WEEKEND: Navy Band at Fort Flagler on Sunday helps illustrate rich defense history of Peninsula’s old forts

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

NORDLAND –– Built as massive outlets to hold off invasions of foreign forces, the forts built on the North Olympic Peninsula to protect Puget Sound now have replaced soldiers with ukuleles and horns.

The story of Admiralty Inlet’s military forts is laid out in a new book written by David M. Hansen titled Battle Ready: The National Coast Defense System and the Fortifications of Puget Sound.

“They represent the most complete and sophisticated system ever to defend the important harbors of the United States,” Hansen writes.

They were built, according to Hansen’s book, to withstand invasions from the United Kingdom or Japan that never came.

Soon after, Forts Flagler, Worden, Casey and Ward were built to create the country’s most heavily fortified bases, World War I warships were developed that rendered the protection penetrable.

“We spent a lot of money on these forts that were really only relevant for a very short time,” Hansen said. “But we still have assets from those efforts.”

One of those assets will be the setting of a free party Sunday, as the Navy Band Northwest plays at Battery Bankhead at Fort Flagler, 10541 Flagler Road on Marrowstone Island, at 3 p.m.

The Navy Band will play patriotic favorites by composers such as John Philip Sousa, Karl King, Henry Fillmore and Irving Berlin during the Friends of Fort Flagler’s final free concert of the summer.

No Discovery Pass is needed.

The barracks complex at Fort Worden in Port Townsend will be filled next week with ukulele players, as Centrum hosts the Port Townsend Ukulele Festival on Sept. 3-7.

In its second year, the ukulele festival is booked for participants, and performances scheduled for
Sept. 6-7 are sold out.

“So even if we don’t need them for defense anymore, we’re still putting them to good use,” Hansen said.

The fort complex, at its height at the turn of the 20th century, had more than 300 men working on it, though Hansen notes many of them quit to try for riches in the Alaska Gold Rush.

Hansen studied history at the University of Washington before moving on to do graduate work at the Preservation Institute in Nantucket, Fla.

Later, he was a historic preservation officer with the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, specializing in military architecture.

Retired in Olympia, Hansen found the time to study the Puget Sound forts for Battle Ready, recently published by Washington State University Press.

Hansen’s book is available from Washington State University Press. The large-format paperback retails for $32.95.

Last modified: August 28. 2014 7:02PM
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