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Brackett's Wharf and Sawmill

An early fixture on the Edmonds waterfront, Brackett's wharf and sawmill set the stage for what would become an uninterrupted row of shingle mills and other industries stretching the length of the shore.

George Brackett, the founder of Edmonds, was born in 1841 in eastern Canada. He was one of 20 children.

Like his father, young George worked as a logger in New Brunswick and coastal Maine. In the late 1860s, he moved west in search of cheap timber and growing markets. He arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1869, and found work as a logger clearing timber from present-day Ballard and Magnolia.

Brackett dreamed of founding a lumbering town with readily accessible timber, abundant fresh water, and safe moorage. But the coastline north of Seattle was mostly steep hills and bluffs, and thus not good prospects for what he had in mind.

In 1870, while exploring Puget Sound by canoe, he was forced ashore by high winds. Coming onto a sandy beach at what would become today's Brackett’s Landing park, he saw a acres of low-bank shoreline covered with timber and riddled with fresh-water streams. The water off the beach was deep enough for ships to come into a pier. He returned to Seattle to complete the Ballard logging operations, but never forgot what he’d seen.

Two years later, he returned and paid $650 for 147 acres of beach and prime timberland. It was the first concrete step in realizing his dream. Within a few years he built a small wharf at the foot of today’s Bell Street, and soon added a sawmill and loading dock near the present-day ferry terminal.

Despite being small and inaccessible to shipping traffic at low tide, Brackett’s wharf served as the only boat landing in Edmonds for many years. When fire destroyed the mill in the early 1890s, the wharf escaped the flames. It continued as Edmonds’ primary moorage until 1902, when City Wharf was completed at the foot of Main Street.

Today all traces of Brackett’s wharf are gone. The last rotting pilings were removed in 1988 to make way for the breakwater at Brackett’s Landing park.

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