A Brief History of Port Angeles

A Brief History of Port Angeles ...

Adapted from information obtained from the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

In the early 1790's, Spain was forced to pull out of the Olympic Peninsula. She ceded all of her enormous claims throughout the New World to France in 1800. The area that would be Port Angeles lay dormant for the next 50 years, its only inhabitants the Indians.

Unknown to these residents of this isolated region, changes were taking place.

Napoleon Bonaparte was restructuring Europe, Thomas Jefferson and others were molding the feisty young nation of the United States into a giant (it tripled in size with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.)

The peninsula's residents would soon find out how anxious the citizens of the United States were to push westward in search of land.

The United States received a strong claim to the Northwest when Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark took their overland expedition to the Pacific Ocean in 1804.

However, the "Oregon Country" (all the land from the Columbia River northward) still lay open to settlement by both England and the United States, and both claimed it.

Land hungry Americans began settling throughout the territory when two major U.S. expeditions were dispatched to the Puget Sound.

The United States Census showed five years later that over 1,000 white inhabitants were living north of the Columbia River.

Despite valid claims England had made on the Oregon country, it had to face the inevitable.

In 1846 a treaty with the United States was signed, locking the northern boundary at 49º North Latitude through the center of the strait of Jaun de Fuca.

With that matter resolved, Port Angeles awakened to the fact-approaching civilization as settlement of the Northwest began in earnest. Thousands of people were finding their way into Puget Sound country, many of them frustrated fortune seekers moving north after California's gold rush in 1849.

In 1852, a U.S. coastal survey first charted Port Angeles, naming it "False Dungeness." By then, Robert Fulton's invention, the woodburning steam engine was allowing Puget Sound boats to ease into almost any bay or inlet - a feat impossible for sailboats.

Steamboats, more than any other technological achievement, opened the door to Port Angeles and the Peninsula.

Washington was officially declared a territory of the United States in 1853. Clallam County was formed on year later. With all this activity taking place in territory they knew to be rightfully theirs, the Peninsula's Indians were disturbed.

During 1854 and 1855 it is estimated that in six treaties Indians in the Pacific Northwest gave up property rights to 64 million acres.

The 1855 Point-No-Point Treaty, negotiated by Stevens and Lkallam Chief Chetzemoka (also known as The Duke of York) claimed for the settlers a tract of land totaling hundreds of thousands of acres and reserved for the tribe a total of 3,840 acres at the head of Hood Canal.

This treaty also prohibited Chetzemoka's tribesmen from trading with their neighbors on Vancouver Island, required them to accept certain medical vaccinations, and prohibited the practice of slavery.

Congress ratified the Point-No-Point Treaty in 1859. Despite all of this, hostilities between white settlers and Indians were rare in Port Angeles, which was populated almost exclusively by bachelors.

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