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Residents from the opposite side of America founded Port Gamble around a sawmill in 1853; hence its New England-style architecture mimicking founder Capt. William Talbot's hometown of East Machias, Maine. Its setting amid the Kitsap Peninsula's tall stands of timber brought in great profits, but the mill was later destroyed by fire, and much of the forest has disappeared. Today many of the houses in this quiet town are on the National Register of Historic Places. A walk will take you past the 1870 St. Paul's Episcopal Church as well as the Thompson House, thought to be the state's oldest continuously lived-in home.
Altogether, the settlement is a burgeoning tourist attraction gathered into a compact clutch of small shops and businesses. Every Sunday from April to October is the Sunday Market, where you can browse stalls of antiques, local crafts, produce, and flowers. Live music provides a background to the scene.
The town also stages three major summertime festivals: the Arts & Crafts Fair, the Medieval Faire, and the Civil War reenactment performances. The latter takes place each June in the hills beyond Port Gamble, along Highway 104. This is also an excellent hiking area, with numerous back-country trails tracing the edges of the battlefield grounds. These tracks, some former service roads, cut through miles of thick woodlands and old-growth forests that surround the town and the edges of the water.
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