The Brick Era, 1900-1932.
"The construction of the Harper Brick Factory in 1900 dramatically changed the local sights, sounds, and smells, adding smokestacks and whistles as well as a different type of vehicle traffic. The innovative tug, ATLAS, became a familiar sight, hauling mostly bricks to and from Seattle but also serving the Colby Lumber Company."
Established by Frederick Crane Harper and partners, the brick factory was located to the west of the creek estuary that lies between Harper and Southworth, where a small baseball field and park are today. At the height of production, 50-60 men worked at the plant, producing more than a million bricks annually. The facility was large and complex, and a model of brick making technology for that era. The facility included kilns, warehouses, a bunkhouse, cookhouse, and a small rail tram. A dock and specialized barges were constructed, too. As motor vehicles began to appear, a drawbridge was constructed across the mouth of the estuary to facilitate the movement of the ATLAS and her barges.
AK provided the enhanced view (below) of the current landscape around his house and the nearby estuary, including Harper Hill Road, Southworth Road, the Boat Ramp, and the surrounding neighborhood at the point. The main current road is along the bottom of the photograph, with dotted lines showing the location of the drawbridge. The Port Orchard Tile and Brick Factory was located in the lower righthand corner, where a baseball field is located today.
Beach combing on Harper Beach
With much of the above history explored, an excursion on Harper beach becomes a step back into the early days of the Puget Sound. I was exploring the beach for the first time recently with the focus on beach glass and what quality or grade of glass I might find. I parked over on the Harper boat ramp and walked around the inlet to begin a brief search of the area.
While exploring the beach one day a local Harper resident walked up to me while I was beach combing below his property and below the high tide zone. Sal said that he had purchased the old Harper home that was built in 1901 just after the opening of the new brick factory in 1900. The home seemed somewhat small for a factory owner but it must have been very comfortable. This home is up hill from the road and located only a few hundreds yards north of the old brick factory location.
(See the Sea Glass page for information about how to classify and grade Sea Glass.)
3500 SE Southworth Drive, Port Orchard. From Highway 16, take Sedgwick Exit; follow signs to the Southworth Ferry; turn left onto Southworth Drive; drive approx. 2 miles; park entrance will be on the left.