FORT WARD WA2023-06-01T20:10:19+00:00

All things past and some things present at historic Fort Ward, WA

Select a historic building or site above as your portal into the stories and lore of historic Fort Ward, Wash. 

Fort Ward was established 1900-1903 as part of the Puget Sound coast defense network, which also included Fort Worden (Port Townsend), Fort Casey (Whidbey Island) and Fort Flagler (Marrowstone Island) – three installations whose big guns formed the “Triangle of Fire” to protect the entrance to Puget Sound from the threat of invading navies. Fort Ward was the fourth fort in the network (and second-smallest, just ahead tiny Fort Whitman on Goat Island inside Deception Pass).

Fort Ward had two distinct periods of activity under two different branches of the military: the first period as a US Army Coast Artillery Corps installation (1900-1928) and later as Naval Radio Station (also Naval Radio Activities) Bainbridge Island (1938-1958).

It was during the second period, through World War II, that Fort Ward saw its most historically significant activity: at top secret Station S, where radiomen (and women) eavesdropped on enemy radio traffic in the South Pacific; at the guardhouse-turned-radio school, where enlistees learned Morse code, radio intercept, and eventually advanced cryptology from alumni of the famous “On the Roof Gang.”  In 1944, Fort Ward even welcomed the first class of WAVES – Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service – to be deployed for this top secret radio station work.

As you explore Fort Ward history, consider the two distinct eras and how buildings from the Coast Artillery Corps period were repurposed and took on dramatic new roles during World War II.

Visit us in person, and find these echoes from the past in the many wonderful historic buildings and sites that remain to the present day, in the vibrant neighborhood that is historic Fort Ward, Wash.

Aerial view of Fort Ward, looking north to south, 1932, after the Army Coast Artillery Corps had moved out and before the Navy moved in to put its own significant stamp on the fort and make an even greater mark in history.. Many of the buildings you see in this image are still here – how many can you identify? – plus a few hundred new houses that make up today’s Fort Ward neighborhood.

Things have changed, but there’s still a wealth of historic sites to be found as you walk the neighborhood, evidence of Fort Ward’s exciting historic past. We hope this website will inspire curiosity, guide you to those sites, and share some of the stories from our past along the way. We’ll be adding more photos and resources as we go – there are plenty of stories waiting to be told about historic Fort Ward.

The Dispatch – news from historic Fort Ward, WA

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