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Port Blakely

Port Blakely, which came to life in 1863, is a scattered community on the north shore of Blakely Harbor, on southeast Bainbridge Island. It was once an active sawmilling town which, for a time, boasted the largest sawmill in the world. It was named for Blakely Harbor by Cmdr. Charles Wilkes for Capt. Johnson Blakeley, a U.S. naval hero of the War of 1812. Blakeley was lost at sea with his ship, USS Wasp. The Indian name of the harbor and locality was Kol-lus-um. Ships loaded and sailed for worldwide markets from here, and a shipyard was built, in which the S. S. Julia, largest stern-wheeler in the Northwest of that day, was constructed. The Port Blakely mill employed 1,200 men and daily cut 400,000 feet of lumber. When the United States acquired Alaska, the old Russian gunboat Politokofsky was included in the purchase. The ship was bought by the Port Blakely Mill Company, its guns were dismounted, and for many years the boat was a familiar sight on Puget Sound. Shortly after the close of the World War, the mill was shut down and dismantled. Today, nothing remains.

Images

Ca. 1890 view of Port Blakely, showing a log boom in foreground.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Ca. 1900 image of lumber being loaded onto a tall ship at Port Blakely.

Source: Washington State Historical Society