Vashon is a census-designated place (CDP) in King County, Washington, United States. It covers an island alternately called Vashon Island or Vashon–Maury Island, the largest island in Puget Sound south of Admiralty Inlet. The population was 10,624 at the 2010 census and the size is 36.9 square miles (95.6 km2).
The island is connected to West Seattle and the Kitsap Peninsula to the north and Tacoma to the south via the Washington State Ferries system, as well as to Downtown Seattle via the King County Water Taxi. The island has resisted the construction of a fixed bridge to preserve its relative isolation and rural character. Vashon Island is also known for its annual strawberry festival, sheepdog trials, and agriculture.
Vashon Island sits in the midpoint of southern Puget Sound, between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. The island lies along the 700-mile (1,130 km) fault line known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which last saw a major rupture in 1700, but the potential of the zone could cause one of the worst natural disasters in the history of North America.
Native American inhabitants
Up until the late 1700s, Vashon and Maury Islands were inhabited solely by American Indians, and there is evidence of human activity on Vashon Island dating back 10,000 to 12,000 years. Historical data from the era when the first Native Americans settled Vashon–Maury Island is limited. Some of the Native peoples known to have lived on Vashon Island were the Marpole culture from about 7,000 years ago, the Salish about 1,000 years ago, and the S'Homamish starting about 500 years ago, the latter of which established 5 known major village sites. The Tulalip Indians is another tribe that populated the villages along the shores of both islands. Fishing was abundant in the cold saltwater of the central Puget Sound basin, helping Native American tribes to thrive. Moreover, the many waterways and inlets provided easy travel by way of canoe.
The first non–Native American to explore and the first to chart this island was Captain George Vancouver, during his surveys of the Puget Sound area with the British Royal Navy. The island was named on May 28, 1792, by Vancouver after his friend James Vashon of the Royal Navy. Starting in 1824, different explorer and settler groups stayed on Vashon Island.
Maury Island, immediately to the southeast of Vashon, was named in 1841 by then Lt. Charles Wilkes in honor of William Lewis Maury, an officer in the United States Exploring Expedition. Maury was naturally separated from Vashon by a narrow passage, until local landowners decided to build an earth bridge, or isthmus, linking them together in 1916, thus creating the hamlet of Portage. Therefore, the two-piece isle was renamed Vashon-Maury Island. Between the two sections, it covers nearly 37 square miles (96 km2).
The first logging on the island began in 1852. By 1855–1856, the S'Homamish people were interned at Fox Island. European-Americans settled Vashon Island between 1865 and 1890. During that time the main economies on the island were fishing and logging.
In 1890, Japanese Americans started growing strawberries for sale. Denichiro Mukai came to the island in 1910 and became renowned for barreling fresh strawberries using a special method that concentrated flavor and moisture in the fruit and permitted long-distance shipping. In time, Mukai designed and built his own home and elaborate garden and then constructed a sturdy timber framed barreling plant. During the peak years, ice cream, jam and preserve makers across the West were customers of Mukai, relishing the oak barrels for their lingering flavor and mythologizing about the island of strawberry fields. This became an important part of the island economy during the next 50 years, until the Japanese American population was forcibly relocated into internment camps as a response to Japanese/American tension caused by WWII.
In 1892, Vashon College opened in the Burton section of Vashon. During its operation, it was one of the leading colleges in the area. It burned down in 1910.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Vashon CDP has a total area of 80.8 square miles (209.3 km2), of which 36.9 square miles (95.6 km2) comprise the island and 43.9 square miles (113.6 km2) are the waters of Puget Sound surrounding the island.
To the west Vashon Island is separated from the Kitsap Peninsula by the Colvos Passage. The Dalco Passage separates Vashon Island from Tacoma to the south. Neighborhoods of Vashon Island include Magnolia Beach, which had a post office from 1908 to 1953, and Raeco, with a post office from 1907 to 1911
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,123 people, 4,193 households, and 2,838 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 273.9 people per square mile (105.7/km2). There were 4,867 housing units at an average density of 131.7/sq mi (50.8/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 93.61% White, 0.45% Black or African American, 0.70% Native American, 1.56% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.87% from other races, and 2.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.56% of the population.
There were 4,193 households, out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were non-families. 23.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.86.
In the CDP, the population was spread out, with 23.2% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 34.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $58,261, and the median income for a family was $67,010. Males had a median income of $50,201 versus $36,426 for females. The per capita income for the island was $31,983. About 4.6% of families and 6.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.2% of those under the age of 18 and 2.2% of those 65 and older.
Based on per capita income, Vashon ranks 32nd of 522 areas in the state of Washington to be ranked.
While orchards and strawberry farms formerly played a major role in the Vashon economy, the pressures of suburban residential development have all but eliminated any major commercial agriculture on the island. However, many small farms operate on the island, providing locals with fresh organic produce, milk, and eggs.
Despite the changes, the island continues to observe the tradition of holding a Strawberry Festival every July. In certain areas like Dockton, a significant amount of private property was occupied and subsequently seized from Japanese-American citizens who farmed strawberries on that land until World War II, when they were moved to internment camps away from the island.
Local orchards and wineries are established on the island, with some focusing on developing perry, an alcoholic beverage derived from pear juice instead of grapes. There are at least three wineries that produce 100% locally produced wines and other alcoholic-based beverages
There are no bridges to Vashon Island, so all access to the island is by sea or by air. Most travel on and off the island is on the Washington State Ferry system. A bridge connecting Vashon to Seattle and Kitsap County was planned in 1959, but was ultimately not funded. A second bridge proposal from the Washington State Transportation Commission was withdrawn in 1992 after objections from island residents.
Vashon Municipal Airport is on the northern half of the island. There is no regularly scheduled air service to the airport.
King County Metro provides bus service down the length of the island daily. During peak commute times on weekdays, the buses drive on to the ferry to Seattle. On September 10, 2016, on-island Sunday service returned to Vashon. Route 118 provides islanders with Sunday service for the first time in many years, mirroring Saturday schedules and helping riders connect with both ferry terminals and other destinations in between.
Ferries to Vashon
The southern terminus of the Vashon Highway is the Tahlequah Ferry Terminal in the Tahlequah neighborhood, connected to the Point Defiance neighborhood of Tacoma by the Point Defiance–Tahlequah ferry. The northern terminus of the Vashon Highway is the Heights Dock at Point Vashon, serving the state ferry docks at Southworth, and Fauntleroy in West Seattle. Passenger-only service from Heights Dock to Colman Dock in Downtown Seattle is provided by the King County Ferry District, with three sailings in each direction during the morning and afternoon, Monday through Friday
The Vashon Sheepdog Classic occurs each year at the Misty Isle Farms, with local food and merchandise vendors, with all profits going to area nonprofits. The trials are completed by a team composed of a dog and its handler who are released into a shedding ring and work to herd the sheep into specific areas. The island is also home to the Vashon Island Golf & Country Club.
Vashon Island Properties
About the Neighborhood
Listings courtesy of Northwest MLS as distributed by MLS GRID. Based on information submitted to the MLS GRID as of Sep 27, 2023 9:05:am. All data is obtained from various sources and may not have been verified by broker or MLS GRID. Supplied Open House Information is subject to change without notice. All information should be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. Properties may or may not be listed by the office/agent presenting the information.