Dockton: A Busy Center for Shipbuilding and Repair
The village of Dockton located on Quartermaster Harbor formed one of the first major settlements on the island and was an industrial center of the south Puget Sound region for a brief period in the 1890s. Dockton was named by the Puget Sound Dry Dock Company which had a ship yard and drydock (the largest on the west coast) there from 1892 to 1909. The shipbuilding and repair activities continued at Dockton with the Stucky and Martinolich yards producing boats until 1929 when the Janet G, the last commercial boat built at Dockton, was launched.
Dockton was a residential community to support the shipyards, with two hotels and Piano Row, the row of houses above the shipyards where managers and foremen lived; the only ones paid enough to afford pianos in their parlors!
As shipbuilding began to decline after the dry dock moved in 1909, Dockton began a slow gradual transformation into the quiet backwater community it is today. For awhile in the 1910’s there was a major cannery at Dockton, but as Puget Sound salmon runs peaked in 1914 and began to decline, the cannery soon began to can bottom fish, and then closed as catches declined.
The community of Dockton fought hard to get connected to the rest of the island by road, and finally the county approved construction of a road across the Portage between Maury and Vashon Island and to Dockton. When the road opened in 1918, Dockton was fully part of the Island, no longer isolated and accessible only by water.
The Dockton Store, which included the Post Office, opened in 1920 and became the center of the community until the store closed in the 1980s.
Today, Dockton is a historic community with few remnants of its past left. The pilings from the shipyards and dry dock, the building that the store occupied, the fish boat piers and net houses, and Piano Row are all that remind us that Dockton was once an industrial center in the southern Puget Sound region.