The Ghost Town of Port Crescent

Port Crescent’s prosperity and future, like so many others on the Olympic Peninsula, was depended on the placement of the tidal exodus of the railroad terminus rumored to built on the peninsula.

Port Crescent - Now and Then

I’ve been coming up to camp and explore in the area west of Port Angeles for over thirty years and I still am finding new things every time. An area that’s popular with surfers and where I’ve launched my kayak is Crescent Bay. It’s a long stretch of moon shape beach. A county park bookends the east side with private property on the west side. In the middle is an old cemetery which is all that’s left of the once-thriving community of Port Crescent.

Port Crescent was first envisioned as a deep-water harbor for ocean-going vessels, particularly for timber cruisers for the loading of logs to be shipped to foreign ports. There was news of railroads building northwest from Tacoma into the Olympic Peninsula, which fanned rumors of a coming boom for the area.

A promotion company was formed in 1892 and laid out an ambitious townsite consisting of 20,000 lots on 166 blocks in a neat rectangular pattern. The town had two saloons, the Markham House, a modern hotel at the time, the Port Crescent Hotel, stores and all the amenities of a frontier town. The town had a few more ups and downs during the early 1900s until the late 1920s.

The hoped-for railhead never appeared and when the highway was placed south of the community all the residents eventually moved toward the commerce. Once abandoned the Army razed the town during WWII as part of its coastal defense system against invasion.

The old cemetery is all that is left, but it’s worth a visit. Some of the graves are dated back to the mid-1800s before Washington was granted statehood.

Support

Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:

  • COASST Beached Bird Surveys
  • Wild and Scenic River Project

Thank you.

Lake Crescent - North Shore

Another wonderful area to explore is Lake Crescent which is nestled in the Olympic National Park. This area is full of waterfalls, old forests, and enough trails to get truly immersed in all of the above.

One of our favorite places to visit is the old Spruce Railroad trail which runs along the north shore of the lake. As I write this there is a notice on the Park’s website about the closure of the trail from March 2020 through November 2020 for maintenance.

Port Crescent’s prosperity and future, like so many others on the Olympic Peninsula, was depended on the placement of the tidal exodus of the railroad terminus rumored to built on the peninsula.

Affiliates

We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
as-seal-gr
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
coasst-logo
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

Latest Instagram

[instagram-feed user="xexplores" showlikes=false num=16 cols=4 widthunit=% width=100 layout=carousel carouselrows=1 carouselautoplay=true carouseltime=5000 showcaption=true captionlength=75 captioncolor=#000]

We’ve hiked the trail from its east end many times, but have never had the time to explore the trail from end to end. That changed this time due to brining along our Rad Power Bikes. I love the range and mobility that these bikes give us and this was trail played to their strengths. We were able to explore the trail’s west end which as a real treat. I’d highly recommend a visit if you’ve never had the chance.

Please share this:

More to explore

Jefferson Lake
Journal

Round 2 with Rocky

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on Rocky Brook Falls while out with friends. We spent a fair amount of time photographing the Rocky Brook Falls but I wasn’t feeling satisfied.

Read More »
Jayhawk 60
Journal

Surviving Winter in Grayland

The weekend had been nothing if not chaotic; both in wind and rain. Still the last thing I expected was to see a surfer getting rescued by a USCG swimmer.

Read More »
hand-feeding-horses
Journal

Horse of a Different Color

For all we have in common Theresa and I couldn’t have more different backgrounds. She was riding a horse long before she had a drivers license where I was soloing sailboats offshore. Our first multi-day paddle together she complained that her, “utter wasn’t working”; our first horseback ride I complained I needed a ‘mainsheet and rudder’ to control this beast.

Read More »
Dosewallips Fall
Journal

Incredible Waterfall Hidden Right Under My Nose

I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve driven past this unassuming trail-head. Nothing outstanding or unusual about it; identical to the hundreds, if not thousands, I’ve gone by every weekend here in the Pacific Northwest. But this one had a secret, a spectacular secret; Rocky Brook Falls.

Read More »

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Anne Kilgannon

    I was intrigued by your statement that no roads or railroads were ever built to access this location. And yet people did travel there. How would they have reached the town-to-be in the early 1890s from Olympia from where interested investors did travel.

    Thank you!

  2. Steve Weileman

    Hi Anne, Thanks for your question. It’s been some time since I originally wrote this article, and I went back to see the context of your question, but I’m not seeing the line you’re mentioning. However, for much of Washington’s early history, we had what was called the ‘Mosquito Fleet,’ small water taxis that ran crisscrossed Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and, in some cases, even traveled the outer coast. Hope that helps.

  3. Emma F

    This is a great article! I’m researching for a history paper on Salt Creek recreation area and want to know more about the colonization of the area and the militarization of it during WW2. Would you be willing to share some sources you used to write this article?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.