Seattle's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and More | Seattle, Washington | KING5.com

State may order clean-up at Bainbridge Island's Blakely Harbor

Once the site of a bustling sawmill, contaminants may remain at Blakely Harbor.

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — The Washington Department of Ecology is considering an environmental clean-up operation at Blakely Harbor on Bainbridge Island due to possible contaminants. 

From 1863 until 1922, the harbor was the site of a thriving sawmill.

Ecology plans to take sediment samples from the site in July and will formulate a plan.

There was a time sleepy Blakely Harbor was bustling with activity, home to the most productive sawmill in the world. 

“Of all places in the world, it was the busiest sawmill - it had the largest number of ships and this was where you came,” said Gabe Lynch, who enjoys hiking the trails at the site.

And if you can't imagine this bustling scene, they've got the photos to prove it at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. 

“Bainbridge Island was a bigger center of commerce than Seattle was at the time,” museum Administrative Coordinator Dan Groff explained.

A town sprung up around the operation. Workers were brought in from all over the world. 

By the 1920s, the operation ended and the land was eventually turned over to Bainbridge Metropolitan Parks. They have worked to slowly bring it back.

Ecology could deal with contaminants left from those bustling sawmill days, including creosote and metals that could be in the soil and sediment. 

“It's hard to come back from dockyards and shipyards and sawmills and everything - nature can't do it all,” Lynch said. “If we could help mother nature reclaim this area we could help improve the quality of living of everyone on this island.”

Ecology said they will know more when they get test results back on what is out there. They hope to have public meetings in the fall or winter. The entire process could take 5-10 years.