Allyn, Case Inlet

Allyn, Case Inlet

by | Jul 4, 2022

Allyn is a community at the mouth of Sherwood Creek on the western shore of Case Inlet in the North Bay region of South Puget Sound, about 21 miles (34 km) northwest of Tacoma and 17 miles (27 km) northeast of Shelton, Washington. The community was first settled in 1853 and named after Judge Frank Allyn on September 6, 1889. Sherwood Creek is fed by Schumacher Creek, Mason Lake, and Trails End Lake, and flows generally northeast for 9 miles (15 km) to Case Inlet. The creek is named after Joseph Sherwood, a millwright from Vermont, and his brother Warren who settled here in 1854 and operated a sawmill. Case Inlet is named after Augustus Case and extends for about 16 miles (26 km) from Johnson Point at the confluence of Dana Passage and Nisqually Reach in the south to within 2 miles (3.2 km) of Hood Canal in the north creating the isthmus connecting Kitsap Peninsula. The area represented by South Puget Sound generally consists of the north-south trending Puget Lowland trough, flanked by the foothills of the Cascade Range to the east, the Black Hills near Olympia to the south, and the Olympic Mountains to the west. The underlying bedrock is mostly Oligocene marine sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone, and Eocene basalt flows, mudflow breccias, and interbedded fine-grained sedimentary rocks of volcanic origin. The bedrock is buried by unconsolidated Quaternary deposits that reach depths of more than 3,400 feet (1,036 m). The deposits represent six continental glacial episodes, two alpine glaciations, and six interglacial intervals. The most recent deposits are of the Vashon Stade of the Fraser Glaciation which created landforms by moving continental ice sheets that generally trended south to southwest. At Allyn, Vashon glacial till consisting of clay, silt, sand, and gravel was deposited directly by retreating ice. Streams such as Sherwood Creek subsequently eroded and transported the glacial sediments to the shoreline of Case Inlet where they were either deposited or directed northward by the prevailing sediment drift. Shore structures such as bulkheads, groins, and boat ramps have beach sediments accumulating along their southern sides, and small-scale erosion is occurring to the north of some of the obstacles. A small spit, located about 0.7 miles (1.2 km) south of Allyn, is also prograding northward.

Little is known about the earliest human inhabitants of Puget Sound that arrived shortly following the retreat of the last glaciers around 13,800 years ago. However, these early ancestors of the Coast Salish tribes left behind petroglyphs in many Puget Sound locations including Enetai, Harstine Island, and at Victor across Case Inlet from Allyn. The Coast Salish tribes of South Puget Sound include the Squaxin, Duwamish, Nisqually, Snoqualmie, and the Steilacoom people. First contact with Europeans probably occurred in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver anchored off of Blake Island and sent Lieutenant Peter Puget south to explore the many embayments of the south sound in hopes of discovering the fabled Northwest Passage. In 1818, both Britain and the United States claimed the Oregon Country but agreed to a joint occupancy. In 1841, the U.S. Exploring Expedition under the command of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes explored Puget Sound. Lieutenant Augustus Case and a crew of men portaged from the head of Hood Canal to present-day Case Inlet by way of an ancient Native trail which is shown as a dotted line on the expedition map. In 1846, the Oregon Treaty established the boundary at the 49th parallel and Puget Sound became U.S. territory. From the 1870s to the 1920s, Allyn was served by a small flotilla of steamboats known as the Mosquito Fleet that connected communities along Case Inlet before a road network was built. These boats steamed across the waterways of South Puget Sound transporting people and goods. By sailing nearly anywhere there was water, the Mosquito Fleet was essential to the region’s growth by allowing people to live anywhere along the shoreline and still stay connected to the world around them without the use of roads or rail lines.

By 1890, Allyn had a post office, school, newspaper, sawmill, two saloons, a hotel, and an economically important wharf that stretched across the tidal mudflats to deep water. The Port of Allyn was formed in 1921 to maintain a commercial dock for both Allyn and the neighboring community of Belfair. The dock at Allyn was a trestle extending 580 feet (176 m) out from Drum Street, in the same location as today’s Allyn Dock. A wharf was built at the end of the trestle that was 61 feet (18.6 m) wide by 73 feet (22 m) long. A covered warehouse was on the north end used for many years to store lumber, hay, grain, and other trade goods for local businesses. The south end had a storage shed, that eventually was converted to an oyster processing plant. The last scheduled steamboat run from Tacoma to Allyn occurred in 1924. As roads improved and auto, bus, and truck transport became popular, stores moved closer to the highways and commercial water traffic declined. Today, the main road through town is State Route 3. In the 1920s and 1930s, logging and farming were the principal industries employing Allyn and Belfair residents. During the 1940s, civilian workers employed in Bremerton at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard occupied all available housing within driving distance of work including the communities of Allyn and Belfair. During World War II, the U.S. Navy built about 48 miles (77 km) of railroad from Shelton to the Bangor Submarine Base in Silverdale. The railroad is currently operated and maintained under contract with Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad. During the war years, the oyster industry grew substantially due to the rationing of meat and increased consumption of fish and shellfish as meat substitutes. The North Bay of Case Inlet is very productive for shellfish and the covered shed on the wharf at Allyn was leased to a succession of oyster companies for a period of 30 years and continued to be used until 1974 when the dock was renovated. Read more here and here. Explore more of Allyn and Case Inlet here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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