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This picturesque fishing village spreads over a point jutting into Juan de Fuca Strait, a short distance east of a long sandy spit. Clumsy-looking power boats, their sterns piled high with traps, ply the coastal waters for crabs. These famed Dungeness crabs, exceptionally fine-flavored and firm in texture, are shipped in cold storage to Midwestern and Eastern cities. Many octopuses, which were once canned in commercial quantities, are also caught in these waters.

The inhabitants of Dungeness are a hardy folk, who have learned to respect the swirling eddies and strong tides of the Strait. In the days of wooden ships and sails many a ship piled up along these shores, and the settlers customarily kept beach fires burning brightly on stormy nights to warn navigators. They also formed a volunteer life-saving corps and pulled their stout boats through the heavy seas to rescue the crews of shipwrecked vessels. Today there is a lighthouse on Dungeness Spit.

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit This low, sandy spit on the Strait of Juan de Fuca partially encloses New Dungeness Bay and Dungeness Harbor. It extends five miles northeast from the mainland, and has a branch to the south which almost encloses Dungeness Harbor. Early Spanish explorers charted the spit as Punta de Santa Cruz. Pioneers called it Graveyard Spit because at least thirty British Columbia Native Americans were buried there following a massacre by Clallam Native Americans in 1875. The Clallam Native American name for the spit was Tsi-tsa-kwich.

Sequim Bay

The bay is almost closed by a long, narrow sand spit from the northwest tip of Miller Peninsula. The bay was named Ensenada de Bertodano by Juan Francisco de Eliza in 1791. The Wilkes Expedition gave it the name Budd’s Harbor, for Thomas A. Budd, acting master of Peacock. In 1847, Capt. Kellett used the name Washington Harbor on British charts. In 1858, Capt. George Davidson of U.S. Coast Survey adopted Kellett’s name. The USBGN ruled that Washington’s name could not be officially used for minor features that had nothing to do with General George Washington.

New Dungeness

The Spanish explorer Manuel Quimper arrived in what would become Dungeness Bay on July 4, 1790; a few days later he took possession and the bay was named “Puerto de Quimper” after the commander of the expedition. On Captain George Vancouver’s voyage in 1792, he thought the low point of land resembled Dungeness in the English Channel and hence named it New Dungeness. Elliott Cline settled at New Dungeness in 1852 and platted a townsite of the same name in 1865. He deeded two lots to the county and this property provided the foundation for the county seat. Scrip books were issued for the construction of the courthouse and jail and a small community developed at New Dungeness. It was the principal town in Clallam County until the Puget Sound Cooperative Colony was established in 1887 and Port Angeles began to grow. In 1890, the Clallam County Commissioners placed the question on the ballot of removing the county seat from New Dungeness to another place. Port Angeles was chosen and in the fall of that year, the county seat and wagon loads of documents were transferred to Port Angeles. With the loss of the county offices, New Dungeness gradually disappeared as population and business moved elsewhere. The site is significant as an early location of Clallam County government and representative of many communities that came and went as the patterns of settlement changed.

New Dungeness Light Station

The New Dungeness Light station was the first federal navigational aid constructed north of the Columbia River. Lighted in December, 1857 (just a few weeks before the light on Tatoosh Island), the station consists of the original lighthouse with tcMer and a nearby keepers’ residence built in 1904. The Light station is situated at the tip of Dungeness Spit in the strait of Juan de Fuca, and has served for nearly 140 years as a maritime beacon in an area plagued by strong storms, dense fog, and heavy commercial traffic. Although the tcMer was lowered in the early 20th century, the station retains excellent integrity and remains an enduring symbol of the historic lighthouses of Washington.

Dungeness School

Constructed at the turn of the century and expanded in the 1920s, the Dungeness School is historically significant for its association with education in Clallam County. The two-story preserved schoolhouse was the largest and most expensive built in the rural areas of the county during the period and was the only rural school to offer classes from first grade through high school. After consolidation in the 1920s, the upper class students were sent elsewhere, but grammar school was conducted until 1955. Today, the well preserved school is the most important surviving structure associated with the community life of the Dungeness area and one of the finest examples of school design in Clallam County.