20. Follow SR 20 approximately eight miles then turn left at the lighted intersection, which keeps you on SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

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Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, RV/Camping, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “History, Beauty and Fun! – Fort Worden State Park, Washington

  1. A must see when I get out that way! Great post.

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