Port Orchard, located within Kitsap County, was rated the #1 place to live in the country by Money Magazine, August 1990. It is located (map) in the western portion of Washington State. The city of Port Orchard covers a 2.5 square mile area and is home to just under 5,000 people. It is known as South Kitsap County . A scenic waterfront community, with numerous lakes and many miles of saltwater frontage, Port Orchard offers spectacular views of the Olympic Peninsula to the north, Mt. Rainier to the south, and Seattleand theCascades to the east. It was a area of mild temperatures ranging from the mid 40's in January to the mid 70's in July and August. Rainfall averages about 52 inches a year , keeping the landscape green year round.
A SHORT HISTORY
Port Orchard was named after H. M. Orchard, a clerk aboard the Sloop Discovery. He was sailing with Captain Vancouver, who was charting the Puget Sound area and he helped to discovered the opening to the waters where Port Orchard is now located. Originally called Sidney, Port Orchard was platted in 1886 by Frederick Stevens, who named it after his father Sidney. The Illinois inventor, Sidney M. Stevens came west from DeKalb, IL for a family visit to the Long Lake area. He liked what he saw so much that he paid $900 for 88 1/2 acres with the intention of creating a town. The town was platted in 1886, and was the first in the county to be incorporated in 1890.
The boundaries were similar to those today-Sinclair Inlet on the north, Mitchell Road on the east, South Street on the south and one block west of Short Street on the west. Early industry was primarily lumber and the loggers that frequented the nine saloons in town. The town of Port Orchard was incorporated September 15, 1890, and was the first in Kitsap County to be both platted and incorporated.
It became the seat of Kitsap County in 1893. As restless spirits began to feel cramped by encroaching civilization, they sought a new frontier. Thus many small communities sprang up along the South Kitsap waterfront in the 1880's. Transportation depended on the water and in the early days was often by row boat until the introduction of steamer service in 1888. So many small boats dotted the waters they looked like a swarm of mosquitoes and thus got the name Mosquito Fleet depending upon a "Mosquito Fleet" of passenger vessels for transportation. The spirit of the "Mosquito Fleet" lives on today in the foot ferry which links Port Orchard and Annapolis with Bremerton.
Many visitors first view Port Orchard from the water. Its large public marina draws boats from as far away as British Columbia and Alaska, and hosts a large reunion of Chris Craft owners every year. Marina Park, with covered gazebo and boardwalk, offers beach access and is the site of the Port Orchard summer outdoor Farmer's Market. Annual festivals, community parks, and close proximity to larger cities make this a great place to call home.
Strolling along downtown's Bay Street is a little like stepping back in time. The Plaza Barbershop, with its candy-striped pole, has been a landmark since 1915. At Myhre's Cafe, where the regulars linger over pie and coffee, you can still get an old-fashioned milk shake. Downtown restaurants offer a variety of cuisine, including seafood and ethnic dishes.
Kitsap County has experienced rapid growth and dramatic physical developments during the past decade. In just ten years, the population of the county jumped from 147,000 to nearly 190,000. New schools have been added and old facilities refurbished, and over 18,580 new homes have been built.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of living in Kitsap County is being able to enjoy a peaceful life-style while being only a short ferry ride away from Seattle, and access to corporate centers and markets, sophisticated cultural events, and professional sports competition. Truly, Kitsap County offers the best of both worlds. There is even more information available on the Pages of Kitsap County.
Ferry The Washington State Ferry System provides Kitsap County with a unique linkage to Seattle. Numerous daily runs leave Bremerton, Kingston, Bainbridge Island, and Southworth. Seattle is one hour away from downtown Bremerton or thirty minutes from Bainbridge Island. West Seattle is a 30-minute run from the Southworth terminal in the south end of the county. There is also a ferry run in the northern part of the county connecting Kingston to Edmonds, north of Seattle. Ferry system vessels can handle all travelers from pedestrians to large trucks.
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