Vashon, Washington

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Vashon, Washington
Location in King County
Location in King County
Vashon is located in Washington (state)
Location in Washington and the United States
Vashon is located in the United States
Vashon (the United States)
Coordinates: 47°24′58″N 122°28′6″W / 47.41611°N 122.46833°W / 47.41611; -122.46833Coordinates: 47°24′58″N 122°28′6″W / 47.41611°N 122.46833°W / 47.41611; -122.46833
CountryUnited States
 • Total80.8 sq mi (209.3 km2)
 • Land36.9 sq mi (95.6 km2)
 • Water43.9 sq mi (113.6 km2)
381 ft (116 m)
 • Total10,624
 • Density288/sq mi (111.1/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
98070 & 98013 (Burton)
Area code(s)206
FIPS code53-74305
GNIS feature ID1512758[1]

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).[2] The fact that there are no bridges to connect the island with the mainland contributes to the island's relative isolation and rural character.[3] Vashon island is known for its strawberry festival, sheepdog trials, and high rate of unvaccinated residents.


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 can cause one of the worst natural disasters in the history of North America.[4] Originally, a smaller island sat to Vashon Island's southeast side. Years later, the smaller island was given the name Maury Island after a British navy crew member. These two landmasses remained separated by water until local landowners decided to build an earth bridge, or isthmus, linking them together in 1916. Therefore, the two-piece isle was renamed Vashon-Maury Island. Between the two sections, it covers nearly 37 square miles (96 km2).[5]

The first non–American Indian 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. 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.

There is evidence of human activity on Vashon Island dating back 10,000 to 12,000 years. Some of the Native peoples known to have lived on Vashon Island were the Marpole from about 7,000 years ago, the Salish about 1,000 years ago, and the S'Homamish starting about 500 years ago.[6]

In 1890, Vashon Islanders started growing strawberries for sale. This became an important part of the island economy during the next 50 years. 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.

At that time, Vashon Island was separate from the neighboring Maury Island, but today the hamlet of Portage sits on an isthmus built in 1916 by local homeowners to connect the two.

Native American inhabitants[edit]

Historical data from the era when the first Native Americans settled Vashon–Maury Island is limited. However, archaeological discoveries and cultural histories point to human activity in the region as far back as 10,000 years ago. Tulalip Indians were one 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 many Native American tribes to thrive here. Moreover, the many waterways and inlets provided easy travel by way of canoe.

Up until the late 1700s, Vashon–Maury Island was inhabited solely by American Indians. Today, lasting reminders of previous Native American tribes exist through the names given to many landmarks, bodies of water and communities on Vashon Island. One such tiny village sits on the southern shore and sports the Native American name "Tahlequah". Other American Indian names which are still in use on the island include Manzanita Beach, Kitsap Peninsula and Chautauqua Elementary School.[7]


Vashon Island from Point Defiance Park

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.[2]

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.[8][9]


This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F (22.0 °C). According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Vashon has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[10]

Climate data for Vashon Island, Washington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
[citation needed]


Historical population
Census Pop.

As of the census[11] 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.


In 1994 the Vashon Island Committee for Self-Government circulated a petition calling for the incorporation of Vashon and Maury Islands. At the time only some 448 residents of about 10,000 signed the petition which was then filed with the King County Auditor.[12]

Public safety[edit]

Vashon Island Fire and Rescue (VIFR) is led by Chief Charlie Krimmert and is a combination professional-volunteer department. In June 2018 the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau (WSRB) downgraded the fire protection ration of some areas of Vashon Island due to the number of district volunteers and where they live, as VIF&R has no firefighters that live within 5 road miles of the north end station and only one who responds to the Dockton one.[13]

The island has an established emergency operations center manager who runs emergency drills with members of the community emergency response team (CERT) in order to provide the best response in times of emergencies such as earthquakes.[4] The drills were established as routine through the group VashonBePrepared, a nonprofit, FEMA-sanctioned coalition of disaster preparedness organizations that were previously established on the island. Sometimes the drills have members of the Washington Army National Guard participating and supporting the volunteers.[14]


According to Neighborhoodscout, Vashon Island is safer than 31% of United States cities.[15] There are some claims that the island is home to various "drug houses", a claim which has caused the Vashon Youth & Family Services to offer substance abuse counseling as part of the regular assembly of social services.[16]

Homicide rates on the island are extremely low, with only two homicides reported in the last twenty years and other forms of crime are also largely not seen. In 2005 the Police Department investigated one rape, six assaults, and forty-nine burglaries, in 2006 they investigated three rapes, eight assaults, and sixty-three burglaries.[17]

Major crimes on the Island include a serial rapist who operated from 2003 through 2010 until he was arrested and charged due to DNA evidence,[18] and an police officer who plead guilty to incest and other sex crimes involving his underage stepdaughter.[19]


The economy of Vashon Island is heavily based on residents commuting to Seattle and Tacoma.

