This blog covers trips from the book and other favorites. Contact Rob in Seattle: or 206-465-7167


Coastal Defense on Puget Sound

Above Elwha River mouth.
In the late 70's I was a student at Marrowstone Music Camp then located at Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island. Since it was summer, playing my cello all day didn't necessarily appeal to me, so my friends and I and others snuck away to hide from our instructors in the park's numerous World War 1 era coastal defense bunkers.  We knew where every searchlight bunker, observatory pillbox and gun battery was.  There were even rumors of a closed tunnel that extended across the park, which in years since we found didn't exist. At the time the park was in poor condition and most of the emplacements were overgrown yet open entirely, whereas since many doorways, slits, and ladder entries have been welded shut.

This introduction led me in my youth to an interest in local coastal defense emplacements. I researched and old blueprints dating to the late 1890's and locations of most of the emplacements throughout Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and near Cape Flattery.

The first emplacement was Civil War era and located next to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse on the Columbia River mouth. The next series were constructed for the Spanish American War in 1898.  These includes the extensive forts in Puget Sound such a Fort Flagler, Worden, Casey, and a few on Rich Passage.  There's even a gun battery on Goat Island near La Connor.  The final stage was built to keep the Japanese away during World War 2. In all the above cases, history progressed to where each were outdated soon after their completion.  The 18" wide diameter muzzle cannon at Salt Creek Rec Area west of Port Angeles was fired only once, then was scrapped.

Fort Casey St Park, Whidbey Island.
Not all are mapped or easily found. There's several observatory pill boxes along the length of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Kayakers have found a mysterious iron door attached to a rock face west of Agate Point (Crescent Beach).  Our favorite emplacement, Battery Lee at Fort Flagler is falling off the cliff just above the Marrowstone Light House.  Much of it's lower searchlight rooms are on the beach.  The bunker was three levels with ladders going through vertical tunnels to each level. Perfect for hiding from music instructors!
Salt Creek Rec Area. WW2 Era.

Fort Casey, Whidbey Island.

Fort Ebey, Whidbey island.

Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at or 206-465-7167

Support the Washington Water Trails Association and the Cascadia Marine Trail. The wwta works to create and protect access for paddlers on Puget Sound as well as provide an extensive network of over 60 paddle-in camping sites -

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