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Port Townsend Hidden History Tour uses tech to reveal town's past

Past and present merge to reveal this town's colorful history. #k5evening

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — A person in Victorian-era garb leading a crowd of the curious isn't an unusual sight in Port Townsend. Actors from Key City Public Theatre lead 'Hidden History of Port Townsend' tours twice a month, free of charge. But if you can't catch a guided tour you can still explore the town's past with present-day tech. 

"Anytime I see a family around a sign reading it, or maybe using the phone, getting the QR code, I'm like yes! That's the connection through modern technology, to history, with community," said Nathan Barnett of the Port Townsend Main Street Program, one of many local organizations behind the project, which repurposed more than a dozen signs that dotted both uptown and downtown Port Townsend. "We wanted to call out history," said Barnett. "So we pivoted them to these interesting historical stories around Port Townsend."

Whether you scan a QR code or take the in-person tour, both promise a deep dive into this town's colorful past — from the trained trout that once swam in the town's fountain, to the practice of 'crimping' which had nothing to do with hair. Simply strolling Port Townsend's streets is a glimpse back into the late 1800s, since many of the town's buildings from that era still stand today. But taking the 'Hidden History Tour', whether you do it with a Victorian helper or on your own, with your phone, will leave you with some interesting stories to tell about this town's past. 

"If you're coming to Port Townsend for an opportunity to just see the city,  take just a second and think about what it was when this was The City on the Olympic Peninsula - this was a grand stop. Enjoy." Barnett smiled. 

Port Townsend Hidden History tours are free, the first and third Saturday of each month, click here for more information.

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