During the late 19th century, military officials were concerned that hostile fleets may gain access to the Puget Sound, which housed the Bremerton Naval Yard and large cities such including Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett. It was believed that the most likely entrance from the sea into the Puget Sound would be Admirality Inlet. In order to protect the vulnerable inlet, three forts were constructed: Fort Worden, near Port Townsend, Fort Casey, at the southern end of Whidbey Island, and Fort Flagler, on Marrowstone Island. Construction on the three forts began in 1897, and continued until the 1950’s when the forts were closed. The properties were opened as state parks in 1955. Though the parks are similar, each offers a unique experience to visitors.
Fort Worden has plenty of day use sites where visitors can enjoy a nice picnic or small fire while overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Mt. Baker, and the Port Wilson lighthouse. The Coast Artillery Museum contains collections including a 3D scale model of the structure of the fort along with the emplacements for the two 12-inch disappearing guns that were kept in readiness from 1910-1943. The Commanding Officer’s Quarters can be accessed by visitors, and has been restored and furnished in late Victorian fashion, providing a glimpse into the life of an officer and his family during the early 20th century.
In addition to the beautiful views,beachcombing, hiking and biking trails, and picnic sites available at all the parks, Fort Casey features the Admirality Head Lighthouse. Intepretive panels inside the lighthouse tell the history of the area surrounding Fort Casey, starting with a brief cultural history of the Native Americans from the area, through the first pioneers, and finally construction of the fort. Visitors may also take guided tours of the gun batteries at Fort Casey with a volunteer battalion leader.
Fort Flagler offers 256 feet of dock as well as 7 mooring buoys for visitors arriving by boat. The on-site military museum features displays about area history. If you take the gun emplacement guided tours, you’ll get a chance to learn about fort operations and see projectile lifts and sliding targets in action! The 1905 military hospital is also open for tours.