Vashon, Washington

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Location within King county
Location within King county
Vashon is located in Washington (state)
Location within the state of Washington
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
 • Total37.0 sq mi (95.8 km2)
381 ft (116 m)
 • Total10,624
 • Density290/sq mi (110/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
98070 & 98013 (Burton)
Area code(s)206
FIPS code74305
GNIS feature ID1512758[1]
Detailed map of Vashon Island, Washington

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 37 square miles (96 km2). There are no bridges to connect the island with the mainland, and this contributes to the island's relative isolation and rural character.


Vashon Island sits in the midpoint of southern Puget Sound, between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. 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. Originally, a smaller island sat to Vashon Island's southeast side. Captain Vancouver named the main island Vashon after a fellow captain in 1792. Fifty years later, the smaller island was given the name Maury Island after a British navy crew-mate. 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 40 square miles.[2]

The island was named on May 28, 1792, by the explorer George 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 to the last 10,000–12,000 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.[3]

In 1890, Vashon Islanders started growing strawberries for sale. This became an important part of the Island economy during the next fifty years. In 1892, Vashon College opened in the Burton neighborhood on Vashon. During its operation, it was one of the leading colleges in the area. It later 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 that connects the two.

The First Native American Inhabitants

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, which helped 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 only inhabited by American Indians. Today, lasting reminders of previous Native American Indian tribes exist through the Indian 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 today include Manzanita Beach, Kitsap Peninsula and Chautauqua Elementary School.[4]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 37.0 square miles (96 square kilometres).

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.


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.[5]


As of the census[6] 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.


The economy of Vashon Island is heavily based on residents commuting to Seattle and Tacoma. 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 consequently seized from Japanese-American citizens who farmed strawberries on that land until WW II where they were moved to internment camps away from the island.[7]

Vashon's economy took another hit in recent years when it 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".[8]


Vashon Island from Point Defiance Park

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, which services 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 King County Ferry District with three sailings in each direction during both the morning and afternoon, Monday through Friday.

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 Monday through Saturday.[9]

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.[10]

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

Downtown Vashon


Public schools: There are three public schools provided by the Vashon Island School District#402:[11]

Private schools: There are two private schools in Vashon.[13]

  • The Harbor School (grades 4 to 8).[14] 65 students are enrolled as of September 2013.[13][15]
  • Carpe Diem Primary School (Kindergarten to 3rd grade). 26 students are enrolled as of September 2013.[16]

There are no private high schools (grades 9 to 12) on Vashon Island.

Broadcast radio stations[edit]

In 2014 a small, non-profit media outlet, Voice of Vashon, acquired a Low Power FM radio broadcast license from the FCC. KVSH-FM went live on 101.9FM in October 2014, and is also available for live streaming at Voice of Vashon's website. ( 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 watts 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, is now KFNQ and owned by CBS. It transmits 50,000 watts day/night and now operates 3 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 Communications. KJR 950 shares the towers at the KGNW site, transmits 50,000 watts day/night, and is owned by Clear Channel Communications.

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.

Notable people[edit]

Places of note[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.[19][20][21][22]
  • Vashon Farmer's Market.[23]
  • Sea Breeze Farm. Pioneers of sustainable farming.[24]
  • Seattle Distilling Company. Microdistillery and Vashon's first legal distillery.[25]
  • Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie. Located in the heart of what was formerly the island's town center, this coffee shop is located in a building almost 100 years old, and 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.[26]
  • Fisher Pond. A 90-acre terrestrial and freshwater conservancy.[27] The largest on Vashon Island.
  • Jesus Barn Farm. A farmstead founded in 1893. During the 1960s it was turned into agrarian lifestyle commune. Local lore suggests this is when the iconic 'Jesus' was first painted on the side of the barn.[28]
  • Andrew Will Winery. Established 1989.[29]
  • Misty Isle Farms. 525 Acre farm that produces Misty Isle Angus Beef.
  • All-Merciful Saviour Monastery. A Russian Orthodox Monastery located on Maury Island. All-Merciful Saviour Monastery Website


  1. ^ "Vashon". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ "Vashon-Maury Vashon Island History". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  3. ^ "Vashon-Maury History Timeline: A Sense of Place". Vashon History. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  4. ^ Retrieved 22 April 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Climate Summary for Vashon, Washington
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Vashon Island neighborhood bus routes, King County Metro, retrieved 2013-06-04
  10. ^ "Metro to add more trips, improve bus connections - King County". August 30, 2016. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  11. ^ Vashon Island School District website, retrieved 2012-04-02
  12. ^ a b c "Vashon, WA, Schools". Trulia. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  13. ^ a b "Vashon, WA, Private Schools". Private School Review. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  14. ^ Harbor School, retrieved 2012-04-03
  15. ^ "Harbor School, Vashon, WA". Trulia. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  16. ^ "Carpe Diem Primary School, Vashon, WA". Trulia. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  17. ^ Reames, Arborsculpture: Solutions for a Small Planet, 2005 p.50 ISBN 0-9647280-8-7
  18. ^ Dremann, Sue (27 September 2002). "The amazing adventures of Chabon". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  19. ^ Breathed, Berkeley (1994). Red Ranger Came Calling: A Guaranteed True Christmas Story. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0316102490.
  20. ^ "Vashon Island, Washington: Bicycle Eaten by Tree". Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  21. ^ Johnson, Eric. "Vashon mystery: how did the bike become embedded in the tree?". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  22. ^ Cohen, Lindsey. "Vandals strip Vashon Island's iconic 'bike-in-a-tree'". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  23. ^ "Vashon Farmer's Market".
  24. ^ Sea Breeze Farm
  25. ^ Seattle Distilling Company
  26. ^ Vashon Park District. "Point Robinson". Vashon Parks. Retrieved 6/9/15.. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  27. ^ Fisher Pond. "Fisher Pond". Vashon Park District. Vashon Park District. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  28. ^ Cline, Chris. "About JesusBarn Farm". JesusBarn Farm. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  29. ^ Jonic, Chris. "History: Andrew Will Winery". Andrew Will Winery. Retrieved 2015-06-09.

External links[edit]