Downtown Vashon


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. 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 majority of current property owned 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.[20]

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.[21] There are at least three wineries that produce 100% locally produced wines and other alcoholic-based beverages.[22]

Manufacturing and industry[edit]

Vashon has lost two of its major industrial employers: K2 Sports moved its manufacturing to China, and the Seattle's Best Coffee roastery operation was closed shortly after SBC was bought by Starbucks. Currently, the largest manufacturer on Vashon is Pacific Research Laboratories, locally referred to as "The Bone Factory".[23]

In 2014 it was reported that the company Edipure was to purchase the old K2 ski plant to manufacture more than 60 marijuana-based snacks including crackers, candy and gummy bears.[24]



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 from downtown Seattle to the island Monday through Friday, and down the length of the island daily.[25]

The island of Vashon has three public electric-vehicle-charging stations: at the high school, elementary school, and Vashon Coffee Roasterie.

Detailed map of Vashon Island, Washington


The southern terminus of the Vashon Highway is the Tahlequah Ferry Terminal, 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. Water-taxi 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.[26]

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.[27]

Health care[edit]

In 2016 it was reported that the medical clinic on the island had closed after CHI Franciscan Health had left the clinic, claiming financial concerns. Another provider, the non-profit Neighborcare Health, pledged to open a new clinic later in the year, alleviating the issue of transporting patients to hospitals off the island via the ferry, which can take upwards of three hours.[28]

Vaccination concerns[edit]

Many of those who live on the island choose not to vaccinate their children due to personal beliefs and concerns, with more than 98% that don't vaccinate citing "Personal" on the paper work instead of "Religious" or "Medical". The divide between beliefs has caused many arguments and resentment, with at least two separate Facebook pages, one now marked private, to share information and discuss with one another.[29] It was reported in 2015 that 23.1% of kindergartners in the Vashon Island School District legally opted out of vaccinations against diptheria and tetanus, whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, and Hepatitus B. The number at the time was five times the state average.[30]

Due to expanded access to vaccines, media coverage of the measles outbreaks, and education about the benefits of vaccination, the vaccine rate for the Vashon Island School District has risen over the years, even though it is still one of the lowest in the United States. The district's rates of students fully immunized has risen 31% in the past six years, from only 56% to 74% in the 2017-2018 school year, although it is below the 95% target rate for the rest of the country.[31] In 2019 it was reported that some 11.6% of families on the island had chosen not to vaccinate their children, and some claim that those who do not vaccinate their children and their children are excluded from gatherings or openly mocked.[32]


Public schools: There are three public schools provided by the Vashon Island School District #402:[33]

Private schools: There are two private schools in Vashon.[35]

  • The Harbor School (grades 4 to 8).[36] 65 students were enrolled as of September 2013.[35][37]
  • Carpe Diem Primary School (Kindergarten to 3rd grade). 26 students were enrolled as of September 2013.[38]

Arts and culture[edit]

The annual studio tour was created in the late 1970s by some of the potters who lived on the island. The group was rebranded in February 2018 as the Vashon Island Visual Artists, and they applied for non-profit status in 2015. The group now operates semi-annual tours of studios of local artists, classes, workshops, salons, exhibits, and social activities for artists, with membership around 300.[39]

The island is home to a choral group established in 1989 under the name Island Singers, and now known as the Vashon Island Chorale.[40]


Broadcast radio stations[edit]

In 2014 a small, non-profit media outlet, the Voice of Vashon, acquired a low-power FM radio broadcast license from the FCC. KVSH-FM went live on 101.9 FM in October 2014, and is also available for live streaming. The Voice of Vashon also operates a television station, Comcast Channel 21, and its emergency broadcast system at 1650AM. Each of these outlets serves Vashon and Maury Islands year round, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, with island-generated or specific information, entertainment and emergency alerts.

