Fort Townsend was on Port Townsend Bay two and a half miles south of Port Townsend in northeast Jefferson County. Established on October 26, 1856, it was abandoned in 1893. It was named for Port Townsend, which had been named for the Marquis of Townshend.
This fort was established in 1856 by the US Army under the order of Major Granville O. Haller. In the days of the Native American wars of the middle 1850s it was felt that the settlers of the northeast tip of the Olympic peninsula were subject to possible attack not only from local Native Americans but also from the Haidas from Queen Charlotte Island. Major Haller had difficulty in finding men, materials, caused by desertion to the gold fields in the Cariboo county.
In 1859, the border dispute broke out in the San Juan Islands between the Americans and the English, and when General Harney inspected the fort he ordered its evacuation. When reactivated in 1874 the spring was enlarged to provide more water, a wharf was built, and P.X. commissary stocked. School was held in one of the buildings for certain grades, the rest of the upper grades were transported to the Port Townsend school by buck boards. The personnel added much to the social life of Port Townsend.