Admiralty Inlet: Gateway to the Puget Sound.
The Main Basin of the Puget Sound is split into the Admiralty Inlet and the Central Basin. The remaining bodies of the Puget Sound are the Hood Canal, on the Kitsap Peninsula's western edge, the Whidbey Basin to the east of Whidbey Island, and the South Sound located south of the Tacoma Narrows.
Admiralty Inlet's northern boundary is along a line from Point Wilson near Port Townsend and Point Partridge just north of the Ebey's Landing National Reserve on Whidbey Island. The southern boundary is along a line from Point No Point on the Kitsap Peninsula easterly to Possession Point on Whidbey Islands southern end. The Admiralty Inlet is the narrowest point between Point Wilson and Admiralty Head on Whidbey Island. This 3.7 mile wide entry is a gateway for all the sea traffic entering the Puget Sound, except for boats small enough to use Deception Pass.
In 1790, Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to find and map Admiralty Inlet when an expedition led by Manuel Quimper sailed through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Mistaking the inlet for a bay, Quimper's pilot Juan Carrasco, named it for the Spanish naval officer Jacinto Caamano. In June 1792, Captain George Vancouver renamed it Admiralty Inlet and Caamano's name was given to Camano Island - Vancouver named Whidbey Island after his First Mate Joseph Whidbey as well.
In the late 1800s Port Townsend on the Quimper Peninsula was an active seaport serving as the hub for maritime activity in the Puget Sound. By the 1890s, commerce in the area led to the federal decision that Admiralty Inlet was strategic to the defense of the Puget Sound.
Present day Admiralty Inlet
Today a great deal of inbound and outbound freight traffic passes through Admiralty Inlet enroute between major ports throughout the world. Most of Alaska's supplies and much of Amazon's Asian suppliers utilize the shipping ports at Seattle and Tacoma. The United States Navy has ships stationed at three Naval facilities in the Puget Sound as well. The Keystone - Port Townsend run of the Washington State Ferries crosses the inlet and serves as a link for State Route 20.
The Point Wilson Lighthouse is still an active aid to navigation located in the Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend in Jefferson County, Washington. First built in 1879, the Point Wilson Light was automated in 1976. The light is operated by the Coast Guard and the grounds are a part of Fort Worden State Park.
The Triangle forts guarding the Puget Sound are located at the entrance to Admiralty Inlet and today make up Washington's "Triangle of Parks". These preserved Endicott Era Forts were made almost entirely out of concrete with walls that concealed "disappearing guns". The guns were raised above the walls, aimed, fired, and the force of the recoil would lower the gun below the walls making them invisible from the sea and easy to reload. The forts utilized various sized breech-loading rifled cannons, submersed minefields, mortars and smaller - faster firing guns in their defense strategy.
Admiralty Inlets Triangle of Fire:
Although not a part of the "Triangle of Fire," there were three other forts constructed in the early 1900s that completed the Harbor Defenses of the Puget Sound. Fort Ward and Middle Point were located at the entrance to the Rich Passage and provided protection for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton. The back entrance to Admiralty Inlet was protected by Fort Whitman on Goat Island near La Conner.
Construction of Fort Worden began in 1897. The fort was named in honor of Admiral John Worden, captain of the Civil War ironclad vessel USS Monitor. Initially, sixteen artillery pieces were installed in the batteries allowing Fort Worden to be activated in 1902. A communication system connected the three forts by cable in 1903. With the headquarters of the Harbor Defense Command, the 6th Artillery Band and four artillery companies in place Fort Worden was considered complete near the end of 1905.
During World War I, Fort Worden was expanded and used to train and prepare soldiers before being sent to Europe. 36 of the fort's 41 guns were dismantled and sent to European battlefields as well.
Fort Worden remained active during World War II, as the headquarters of the Harbor Defense Command, which then was jointly operated by the Army and the Navy. In July 1957, the State of Washington purchased Fort Worden from the GSA and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission acquired most of Fort Worden in September 1971.
The fort was also used for training during World War I and 12 of the fort's 26 guns were removed and converted into field or railway artillery in Europe. Usage of the fort continued as a training site by the Army after the war. Many of Fort Flagler's original buildings had to be torn down and rebuilt due to dryrot in the 1930s. During World War II the Army began using the fort for amphibious assault training. After 54 years, Fort Flagler was deactivated in 1953. The 784 acre fort was purchased by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to be used as a state park.And On The SunnySide Of Whidbey Island...
The Army established a garrison at Fort Casey in 1890. When the "Triangle of Fire" was adopted the Army bought 123 additional acres so the construction of the gun emplacements could begin in August 1897. The fortification was named Fort Casey in July 1899 in honor of Brigadier General Thomas Lincoln Casey, a former commander of the Army Corps of Engineers.
Fort Casey's garrison began arriving in June of 1902 before barracks construction was done. Living in tents while they waited, troops from Fort Flagler, Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay and a company from Hawaii began day-to-day operations of the fort.
The first gun emplacements to begin test firing were Batteries Worth, Moore, Kingsbury, Seymour, Schenck, and Turman in 1903. As construction continued Fort Casey was soon pronounced 'ready for action' and soon Batteries Trevor, Van Horn and Valleau were finished. When completed, there were 34 big guns at Fort Casey: six 10" disappearing guns, six 6" disappearing guns, two 5" pedestal guns, four 3" pedestal guns and sixteen 12" mortars.
When World War I began, thirteen of the forts 34 artillery pieces were dismantled and shipped to European battlefields and Fort Casey was turned into a training facility to prepare soldiers for combat in Europe. The rest of the guns were dismantled after the war ended on November 11, 1918. Fort Casey continued to be used for military training until the beginning of World War II when the gun emplacements were re-equipped with anti-aircraft guns and the Fort Casey was reactivated as an induction center and a training facility.
|Battery Turman||2||5"||Balanced Pillar|
|Battery Van Horne||2||3"||Pedestal|
After the war Fort Casey stood vacant and fell into disrepair. In June 1953 Fort Casey was declared surplus and in 1955 the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission started acquiring Fort Casey for use as a state park.
Admiralty Head Lighthouse
In 1861 construction of a two-story wooden house with a light tower was completed on Admiralty Head. (Lighthouse Friends - Website) The light from it's 4th order Fresnel lens was visible for 16 miles. Construction of Fort Casey's gun emplacements in 1890 forced the lighthouse to be moved. In 1903 the Army built a brick and stucco lighthouse that was able to withstand the concussion of the guns better. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1922, and the lantern and lens were moved to the Dungeness Lighthouse in 1927. In 2012, high school students in the area built and installed a historically correct lantern house on the lighthouse.
The Harbor Defense Command also built Fort Ebey on Whidbey Island at Pigeon Point, north of Fort Casey near Coupeville. It was named for Colonel Isaac Ebey, a Whidbey Island pioneer killed by Indians in 1857. Fort Ebey was abandoned in 1946 and was acquired by Washington state in 1968. It became Fort Ebey State Park, a 645-acre campground with three miles of saltwater shoreline, in 1981.