The steamship Hyak shown underway.

The steamship Hyak

The Key to Dogfish Bay


Henry and Clara Husby, shown here circa 1910 with daughter Helen.

Henry and Clara Husby, shown here circa 1910 with daughter Helen, made do with this tent house until their permanent-structure home could be completed Henry was the town's first storekeeper. (photo courtesy of Henry Husby)
It was a most desirable location, that peninsula of virgin land. With a border of clear waters free of the rough currents that rocked nearby Puget Sound, it was irresistible to the early pioneers, and later to the U.S. Navy in search of its ideal torpedo test range.

For the pioneers, who painstakingly cleared and cultivated the peninsula by hand, it was a haven for fishing, farming, and ranching.

The first known homesteader in the area was Olaf Stub, who came with his son Henry in 1880. Francis Oscar (F.O.) Ekstedt and his wife Hannah soon followed in 1883 and settled in what is now South Keyport. The area proved popular and attracted still more homesteaders who settled in as the 19th century wound its way to a close.

By 1900 enough homesteads had risen from the forest to warrant a name for the fledgling town. Peter Hagen and brothers Oscar and H.E. Kuppler took the lead. Studying a map of the United States, they found -and decided on-the name Keyport. A perfect choice, Peter argued, since the townsite was really the key to Dogfish Bay (later renamed Liberty Bay) off Poulsbo.

The Keyport general store was built in 1903 and run by a young man named Henry Husby who later married Clara, daughter of pioneer F.O. Ekstedt. The store

The Hagen familly shown in front of the farm.

The Hagen farm was equipped with a water tower and windmill to provide "modern" running water in the home. Standing is Gunda Hagen, left, with an unknown visitor and dog. Showing their Scandinavian descent are children Esther Norum, Viola Hagen, and Hanna Norum. (photo courtesy of Alice Norum Peterson)

Photo of the general store and post office.
Andrew Hanson built Keyport's first General Store and Post Office and leased the building out to storekeeper, Henry Husby. The store, perched on the edge of the beach, was next to the community dock at the end of the peninsula. The building was moved in 1914 to the newly developed town of Keyport at the edge of the torpedo station, and it remains there today as the Keyport Mercantile. (photo courtesy of Alice Norum Peterson)
Photo of Grange Hall.
Residents on the peninsula looked forward to Saturday night socials at the Grange Hall. "This was a way to eat out as there were no restaurants," said Esther Norum Sommerseth, who was a child at the time. Musicians entertained, a clergyman delivered a sermon, and neighbors got caught up on each others'comings and goings. Socials were often held to raise funds for needy people. This building was later used as a barracks for Station sailors for nearly 25 years.

was located on the tip of the peninsula and had a dock for all residents to use.

The first county road between Keyport and Brownsville was opened that year, creating a much needed link.

The Keyport area continued attracting homesteaders throughout the early part of the century. Five of those families had, unfortunately for them, chosen to live on the peninsula which eventually became the torpedo station: Hagen, Husby, Norum, Petterson, and Thompson.

In 1914, when they were required to leave, the families, all of whom expected to spend a lifetime as neighbors on their quiet peninsula,went their own ways.

When Peter Hagen and the Kuppler brothers named the town, they posted a sign declaring it "Keyport." There was some opposition to the new name, however, and an unknown critic pulled down the sign. Peter reposted it, but before he knew it, it was down again. The sign went up and down, over and over, until the critic gave in and the name "Keyport" prevailed.

Photo of quiet cove with houses and boats.
The Albion and Dingo rest quietly with another boat for the winter in the sheltered waters between Virginia Point and Cove Point. These two fishing boats were owned by Carl "Pete" Peterson and W. Carlson, neighbors on Cove Point, or Crowder Point, as it was known in Keyport for years. The building was used for storing nets.

Photo taken from the water showing boat and house.
The home of Alfred Petterson sits quietly on the shores of the South Lagoon. This home was salvaged by the Navy and was used for many years as Quarters B. (photo courtesy of Ruth Reese)

Photo of North Lagoon.
The peninsula had two lagoons. The North Lagoon, shown near the store and dock provided a small safe harbor for fishing boats and a swimming hole for the children. Much of the lagoon has been filled-in today, but its sandbar still exists and can be seen at low tide near the Station's Mk 48 Torpedo Shop, Building # 514.
Photo of South Lagoon
The South Lagoon was much larger than the North Lagoon and it, too, was reduced greatly in size some years later to increase the land-area of the torpedo station.

Fishing boat shown from the water with a house in the background.
Early residents earned their livings by farming, ranching, and especially fishing. If a man didn't have a fishing boat, he strove to get one, as fishing was one of the most reliable sources of income. This photo was taken just off the area outside of what was to become the Pacific Coast Torpedo Station. (photo courtesy of Alice Norum Peterson)
The Husby's moved the store, building and all, just outside Navy land to an area newly developed into lots and streets by A. B. Moe. The Pettersons settled in town as well, while the Hagens and Norums barged their belongings across Liberty Bay to Lemolo. The Thompsons left the area altogether and settled in Seattle.  
Legend has it that Dogfish Bay was so named because its waters were so thick with dogfish that the pioneers could literally rake them onto shore.
Photo of corral in foreground and houses in background.
There were few horses available to the Keyport Peninsula pioneers. Most of the clearing and planting was done by hand. This photo, taken in 1913, shows the lay of the land and existing structures, looking northeast. From left, the Norum home, Hagen home, grange hall general store (in distance), and Thompson home. (photo courtesy of Alice Norum Peterson)

Photo of farm with water in the background.
Paul Thompson owned this farm at the mouth of the South Lagoon. This house became Quarters C when the Navy purchased the land.
The earliest steamers had no docks for dropping off supplies and visitors. The sound of three whistles set the rowboats in motion as residents hurried out to their floats to see what the ship had left for them.
Photo of the steamer at the Keyport Dock.
The steamer Hyak makes one of its twice-daily stops at the Keyport dock

Photo of a comfortable house with the familly standing on the porch.
"As a first move toward the permanent improvement of the new torpedo station at Keyport," began an article in the October 28, 1914 edition of the Bremerton News, "the navy department has ordered Commander H.N. Jenson to take command and it is understood that one of the cottages now being overhauled will be for his occupancy." The 'cottage,' above, was given up by the Anton Norum family, shown on the porch. The Norums moved to a cabin in Lemolo causing the children to lament that, although 'camping out' was fun, they missed their big house with its two indoor bathrooms that Commander Jenson was enjoying. (photo courtesy of Hannah Norum Langer)
Photo of familly out rowing a boat.
Keyport residents enjoy a row boat ride on the South Lagoon. (photo courtesy of Ron Hoff)

TorpedoTown Home
TorpedoTown Home Page
Next chapter
Next chapter


Copyright © 1997-2007, Historic Naval Ships Association.
All Rights Reserved.
Legal Notices and Privacy Policy
Version 3.00