Both a inlet body of water and a town, “Port Orchard” or “Poor Tortured” is a Port along a Puget Sound strait that separates Bainbridge Island from the Kitsap Peninsula. It extends from Liberty Bay to Agate Pass from the North to Sinclair Inlet and Rich Passage to the south. It was named by Captain George Vancouver after Harry Masterman Orchard of his crew, who acted as the clerk for the “Discovery” in 1792.
Originally a seasonal encampment by local indigenous populations for fishing and coastal activities, it soon became settled by Euro-Americans by 1854 when William Renton and Daniel Howard established a saw mill here. It was platted by Frederick Stevens in 1886 and first named “Sidney” after his father. It was incorporated as Sidney on September 15, 1890. It soon after became a military installation by the U.S. Navy. It was renamed to Port Orchard in 1892 by request of its residents at the time. This caused some controversy as a nearby town called Charleston had also wanted to change its name similarly. The Post office went through with the change and it wasn’t until 1903 that the state recognized the new name officially.
Today it is called “Port Orchard”. It is a charming little Port town with historic character and preservation, scenic beauty, and small town hospitality. It is a gem for artisans, craftspeople, and fishing. Seated within Kitsap County, en rout from the Mainland to the Olympic Peninsula, this historic small town of approximately 11,144 residents (2010 Census) greets some ferry tourists from the mainland with a slice of Pacific Northwest magic. Great views of the Sinclair Inlet, Hood Canal, and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. It is located close to Bremerton and is only 13 miles away from Seattle to its East, but is a quick ferry ride to either Seattle or Vashon Island.
The area was devastated by a tornado on December 18, 2018 with winds of 120-130 mph uprooting trees, destroying around 450 buildings, and a short-lived evacuation due to gas leaks.