Maury Island is home to numerous AM transmitters. KIRO 710 (built in 1941) has two massive towers for its 50,000-watt day/night transmitter. KTTH 770, which transmits 50,000 watts during the day and 5,000 watts at night, shares towers with KFNQ. KIRO and KTTH are owned by Bonneville International.

There was a tower originally built in 1946 for KEVR 1090AM, which later became KING radio, and is now KFNQ, owned by CBS. It transmits 50,000 watts day/night and operates three towers. This site is shared with KTTH.

On Vashon Island, radio station KVI 570 has a single tower on a beach in Tramp Harbor, nicknamed "KVI Beach". KVI transmits 24 hours a day at 5,000 watts. KOMO 1000 transmits 50,000 watts day/night and has a three-tower setup on the northeast corner of the island. Both KVI and KOMO are owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

KGNW AM 820 propagates its signal from three towers in the center of the island. It operates 50,000 watts during the day and 5,000 at night. It is owned by Salem Media Group. KJR 950 shares the towers at the KGNW site, transmits 50,000 watts day/night, and is owned by iHeartCommunications, Inc.

These stations have located their transmitters on Vashon and Maury Islands because soil conductivity, important to signal propagation in the MW band broadcast frequency range, is greater than elsewhere around Puget Sound. The surrounding sea water is also helpful to MW propagation.

Sports and recreation[edit]

The island is home to the Vashon Island Rowing Club, which participates in many events such as the Opening Day celebrations on Seattle's Montlake Cut.[41]

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.[42] 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.

Notable people[edit]

Points of interest[edit]

  • The bike in the tree. A bicycle placed in the fork of a tree, allegedly when a child chained a bike to the tree decades ago and never picked it up, and the tree subsequently grew around it. This is a common local and tourist attraction, and has been subject to vandalism in recent years. The bike in the tree served as the inspiration for the Christmas book Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed.[45][46][47][48]
  • Vashon Farmer's Market[49]
  • Sea Breeze Farm, pioneers of sustainable farming[50]
  • Seattle Distilling Company, a microdistillery and Vashon's first legal distillery[51]
  • Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie. Located in the heart of what was formerly the island's town center, this coffee shop is in a building almost 100 years old, and is one of the earliest locations of Seattle's Best Coffee.
  • Point Robinson Lighthouse. Point Robinson Beach on the east shore of Maury Island has been the site of a lighthouse since 1885. The current Point Robinson lighthouse has been fully automated since 1978.[52]
  • Fisher Pond, a 90-acre terrestrial and freshwater conservancy,[53] the largest on Vashon Island
  • Jesus Barn Farm, a farmstead founded in 1893. During the 1960s it was turned into an agrarian lifestyle commune. Local lore suggests this is when the iconic "Jesus" was first painted on the side of the barn.[54]
  • Andrew Will Winery, established 1989[55]
  • Misty Isle Farms, 525-acre (212 ha) farm that produces Misty Isle Angus Beef
  • All-Merciful Saviour Monastery, a Russian Orthodox monastery on Maury Island


