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Heritage of other Kitsap Communities
Bainbridge Island | Bremerton | Kingston | Port Orchard | Poulsbo | Silverdale

        Poulsbo's strong Norwegian heritage began over 100 years ago in the late 1880's. Jorgen Eliason is credited with founding Poulsbo. Jorgen, his sister Rakel and his 6 year old son E.J. came to Poulsbo from Fordefjord, Norway, by way of Michigan in 1883. A month after Jorgen's arrival, Ivar B. Moe with his wife and three sons arrived from Paulsbo, Norway, via Minnesota. They settled at the head of the bay to develop a farm on land that has since become Poulsbo Village Shopping Center. Because of it's majestic snow-peaked mountains and fjords, Poulsbo was soon settled by many more Norwegian and Scandinavian immigrants who likened the landscape to their beautiful Norway.

    For many years, Norwegian was the only language spoken by the citizens of Poulsbo. In 1886, Ivar B. Moe felt there was enough people on Dogfish Bay (later named Liberty Bay) to warrant a post office. He made an application and called the new town Paulsbo. The Postmaster General misread Moe's handwritting and listed the new post office as Poulsbo. Transportation in Poulsbo's early years was by boat, horseback and foot. Major buying and selling was via a boat trip to Seattle's Pike Place Market. Fisherman from the Bering Sea brought their catch of codfish here for salting and preserving----one of the largest codfish processing plants in the Northwest. It was also here that lutefisk was processed. Townspeople and visitors can still eat lutefisk at the First Lutheran Church's annual Lutefisk Dinner the third Saturday of each October. This church, founded by those early Norwegian settlers, sits on the bluff overlooking Poulsbo. Service is held in Norwegian each year during Viking Fest.

    A "mosquito fleet" of steamers sailed from Seattle to Poulsbo for some 60 years, carrying passengers and freight. Poulsbo's strong ties to the water is still evident today, with the presence of three marinas on the shore of Liberty Bay..

    The downtown waterfront area was at one time part of Liberty Bay. In the 1950's the community worked together to fill part of the bay to form Liberty Bay Waterfront Park and Anderson Parkway. Some of the buildings you see today were once on pilings. The Kvelstad Pavilion, a popular spot for summer weddings and family gatherings, was added to the waterfront park later. Within a span of five generations, Poulsbo has changed from a rowboat on an untouched shore to a thriving community with "small town" charm.


Sister City




This information was provided by The Kitsap County Historical Society
and the

Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce.


This project was developed by Community Concepts© and is being hosted by Donobi®