Docks close, future remains clear
By Isaac Escovedo, ReporterDock Blocked
What will we call Dockton when there’s no more dock? Vashon has had docks for as long as it’s had white settlers, and without these docks, Vashon is at risk of losing tourism from sailors. The Dockton and Tramp Harbor docks have been popular fishing, swimming, and boating destinations on Vashon Island for years, and with their closing
“The fisher people … like the Tramp Harbor Dock because of its deep water access. There’s a shelf that dips down pretty precipitously down at the 300 foot mark and it’s excellent fishing,” Elaine Ott-Rocheford, Vashon Parks Department executive director, said.
Without this fishing location, fishers will have to take to boats for the majority of their fishing, seriously impacting their hobbies and the way they practice them.
The removal of these docks will not just affect fishers, but the multitude of teenagers who spend their summers swimming there.
“It makes me very sad, and it makes a lot of people sad,” junior Mackenzie Shore said. “There’s nowhere for people to hang out on the island, so they should not close it.”
Shore echoes the sentiments of many island teenagers. With a decreasing number of places to spend time and things to do on the island, teens are turning elsewhere and spending less time in public settings.
The disappearance of Vashon’s final docks also reflects a centralization of business that has been happening on Vashon for years.
“There were 28 major docks on Vashon by about 1910,” Mike Kirk, Vashon resident and amateur historian, said. “The docks were crucial to Vashon life. They were used to deliver Vashon farm goods to markets and to take people off island to see a doctor.”
Vashon’s docks seemed to start diminishing in the 1930’s and 40’s. With larger ferries sailing routes to Vashon, the need for such a large and diverse set of docks shrunk.
“I think Vashon is popular as a site for boats,” Kirk told me, moving on to his opinions on the closing of the docks in the modern day. “In the event of an emergency there’s very few places for us [the fire department] to put in our boat. We also made plans with Vashon Be Prepared to land a landing craft by the Tramp Harbor dock.”
Despite Vashon’s 53 miles of coastline, there are very few places to land emergency craft, and with the removal of the Tramp Harbor Dock especially, Vashon may be risking unpreparedness in the event of an emergency.
The closing of the island’s final docks doesn’t guarantee that there will never be another public dock on Vashon. The Tramp Harbor Dock was forced to close when their insurance company decided it was too much of a liability to keep open, and the Dockton Dock closed for similar reasons. Despite the complexity of navigating Federal Tidelands leases, ecological permits, and securing funds, the Vashon Parks Department is working tirelessly to solve the Tramp Harbor Dock situation.
“Ultimately the goal will be to build a new dock in Tramp Harbor, or possibly renovate the old one,” Ott-Rocheford said.
Docks played a crucial role in Vashon’s history, and whether they’ll make a resurgence or not can only be determined by the coming years.