The earliest thorough exploration of the waters adjacent to this route was made in 1841 by the expedition under the command of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. The heavy stands of timber attracted lumbermen, and several mill towns were soon flourishing along the water front—Seabeck, Sidney, Port Gamble, and Poulsbo; in the 1850s and 1860s, these settlements were far more important trading centers than Seattle and Tacoma on the eastern side of Puget Sound.
Logging, beginning along the waterways, rapidly advanced inland, and within a quarter of a century most of the virgin timber had been removed. Farmers came in increasing numbers and settled near towns and along the water front; soon they were moving into the cutover areas.
Fishing also increased in importance. Shrimp, clams, oysters, and crabs were found in abundance, and many a sheltered cove was converted into an outfitting point for seining and halibut boats.
Early on, communication with the east shore of Puget Sound was largely by water; a few rough roads and trails led from the water’s edge to farms and camps in the interior. Today, a network of roads connects all parts of the peninsula and joins it with Sound points.