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Island History


Lieutenant Peter Puget, under the command of Captain George Vancouver, explored what is now known as Case Inlet in Puget Sound, in May 1792. On the 23rd of May, the sailors didn't get underway until 8:00 AM, much later than usual, due to the very heavy fog in the area. Because a new group of Indians was encountered at the mouth of the Nisqually river, and Lt. Puget didn't know whether they were friendly or not, the ship delayed landing until 2:00 PM that afternoon. Just after the landing, another squall, with heavy rains and wind gusts, prevented them from proceeding any further that day.

The tiny island they landed upon was dubbed "Wednesday Island".

The ship's botanist, Archibald Menzies, whose job it was to explore every place they landed, refused to venture from the landing site to collect soil and botanical specimens, due to the heavy rain and wind.


In 1841, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes of the United States Navy, re-explored, recharted (and frequently renamed) the islands and other geographical features of Puget Sound.

Large and important islands were named for his most important sailors. Smaller islands were named for his lessor sailors. Lt. Wilkes named Wednesday Island for Lewis Herron, one of the barrel makers on the expedition.


Herron Island is a completely private island. It was incorporated on April 30, 1958 as Herron Maintenance Co. (HMC), a non-profit, non-stock Washington corporation consisting of the owners and purchasers of property on Herron Island. HMC is governed by its ByLaws and administered by an unsalaried Board of Trustees elected annually from the membership. The Board is responsible for overseeing the operations and maintenance of the corporation's properties, and establishing a balanced budget to fund these operations. Herron Island is funded solely by annual and special assessments paid by the members and by the ferry fee. Herron Island does not receive any funding from the local, state or federal government, yet members pay the same fees and property taxes as the mainland.


Corporate properties include the North Beach Park and small boat docks, the South Beach (undeveloped), roads and rights of way, Goodpastor Park and adjacent wetlands, Community Building and Fire Station, water system, ferry and ferry docks, as well as numerous greenbelt lots throughout the island. All other land is privately owned. Ownership of waterfront lots includes the tidelands down to the mean sea level.


Today, Herron Island is one of the few privately-owned islands in Puget Sound. All access to the island is by boat, mostly aboard the HMC ferry, the "Charlie Wells", and a guest pass signed by an HMC member is necessary to board the ferry.


photo by Erin Layne

Herron Island is a unique and beautiful piece of the Northwest, with abundant wildlife and friendly residents. The people here wave at you, even if they don't know you, and the deer eat out of your hand. The island is 1.50 miles long, and 1/2 mile across. We have about 150 full-time residents, several hundred weekenders, and many, many deer.

Below are links to articles on island history from our Beachcomber archives.

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