From the time Seattle’s earliest settlers dropped a horseshoe on a clothesline into Elliott Bay to determine its depth, shipping has played an important role in the development of Puget Sound communities. Today, Seattle and Tacoma are among the most important seaports in the world.
The first goods shipped from Seattle were logs that would be used as dock pilings in San Francisco. Lumber and wood products still account for a good portion of the area’s exports, particularly from smaller ports such as Everett, Port Gamble, Port Angeles, Hoquiam, Olympia, and Bellingham. Seattle and Tacoma are important containerized shipping ports, where bulk and manufactured goods from airplanes to wheat are exported to Japan, China, Taiwan, Canada, and Australia. Telecommunications equipment, cars and trucks, clothing, and petroleum products are the primary imports, arriving from Canada, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Both the ports of Tacoma and Seattle continue to be national trade leaders, and the future for containerized shipping in Washington looks bright. Oil tankers also arrive from Alaska to supply four oil refineries in Anacortes and Ferndale.
While Seattle and Tacoma get most of the shipping attention, Columbia River ports have been doing very well, thank you, especially the deep water ports of Portland, Vancouver, Longview, and Kalama, which do a big business as terminals for wheat, corn, soda ash, logs, and other materials coming down the Columbia River bound for Pacific Rim nations. These same ports import massive amounts of alumina from Australia, limestone from Canada, and cement from China, along with countless other products.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition