Gig Harbor, Puget Sound

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Gig Harbor is the name of both the bay and community on Puget Sound in Washington State. The community is a popular tourist destination with a scenic and historic waterfront, and located near Olympic National Park.

In 1840, while charting Puget Sound, the notorious Captain Charles Wilkes brought a small boat (called a gig) into the harbor during a storm. Later, with the publication of Wilkes’s 1841 map of the Oregon Territory, he had named the sheltered bay Gig Harbor. The harbor entrance is now marked by the Gig Harbor Lighthouse that was built in 1988 with a tower that stands 15 feet (4.6 m) tall and displays a red flashing light.

Immigrants from Sweden, Norway, and Croatia arrived in the late 1800’s, lured to the area by commercial fishing, boat building and logging that dominated the economy until the construction of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. Until then, the primary method of transportation between Gig Harbor and the economic centers of Seattle and Tacoma was by steamship. However, the first bridge collapsed just months after it was completed, and resource demands of World War II prevented another bridge from being built until 1950. Today the community is a thriving suburb of Tacoma and the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula. Read more here and here. Explore more of Gig Harbor and Puget Sound here: