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Blake Island State Park
Washington State Park
BlakeIslandWashington.jpg
The island seen from the west
Country United States
State Washington
County Kitsap
Elevation 190 ft (58 m)
Coordinates 47°32′19″N 122°29′34″W / 47.53861°N 122.49278°W / 47.53861; -122.49278
Area 475 acres (192 ha)
State ownership 1959
 - State park 1974
Management Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
Location in the state of Washington
Location in the state of Washington

Blake Island is a Puget Sound island in Kitsap County, Washington, United States, that is preserved as Blake Island State Park. The island lies north of Vashon Island, south of Bainbridge Island, and east of Manchester. On the northeast end of the island is Tillicum Village, a showcase for Northwest Coast Indian arts, culture, and food. The park is managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

History

Blake Island was used as a camping ground by the Suquamish tribe. In about 1786, according to legend it was the birthplace of Chief Sealth, for whom the city of Seattle was named. The island was first noted by British explorer George Vancouver in 1792, as part of his exploration of Puget Sound, though it was not named.

In 1841, Lt. Charles Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition named it Blake Island for George Smith Blake, the officer in charge of the United States Coast Survey between 1837 and 1848, although it was known locally as Smuggler's Island for some time. In the mid 19th century, the island was logged for its timber. During the Prohibition, it was frequently used as a refuge for bootleggers smuggling alcohol from Canada.

William Pitt Trimble, a Seattle millionaire, purchased Blake island, and renamed it Trimble Island. By 1917 he and his family lived there in a magnificent estate.

The Trimble family invited Camp Fire Girls from Seattle, and throughout Washington state to hold their first summer resident camp on Trimble Island in 1920. The girls named their camp Camp Sealth in honor of the birthplace of Chief Sealth. They paid for a delivery of logs, but soon found them floating away at high tide. They scrambled to haul them back, and soon found themselves dealing with a fire on the island. Because the Trimble family had other plans for the island, Camp Fire Girls of Seattle searched for a new, and permanent location for Camp Sealth and by the next summer had moved it to Vashon Island, where it remains today.

The Trimble family's occupation of the island came to an end in 1929 when William Trimble's wife Cassandra died in an accident in Seattle, after which the family abandoned the island and left the house to decay. Trimble sold Blake Island to an investment company in 1936 and retired in Seattle.

During World War II, a unit of the Coastal Artillery of the US Army was garrisoned in the Trimble mansion. The mansion burned during this time, leaving only the foundations visible today.

In 1959, the state of Washington made the entire island a state park. In 1993, U.S. President Bill Clinton invited member economies' leaders to Blake Island for the first APEC Leaders' Meeting.

Activities and amenities

The 475-acre (192 ha) island park has five miles of shoreline providing unobstructed views of the Olympic Mountains and the Seattle skyline. The park is only reachable by tour boat or private boat. There is a small marina and limited mooring buoys. The park offers hiking and biking trails, fishing, shellfish harvesting, and sports fields. The island is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer that sometimes swim from the mainland to the island from Manchester.

  • Kitsap County Historical Society, Kitsap County: A History, 2nd edition, 1981.
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