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.

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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.

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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.

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