On Becoming a Steamboat Island Road Scholar


This is not a historic photo from Steamboat Peninsula.

Several speakers at the Griffin Association’s annual meeting on January 31, 1997, recalled early days when poor road conditions existed in the Griffin area. Our roads were narrow, winding, pot holed, and dusty. Travel was hard. Families made infrequent trips into Olympia for supplies.

Steamboat Island Road was once known as Hunter Point Road. Bill Durward recalled that in 1926 or 1927, a major revision of Hunter Point Road relocated the road to the approximate location of the current Steamboat Island Road. Our primary thoroughfare has been straightened, widened, and leveled since then.

Anyone wanting to experience the old winding route can walk or drive several hundred yards up Steamboat Loop Road, once part of the old Hunter Point Road and early route of Steamboat Island Road. Steamboat Loop Road runs northward immediately west of the current route of Steamboat Island Road, starting just north of the main fire station and ending just south of the 41st Avenue and Steamboat Island Road intersection.

Bill Durward described the old route of Hunter Point Road prior to its major relocation 1926 or 1927, that zigged and zagged from the base of the peninsula out to Hunter Point. You can still drive most of the old route.

The southern portion of Old Hunter Point Road basically followed the current route of Old Steamboat Island Road past the present site of Griffin School, prior to its revision for the Highway 101 overpass, northward along Steamboat Loop Road past the fire hall, and continued out to Gravelly Beach Road. Then old Hunter Point Road followed Gravelly Beach Road for several miles, down the steep hill that was called Frederick’s Hill or Whitaker Hill, turned sharply to the left at the bottom of the hill and continued northward for several hundred yards, past the first turn off to Gravelly Beach Loop, and up a shorter hill to the point where Gravelly Beach Road bends eastward and meets Gravelly Beach Loop again.

At that point, old Hunter Point Road left the existing roadway and ran northward. The now long abandoned second school site of the Frye Cove School District is located several hundred feet north of the point where old Hunter Point Road left the existing Gravelly Beach Road. After proceeding northward from the existing Gravelly Beach Road, the old Hunter Point Road met 69th Avenue and followed 69th Avenue eastward to Olympic Road. Then old Hunter Point Road followed Olympic Road northeasterly joining the current Steamboat Island Road and followed Steamboat Island Road to 79th Avenue. From this point old Hunter Point Road ran due northward out Howe Street to 81st Avenue. Then old Hunter Point Road turned eastward and traveled down 81st Avenue, passed the fire station to Uruquart Road. Old Hunter Point Road continued northward out Uruquart Road to its junction with Steamboat Island Road and followed Steamboat Island Road to the existing Hunter Point Road. Finally, old Hunter Point Road followed the existing Hunter Point road to its end.

Bill Durward recalls a low point on a portion of old Hunter Point Road, on Steamboat Island Road between the Grange Hall and Steamboat Annies’ drive in, was a mud hole every Spring when the frost left and rains came. Cars with 36 inch wheels would get stuck there. This is the approximate location of a fault line that could prove problematic if an earthquake were to occur in our area.

– from original text by Steve Lundin, published in the May 1997 issue of the Griffin Neighborhood Association’s “Neighbors” newsletter. This is part of a series of articles reprinted from earlier publications in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State. The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling. It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at http://dgss.wsu.edu/ or from WSU Extension at www.pubs.wsu.edu .


Posted in 25th Anniversary of the GNA, local history, Steve Lundin.