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Fort Ward

Washington State Parks purchased Fort Ward, decommissioned in 1958, in 1960 and today maintains more than 130 acres for day use, including a substantial stretch of beach along Rich Passage. The park entrance is accessible from Fort Ward Hill Road. Several surviving buildings that were historically part of Fort Ward, including the administration building, gymnasium, commissary storehouse and officer’s houses, remain. Many of these structures are under private ownership, while several others are presently being rehabilitated as residential units. To stay true to the fort’s original configuration, the historic parade ground remains a grassy field, but rather than barracks and other military buildings ringing the ground’s edges, today single-family homes encircle the site.

This military establishment near the entrance to Port Orchard was named June 12, 1903, for Colonel George H. Ward who was wounded in the battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War and subsequently died of his wounds. A report dated June 12, 1903 noted that the Fort consisted of 375 acres on Bainbridge Island and 375 acres on the mainland on Rich’s Passage.

The fort was built as part of the coastal defense system to protect lower Puget Sound from hostile attack, especially the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton. Fort Ward had its own post office between July 15, 1903 and June 30, 1930.


Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Rich Passage

A channel named in 1841 for botanist William Rich of the Wilkes Expedition. It is a half-mile-wide channel with strong tidal currents, shown on some maps as Rich Pass.

Orchard Rocks

Located above orchard rocks, within the Orchard Rocks Conservation Area.