The oyster industry has been a mainstay of the area's economy for many years.
Local workers shucking oysters at Sargent Oysters
Allyn Community Association
The shellfish industry has been an important part of Allyn for over 100 years.
ALLYN SETTLED 1853
The town of Allyn is situated on North Bay at the head of Case Inlet and about 4 miles from Hood Canal. In the mid-1800's there was much logging in the area and finally in 1853 settlers gathered and built homes. Lumber was needed to build these homes and Joe Sherwood, a millwright from Vermont and giant of a man (standing 6 feet 7 inches tall) set to work building a mill in 1854. The creek on which he built his mill was Sherwood Creek which still bears his name. Joe Sherwood was killed in 1873 when a peavey handle broke and snapped his neck. Allyn was already shipping lumber, venison and huckleberries and as the little settlement grew it became well known in Tacoma and Olympia; Tacoma having been first settled just a year before Allyn. John and Delilah Eberhart and their family settled on 149 acres in 1887. John's younger brother, Phillip, took up land to the south. Phillip is the one for whom Eberhart Cove is named. Their neighbors were the Gill family, who settled on Gill's Point in 1886.
ALLYN PLATTED 1889
Many influential people had visited the area and were impressed with the location and beauty, and it was a very popular vacation spot. Through the prodding and pushing of many business people and land owners, John and Delilah Eberhart and their son, George, joined with James and Deborah Wickersham and platted the town of Allyn and papers were filed September 6th, 1889. Wickersham named the town of Allyn after his friend, Judge Frank Allyn of Tacoma who was very influential in the early development of Allyn. Wickersham, a Tacoma attorney and judge, was experienced at platting towns. He also platted a town on Hood Canal just south of Clifton (now Belfair) called Bergen.
THE TOWN DEVELOPS
By 1890 Allyn had a post office, school, newspaper, sawmill, two saloons, a hotel and wharf. In due time a doctor arrived, a drug store, real estate offices; businesses flourished. A newspaper, The Allyn Times, was published telling of the advantages of living in Allyn. The L.W. Daniels and Son saw mill had an ad running for rough and planed lumber and shingles. In the final two months of 1889 a Mr. Doyle of Tacoma and Mr. McKenzie of Shelton proposed to put in a lumber camp on Sherwood Creek, and a boat yard and wagon shop was to start up soon across the bay. The Malany Brothers' new steamer, the Detroit, planned to run into Allyn on a daily basis coming from Tacoma; stopping first at Shelton and a Mr. Baldwin planned to open a barber shop.
A wood sidewalk was built near the waterfront along Gross Street where the Allyn waterfront Park is located today. In 1890 the county was clearing stumps and brush to finish the main road, Sherwood Avenue, to within a mile of Clifton (now known as Belfair). There were orders at a local mill for enough material to build 12 buildings in the town and a long wharf was planned and later built just north of where today's Allyn dock is located. The Post Office which was established on March 24, 1890, closed for a while in 1900 and the mail was sent to Victor, across the bay. It was reopened in Allyn in 1901 with John Eberhart as Postmaster.
Oystering also became an important industry in the early days of Allyn. In the late 1890's and early 1900's there were as many as nine oyster growers, the largest being W.W. Waldrip. In the mid 1900's there were two companies that were the main operators, Sargent Oyster Co. near the head of the bay and Coast Oyster in front of Allyn. Together they produced an average of 25,000 to 40,000 gallons of processed oysters per year. Sargant's still sells oysters locally and Taylor Shellfish ships all over the world. Brush picking and huckleberries provided a good living for many people but berry picking stopped many years ago and brush picking dwindled to the extent that Kirk Company sold their plant to the Port of Allyn.
In the late 1800's there was much land speculation as Allyn, Union, Detroit Township (near Grapeview) and Lilliwaup all expected to have railroad connections with the rest of the country. Wickersham and his law partners organized a corporation to build a railroad between Allyn and Bergen but Bergen never prospered and was later abandoned. In the 1889 issue of The Allyn Times it was reported that “President James Wickersham of Peninsular Railway was in Allyn last week to look over the proposed route of survey for a railroad to Hood Canal.” Allyn was referred to in these articles as Portage City referring to the geography of the area between Case Inlet and Hood Canal. In the fall of 1891 it was suddenly apparent the railroad was not to be, and many investors lost heavily. The promotional schemes at Detroit and Lilliwaup went broke. Allyn survived as logging, farming and oystering continued as industries.
ALLYN 100 YEARS OLD - 1989
In 1989, 100 hundred years after it was platted, Allyn had a Post Office, fire station, beauty shop, hardware store, market and grocery, restaurant and lounge, bank, real estate office, insurance company, waterfront park with a dock and launch ramp, tavern, novelty and craft shop, liquor store, deli and gas station, drive-in restaurant, counseling service, second hand store, two oyster companies and a brush processing company. Lakeland Village development, a residential and recreational corporation begun in the late 1960's, has grown over the years into a major community and today (2004) includes over 700 homes, a 27 hole golf course, a large club house for resident and public use, and a restaurant.
NOTES ON HISTORY OF ALLYN
Compilation of notes from Irene Davis, Elton Cleveland and Dorothy Gornick
and newspaper accounts by Bonnie Knight