  1. ^ "Vashon". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001), Vashon CDP, Washington". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  3. ^ Todras-Whitehill, Ethan (2012-03-30). "Vashon Island, Near Seattle, a Rural Throwback". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  4. ^ a b Golden, Hallie (2019-01-30). "A small island town prepares for a major earthquake". Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  5. ^ "Vashon-Maury Vashon Island History". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  6. ^ "Vashon-Maury History Timeline: A Sense of Place". Vashon History. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  7. ^ Retrieved 22 April 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Meany, Edmond S. (1923). Origin of Washington geographic names. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 240.
  9. ^ "Post Offices". Jim Forte Postal History. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  10. ^ Climate Summary for Vashon, Washington
  11. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  12. ^ "Vashon Island Committee for Self-Government v. STATE BOUNDARY REVIEW BD. KING CTY". Justia Law. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  13. ^ Riemer, Susan (2019-05-08). "Islanders feel effects of poor fire protection rating". Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  14. ^ Grimley, Brynn (June 7, 2016). "The Big One hits Vashon: Drill gives volunteers chance to practice minus 'pure chaos'". thenewstribune. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  15. ^ "Vashon, 98070 Crime Rates and Crime Statistics - NeighborhoodScout". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  16. ^ Rowley, Paul (2018-03-27). "Drug problems persist on island, VYFS to offer treatment soon". Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  17. ^ Sullivan, Jennifer; Siderius, Christina (2007-08-21). "Sunday's fatal shooting alarms residents of sleepy Vashon Island". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  18. ^ (2011-12-01). "45 years in prison for Vashon serial rapist". KOMO. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  19. ^ "Veteran Police Officer Admits To Sex Crimes | The Spokesman-Review". Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  20. ^ "The Japanese Presence Project". Vashon History. Vashon History. December 29, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2016. 1942-1945: When Japanese residents were removed from the island, forced to leave behind most of their belongings and property, and imprisoned during World War II in the American concentration camps.
  21. ^ "Pears win awards on Vashon Island". KING. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  22. ^ "Vashon family winery opens, begins sales". Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber. 2015-12-09. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  23. ^ Markowitz, Eric (December 25, 2010). "How One Boss Gave Away His Company for Christmas". Magazine. Mansueto Ventures LLC. Retrieved April 29, 2016. The locals call it The Bone Factory.
  24. ^ Lynch, James (2014-03-14). "Weed Island? Company looks to make pot-infused snacks, candy on Vashon". Q13 FOX News. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Water Taxi
  27. ^ "Metro to add more trips, improve bus connections - King County". August 30, 2016. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  28. ^ Whittenberg, Jake (August 24, 2016). "Vashon Island just lost its only medical clinic". KING. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  29. ^ Lacitis, Erik (2015-03-15). "Vashon parents try to get along despite deep divide over vaccination". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  30. ^ writer, Rob Carson. "Nearly one-quarter of Vashon Island parents opt out of vaccinations for their children". thenewstribune. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  31. ^ Phan, Suzanne (2019-05-20). "Vashon Island, with its low vaccination rates, reacts to measles outbreak in Western WA". KOMO. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  32. ^ Ho, Sally (May 20, 2019). "'Hippie' island off Seattle sees shift in low vaccine rate". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  33. ^ Vashon Island School District website, retrieved 2012-04-02
  34. ^ a b c "Vashon, WA, Schools". Trulia. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  35. ^ a b "Vashon, WA, Private Schools". Private School Review. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  36. ^ Harbor School, retrieved 2012-04-03
  37. ^ "Harbor School, Vashon, WA". Trulia. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  38. ^ "Carpe Diem Primary School, Vashon, WA". Trulia. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  39. ^ Shepherd, Elizabeth (2019-05-01). "Studio tour is rite of spring on Vashon". Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  40. ^ Shepherd, Elizabeth (2019-04-24). "Chorale celebrates 30 years of song in concert this weekend". Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  41. ^ "VIRC masters place third at Opening Day". Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber. 2019-05-08. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  42. ^ McKinnon, Hether (2017-05-31). "Vashon's sheepdog trials are a treat for dog lovers — and knitters". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  43. ^ Reames, Arborsculpture: Solutions for a Small Planet, 2005 p.50 ISBN 0-9647280-8-7
  44. ^ Dremann, Sue (27 September 2002). "The amazing adventures of Chabon". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  45. ^ Breathed, Berkeley (1994). Red Ranger Came Calling: A Guaranteed True Christmas Story. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0316102490.
  46. ^ "Vashon Island, Washington: Bicycle Eaten by Tree". Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  47. ^ Johnson, Eric. "Vashon Mystery: How did the bike become embedded in the tree?". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  48. ^ Cohen, Lindsey. "Vandals strip Vashon Island's iconic 'bike-in-a-tree'". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  49. ^ "Vashon Farmer's Market".
  50. ^ Sea Breeze Farm
  51. ^ Seattle Distilling Company
  52. ^ Vashon Park District. "Point Robinson". Vashon Parks. Retrieved 6/9/15.. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  53. ^ Fisher Pond. "Fisher Pond". Vashon Park District. Vashon Park District. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  54. ^ Cline, Chris. "About JesusBarn Farm". JesusBarn Farm. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  55. ^ Jonic, Chris. "History: Andrew Will Winery". Andrew Will Winery. Retrieved 2015-06-09.

External links[edit]