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Port Townsend
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Port Townsend

wash_port_townsend_street.jpg Port Townsend (except for the paved roads and horseless carriages), is a town frozen in time. Located at the entrance of the breezy Puget Sound on the wildly natural Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington, the 1854 ex-seaport capital is just far enough away from the busy freeways to stay cloaked in old-fashioned atmosphere.

Chronologically, the Peninsula was first inhabited by Native American tribes. These nations -- the Quileute, the Hoh, the S'Klallam and others -- successfully utilized the land and sea for over ten thousand years. Europeans arrived two hundred years ago, lured by the giant trees and three- sided waterways. These magnificent commodities eventually helped build the big cities of Seattle and San Francisco and built some of the wooden freighters that served the communities along the watery highways.

Port Townsend was a reasonably quiet seaport city on the peninsula until the late 1800's when visions of a railroad drew wealthy speculators and their wealthy tastes. Suddenly the easy- living village sprouted showy homes, chapels, schoolhouses and brick business centers. In sharp contrast to the bawdy brothels and boisterous saloons on the waterfront and the deep dark bay that fluttered and swayed peacefully with tall-masted square riggers from all over the world..

The bubble burst when the railroad never materialized. It happened so quickly that some of the buildings never got finished. That this took place wasn't unusual, for many such booms and busts occurred at the turn of the century. What's unusual is that so much of the physical evidence of what it was like is still standing. (The national registry of old buildings recognizes 70 structures in Port Townsend). Not intentionally, perhaps, but rather it was due to a general lack of funds and no interest to modernize that nobody bothered to demolish the old buildings. Now preservation is an important part of modern progress and it makes good sense to save historical structures.


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