Gig Harbor, located in southern Puget Sound, received its name from the Wilkes Expedition in 1841. History indicates that the captain’s gig led the expedition into this small harbor during a storm that came up quite suddenly, hence the name, “Gig.” Following the Native Americans, the early settlers were fishermen, farmers, boatbuilders, and lumbermen. Gig Harbor was dependent mostly upon land and water travel until 1940, when the first Narrows Bridge was built; however, it collapsed in less than a year after being built. The replacement bridge was not completed until 1950, but with its construction, Gig Harbor grew very quickly and became a bedroom district of Tacoma and the greater Puget Sound area. Fishing remains one of the mainstays of Gig Harbor commerce, although there are presently no sawmills or lumber mills in the area.
Donald R. Tjossem