Posted by: wadahp | April 21, 2011

COMMUNITIES SHAPED BY WATER (no. 15)

Distribution Communities

View of: Ca. 1900 view of Home, a socialist colony founded in 1896. Source: University of Washington Digital Collections, Social Issues Collection.

Distribution communities, such as Seattle flourished due to their central location. Ships could be dispatched quickly to reach both north and south sound locations. Deep water ports were essential as ship sizes increased. Early distribution centers such as Olympia gradually diminished in role due to harbor depths and the travel distance from north sound communities and the Pacific Ocean. These communities developed extensive waterfront piers and warehouses for temporary storage of goods prior to shipping and distribution. Links with the expanding inland network of railways expanded their distribution role to becoming an intermediary for international goods from Asia headed to the Midwest and East Coast of the United States. The role of rail also increasingly prompted export communities to ship their resources to distribution points for shipment by rail instead of loading destination bound ships directly at the export community. The plats of distribution communities typically oriented towards the waterfront with a strong warehouse district along the waterfront with commercial and financial district behind and residential neighborhoods on the hills overlooking these activities. The multitude of shipping activity including not only the movement of goods but also passenger ferries defined the busy harbors of these ports. Traditional cargo handling methods transitioned to modern methods leaving the waterline of these communities defined by tall cranes for on and off-loading containers. Distribution communities were some of the first established in the region and provide ties back to both Hudson Bay Company and territorial development periods. Early communities include Steilacoom and Olympia and smaller examples of Union City supplying logging camps along Hood Canal.

View of: 1930-60 photograph of a residence along the shoreline of Hood Canal. Source: Washington State Library Photograph Collection.

Brief Growth of Colonies

A brief emergence of colonies along the Salish Sea marked an unusual period of social change in the region’s history. National social movements looking to establish model communities that they hoped would eventually lead to larger social reform began seeking out locations along the Salish Sea during the late 1800s to early 1900s. Leaders from the various movements were drawn to the navigability of the sea’s many waterways as a means for trade that avoided reliance upon the railroad systems. The major communities to emerge were Puget Sound Cooperative Colony, Freeland, Blanchard, Burley and Home.

View of: 2011 photograph of a log cabin built out on pilings along Hood Canal. Source: Artifacts Consulting, Inc.

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