Port of Grays Harbor History
Grays Harbor has played a significant role in the establishment of public ports in Washington State. It was Hoquiam businessman Frank Lamb who was one of the key leaders pushing the 1911 Washington State legislature to adopt the Port District Act. This legislation, signed by then Governor Marion Hay on March 14, 1911, established the laws that would allow communities like Grays Harbor to form their own public port. Citizens of what was then Chehalis County (renamed Grays Harbor in 1915) voted December 12, 1911 to form a countywide port district, only months after the Port of Seattle was founded. This year both ports, along with all of Washington's public ports, are celebrating the centennial of public ports in Washington State.
From the loading of the billionth foot of timber in 1924 to the growth of the commercial fishing fleet in Westhaven Fishing Base (today's Westport Marina), to the development of Moon Island Airport into today's modern Bowerman Airport, the Port of Grays Harbor's history is rich in trade and economic development.
The Port of Grays Harbor has partnered with Washington Public Ports and historylink.org to compile a history on the Port. To read more about the history of Grays Harbor and other ports check out www.historylink.org.
Download "A Century of Milestones", a timeline of important milestones at the Port of Grays Harbor.
To celebrate the Port of Grays Harbor centennial, the Port took history into the classroom with worksheets designed to teach fourth grade state learning requirements. Test your knowledge while learning more about the Port of Grays Harbor with these worksheets.
All photos: © Jones Photo Historical Collection
Celebrating the loading of the one billionth foot of timber aboard the Japanese steamer Kashu Maru in 1924 at the Port of Grays Harbor No. 2. The timber was 80 feet long by 30 inches wide and 30 inches square. More than 300 spectators endured the freezing weather to witness the historic loading.
Passenger surround the United Airlines airplane that called Bowerman Field in 1967.
Westport has always served as the commercial and sport fishing hub on the Pacific Coast as shown in this photo of the Fish Dock in 1940.
Rail has always been a key piece of infrastructure linking Grays Harbor’s marine terminals to the producers of North America. In 1957 the Port owned two locomotive, No. 10 and No. 5. No. 10 was a new diesel locomotive that replaced the steam power of the decades before.
Fishermen launch their boats to fish the Harbor in this photo of the new Westport Boat Launch in 1964.
Aerial view of the Port of Grays Harbor marine piers 1 & 2 in 1956. Log rafting was a common practice for moving logs from the forests downstream to the Port’s docks. This area has since been filled and is now the land under Renewable Energy Group (REG), Westway Terminals, and AGP. Part of the warehouse in the center left of the photo still stands today.
The Port of Grays Harbor has served as the local sponsor to the US Army Corps of Engineers as they developed projects on the coast to protect navigation. Here a group of dignitaries view the construction of the South Jetty in 1937. The construction of the North Jetty followed in 1942.
Bowerman Airport History
Washington Coast's Jet-Capable Airport
|1942||WWII, Moon Island Airport Expanded by US Army|
|1946||Robert Bowerman returns from war and founds Western WA Airways|
|1950's||Airport owned by GH County|
|1953||Airport renamed Bowerman Field in honor of Robert's efforts|
|1962||County transfers airport to Port ownership|
|1990||Port upgrades airport with ILS|
Moon Island Airport, or Bowerman Field, as we know it today, has been around since the 1940’s and has gone through many changes in its history.
In 1942, in the middle of World War II, the United States Army granted funds to expand then Moon Island Airport. Then in 1946 after World War II was over, Robert Bowerman who was a fighter pilot during the war returned home and formed Western Washington Airways and worked hard with his company to promote Moon Island Airport.
In 1953 Robert Bowerman was honored for his work at Bowerman and his service to his country as Moon Island Airport was renamed Bowerman Field Airport .In the 1950’s Bowerman Field was owned by Grays Harbor County but the Port of Grays Harbor did give money on occasion to aid in the upkeep of the Airport. By 1962 ownership of Bowerman Field would change as the Port of Grays Harbor took over full ownership and operation of Bowerman Field from Grays Harbor County at the first of the year.
In 1971, the Commissioners of the Port of Grays Harbor decided to upgrade Bowerman Field and add an Instrument Landing System (ILS). This system would make Bowerman, “The best-equipped airfield of its size and use on the West Coast,” said then Port Manager E. W. Clocksin. The ILS was installed in late 1992 after funding and study was completed.
Fast-forward 15 years to 2007 when the Port of Grays Harbor worked with the FAA to revamp the ILS and raise the glide slope.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the Port of Grays Harbor equipped Bowerman with GPS systems that allows for better landing then the ILS.
Recent improvements to the airport include beacon replacement, electrical upgrades and runway maintenance.