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All About Bainbridge Island, WA

- by Jodie Vinson

City dwellers traveling to the coast should not overlook the getaway lying between the peninsula and Seattle. Bainbridge Island is easily accessible from the east by Washington State Ferry, and is connected to the Kitsap Peninsula by the Agate Pass Bridge. While serving as a perfect sojourn to break up a trip to the Olympic Peninsula, the island is worthy to be a destination in itself. Though Bainbridge is home to 22,000 residents that form its thriving community, much of its natural wildlife has been preserved for locals and visitors alike to enjoy. The 28 square mile island can be easily experienced on foot or bike through exploring the historic town of Winslow. Its quaint shops, cafes and art galleries welcome a visitor debarking from the ferry. Nature trails and parks such as the Bloedel Reserve and the 318-acre Gazzam Lake Park are being developed to allow for intimate experiences of the unique island landscape.

The Suquamish Indians enjoyed the islands rich resources, untouched forests and peaceful beaches for thousands of years. In 1792 Captain George Vancouver anchored his HMS Discovery at Restoration Point, beginning an exploration of the island and its inhabitants, a description of which can be read in his British Survey of Puget Sound. In 1841 Charles Wilkes christened the island for a hero of the War of 1812, frigate captain William Bainbridge. The sawmills of Port Madison and Port Blakely, known worldwide for its abundant commerce, brought visitors from the village of Seattle. Before and during WWII strawberry fields flourished on the cleared lands of the island through the hard working Japanese American and Filipino communities, an experience captured in local writer David Guttersons Snow Falling on Cedars. Like most island communities, the waterfront shaped Bainbridges growth. The Hall Brothers Shipyard brought in more commerce and trade while settlements grew around the Mosquito Fleet Ferry landings. The water transportation these ferries provided allowed local communities to take root and develop.

Today foot and car ferry service continues to allow for a constant flow of locals and visitors to experience some of the Northwest past preserved on the island. While Winslow flourishes as a waterfront urban setting and 305 traffics through the island, rural roots can still be enjoyed off the paved path through protected natural sites and the historical landmarks of the islands early exploration, discovery and development.

Community Links:

Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce

Bainbridge Island Community Network

Bainbridge Island Lodging Association

Bainbridge Island Downtown Association

Bainbridge Island News

Bainbridge Review Community News Paper

Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District