Gig Harbor Communities



This is the place to live

Gig Harbor, the very name conjures upromantic thoughts of the sea, a picturesque fishing village, the safety and security of a harbor, a little seclusion, even offering a slower pace. Be it a pioneer descendant, a resident of the past 50 years, or a newcomer, a resident would describe Gig Harbor as a lifestyle.

Gig Harbor
Gig Harbor was named during the 1841 Wilkes expedition after a crewmember in a small boat, called the captains gig, sighted a harbor and led other boats exploring in the area to take refuge in the harbor during a storm. When the first European-American settlers came to the harbor in 1867 there was a Native American village, with longhouse, located at the head of the harbor near a small creek. Read More
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Horsehead Bay/Arletta/Warren
The first European-American settlement began in Arletta in the late 1870s and the post office was established in 1893. The first postmistress coined the name Arletta by combining her daughters name Arla with her friends name Lucetta. Most early settlers farmed. Other activities in the area included logging, fishing, and trapping. When a permanent dock was constructed, a business district developed around the waterfront and included a store, fish fertilizer factory and warehouse. Read More
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Artondale extends north and west of the head of Wollochet Bay. Settlement started here in 1877, serving as a banking and shipping point. The community had two brickyards. Approximately 150 people lived in the community in the 1880s with early settlers establishing orchards and farms after clearing the forests. Read More
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Fox Island
Native Americans called the island Bu-ta-u for a daughter of a Nisqually Indian chief. The present name of the island was established during the 1841 Wilkes Expedition after an assistant surgeon on the crew named Fox. Native Americans used the island for seasonal gatherings and fishing and Tanglewood Island was used as a Native American burial ground. Read More
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The area was named Purdy in the 1880s when Joseph Purdy, a grocery store owner from Tacoma, offered to provide lumber for a school if the area were named after him. Purdy and three others constructed a mill in the area in 1885. The mill complex included a post office, grocery story, and workers housing. Mr. Ouellette, the Frenchman, opened the first Oyster Company in the area around 1900, processing and canning the oysters from the land on the spit he owned. Read More
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Rosedale/Raft Island/Kopachuck
Rosedale was named for the wild roses growing in the area. In the early 1880s, the first school district and post office were established in the area. Logging and farming were the most prevalent activities engaged by early settlers. By the early 1910s, a small business district developed in the community, which included two stores, two docks, a church, a public library, and schools. Read More
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Vaughn/Home/Lakebay/Longbranch/GlenCove/Key Center
The remoteness and inherent beauty are what drew pioneers to the Key Peninsula and are what draw new residents even now. This area, called the Key Peninsula, was designated in Wilkes exploration as Indian Peninsula South End. It is nearly twenty fives miles in length by the highway that runs from Purdy to Devils Head in the south. Read More
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Wollochet/Pt Fosdick/Midway
It is likely that Wollochet may be connected to a Native American word, which means squirting clams of which plenty were found on the beach in the area. The Native Americans fished and sold the fish to the European-American settlers and traded woven baskets. Early European-American settlers engaged in logging and farming. Orchards were common and there were numerous chicken farms in the area. Dogfish were fished and used as fertilizer. Read More
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Gig Harbor lifestylewhat makes it?

  • A community of people who call it home by choicenot by chance.
  • A community with history from diverse areas of Scandinavia and Croatia.
  • A community of people who work hard to integrate the needs of the community with nature.
  • A semi-rural community ideally located close to urbanized Tacoma, Seattle, Bremerton and Olympia.
  • A community with picture-postcard views everywhereof the majestic Olympics to the west and the omnipresent snowy Mt Rainier to the southeast.
  • Yesthe people, the maritime history, the location, the schools, churches, the recreational resourcesmake the Gig Harbor lifestyle!

Discovery of Gig Harbor

Native Americans settled the Gig Harbor Peninsula and Fox Island for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. The groups that inhabited the area were mainly Puyallup, Nisqually, and Steilacoom. Native Americans had permanent settlements in villages along Donkey and Crescent Creeks in Gig Harbor and in Wollochet Bay and Burley Lagoon for fishing and food gathering. Some Native Americans continued to live in the area selling or trading fish and woven baskets to European settlers well into the 1900s.

In 1792, British Captain George Vancouver led the first European exploration of the Puget Sound and, in 1841; American Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes explored the entire Puget Sound.

The first European and American settlers came to the Gig Harbor Bay area in 1867 for fishing. With the arrival of the transcontinental railroad to Tacoma in 1887, more people began to settle in the area. In the early days homesteaders settled along the shoreline since much of the inland areas did not have adequate roads and most transportation was through the waterways on boats. Later, inland locations became valuable for farms, ranches, and orchards. The harbor area was developed with docks and wharves to serve the Mosquito Fleet, a group of steamers that transported freight, mail and people across the Sound to Tacoma, Logging activity preceded farming that included fruit orchards in the area. Shipbuilding for commercial fishing, car ferries and other craft became an important industry in Gig Harbor.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, passengers, horses, wagons, mail, supplies, logs, timber, fish. crops and bricks were transported in boats and steamers across Puget Sound from the Peninsula to Tacoma. Steamers stopped at major pick-up locations and bays along the shoreline in the Narrows, Wollochet Bay, Hale Passage, Carr Inlet and Henderson Bay. By the 1930s the steamer transport declined largely due to the convenience of larger ferries and appearance of automobiles on the Peninsula starting in the 1910s.

The first Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940, just four months after completion. The second Narrows Bridge was not completed until after World War II1950. During the intervening years, ferries again transported people and goods between the Peninsula and Tacoma. With the completion of the second Narrows Bridge, the Peninsula began to evolve into a suburban residential community. This growth accelerated from the 1950s through the mid-1990s, due to the growth in the Tacoma, mainland Pierce County and Central Puget Sound economy and the convenient access to Interstate 5 that the bridge and State Route 16 provided.

Today, the area is a mix of small town and suburban neighborhoods interspersed with rural forest and pasturelands.


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