Port Gamble Washington, located on the Olympic Peninsula, is a restored logging town stuck in the past. With its 38 remaining houses, public buildings and cemetery Port Gamble is a town where the ghost appears to out number the residents. Just talk to anyone who lives there and they’ll have a ghost story to tell. The ghost of Port Gamble will make their presence known everywhere.
In July 1853, Captain William C. Talbot captained the small, 50-ton schooner Julius Pringle from East Machias, Maine to Puget Sound by way of Cape Horn. His voyage took 171 days.
After anchoring in Discovery Bay, Talbot took his small sailboat and spotted the sand spit at the mouth of Port Gamble and judged it ideal. The spit had room enough for a mill and other buildings; plentiful supplies of Douglas fir, the spit also sheltered sailing ships from the prevailing winds.
Talbot landed and along with 10 employees they built a bunkhouse, a cookhouse, and a store to trade with the natives and settlers. Talbot had also brought from Maine cut lumber for the buildings, which were roofed with local shakes. The foundation timbers for the mill came from trees at the head of the bay.
On his way back to San Francisco, Talbot encountered the L.P. Foster with his partner Josiah Keller aboard. The L.P. Foster was a clipper schooner, and it had carried the mill machinery and merchandise for the store around Cape Horn from Maine. Talbot told Keller of the site selected for their mill. Keller landed with his wife and a daughter and he took charge of the operation.
In September 1853, within a week of landing the engine, boilers, and a Muley saw, Keller had steam up and he and the crew cut its first log. On September 24, 1853, even before the mill was ready, Keller inserted an item in the weekly Columbian newspaper with a list of the goods in the store and an offer to cut lumber.
The settlers called the mill Teekalet until they changed the name to Port Gamble in 1868. The mill will operate continuously for 142 years, from 1853 to 1995.
On November 19, 1856 a Haida raiding force of seven sea-going canoes and approximately 300 warriors entered Puget Sound and approached the sawmill at Port Gamble. On November 20, the Navy frigate Massachusetts steamed into Gamble Bay. There followed two days of intermittent fighting using the guns of the Massachusetts, and small arms fire. On November 21, Coxswain Gustave Englebrecht fired his weapon and struck a Haida man. He raised his head from behind his defensive position and was struck fatally in the head by a Haida bullet making him the first U.S. Navy man to die in battle in the Pacific. Over 20 Haidas are also killed in the action, including a chief. Englebrecht was buried on the bluff overlooking the mill in what would become the Buena Vista Cemetery in the town of Port Gamble. The 20 plus Haida warriors killed were buried in a mass grave somewhere in the area. Port Gamble was included on the list of National Historic Landmarks in 1966. In 2000, the community was declared a Rural Historic Town, paving the way for its development as a tourist destination by Pope Resources.