If you think history is boring, think again. The tales of Fort Casey are anything but dull when told by Seattle Pacific University Professor Emeritus of History Bill Woodward.
Did you know the guns displayed today at Fort Casey are actually from somewhere else? Or because of a new class of battleships that came online, the strategic functionality of the coastal forts was practically obsolete by the time they were completed? You might also be surprised to learn that SPU has now owned Camp Casey longer than the Army.
Interesting facts are just a hint of what’s in store at the Camp Casey Open House on Friday, June 14. Woodward presents historical lectures at noon and 2 p.m. and guided walking tours at Fort Casey State Park gun batteries at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
“The contracts for construction of Fort Casey occurred in the 1890 during the heart of a serious economic depression. Many men were ready to sign onto the project. However, in 1897, the Klondike Gold Rush hit and much of that workforce evaporated,” Woodward said. “Instead of a glut of workers, they couldn’t find any and had to go back to the War Department to ask for support to attract them.”
One of the most intriguing facts is how some of the men who trained at Fort Casey were ultimately a great help to Allied forces in World War I.
“The coast artillery specialists, who already knew how to use the huge guns, were able to quickly slide in and support our troops on the Western Front,” Woodward said. “So, even though the actual approach to homeland defense of the coastal forts may have been obsolete, the skills and training of the soldiers were relevant and applied to the modern, three-dimensional battlefield.”
An expert on Pacific Northwest history, Woodward just co-authored Images of America: The Washington Army National Guard. The book will be available in October. Join one of his tours on June 14 to learn more fascinating history about Camp Casey.