I’ve been blessed that as a kayaking guide I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some breathtaking shores. But the fact is I don’t have to travel far to find inspiring vistas. Puget Sound regardless of the amount of urban development has plenty of places that make you take a moment to stop and ponder. It’s little wonder that I’ve extended my two week vacation here to 26 odd years.
Puget Sound is usually defined as a sound along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. It is a complex estuarine system of interconnected marine waterways and basins, with one major and two minor connections to the open Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Juan de Fuca—Admiralty Inlet being the major connection and Deception Pass and Swinomish Channel being the minor. Flow through Deception Pass is approximately equal to 2% of the total tidal exchange between Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Puget Sound extends approximately 100 miles from Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington in the south. Its average depth is 450 feet and its maximum depth, off Point Jefferson between Indianola and Kingston, is 930 feet.
Water is the driving force of all nature. — Leonardo da Vinci
George Vancouver explored Puget Sound in 1792. Vancouver claimed it for Great Britain on 4 June 1792, naming it for one of his officers, Lieutenant Peter Puget.
After 1818 Britain and the United States, which both claimed the Oregon Country, agreed to “joint occupancy”, deferring resolution of the Oregon boundary dispute until the 1846 Oregon Treaty. Puget Sound was part of the disputed region until 1846, after which it became US territory.
American maritime fur traders visited Puget Sound in the early 19th century.
The first European settlement in the Puget Sound area was Fort Nisqually, a fur trade post of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) built in 1833. Fort Nisqually was part of the HBC’s Columbia District, headquartered at Fort Vancouver. The Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the HBC, established farms and ranches near Fort Nisqually. British ships such as the Beaver, exported foodstuffs and provisions from Fort Nisqually.
The first American settlement on Puget Sound was Tumwater. It was founded in 1845 by Americans who had come via the Oregon Trail. The decision to settle north of the Columbia River was made in part because one of the settlers, George Washington Bush, was considered black and the Provisional Government of Oregon banned the residency of mulattoes but did not actively enforce the restriction north of the river.