Gig Harbor, Washington
is located at 47.4° North, 122.6° West. It has a population of about 6,500.
In 1841, a US Navy expedition, headed by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, explored Puget Sound. Several longboats and a small boat called a "Captain's Gig" were used in the expedition, and stayed in the harbor to wait out a storm. The Lieutenant refered to the bay as "Gig Harbor" and the name stuck.
In 1867, John Farragut, Peter Goldsmith, and Samuel Jerisich rowed south from British Columbia to fish in the sound. They entered the harbor to seek shelter at night, and Jerisich liked the area so much that he decided to stay. He set up a small fishing community with the Native Americans there, and soon immigrants came to the area, mostly from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. In 1887, the transcontinental railroad reached Tacoma, which opened the area up to another wave of immigration. Fishing remained the major business on the peninsula, with fishing expeditions reaching all the way north to Alaska. Logging was also important, with several mills built on the west side of the harbor.
During this time, people and equipment were ferried across the Tacoma Narrows by ship during this time, either longboat or steamboat. Between 1912 and 1930, more than 140 wooden boats were built here. However, the invention of the automobile soon caused demand for a more direct link between the peninsula and the mainland.
The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge closed the gap in 1940. However, due to a aerodynamic design flaw in the bridge, it soon started to twist and buck in the wind. The bridge acquired the nickname "Galloping Girdy" and collapsed four months after completion. A new bridge, completed in 1950, does not have the same structural problems as its predecessor.
The City of Gig Harbor was incorporated in 1946 due to the need to provide public water to the people of the town. It has since developed into a little slice of suburbia for Tacoma and the greater Seattle area.
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