Fox Island, Washington

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Fox Island is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pierce County, Washington, United States, on an island of the same name in Puget Sound. It is located approximately five miles from Gig Harbor. The island was named Fox by Charles Wilkes during the United States Exploring Expedition, to honor J.L. Fox, an assistant surgeon on the expedition.[4] The population was 2,803 at the 2000 census.



Fox Island is located at 47°14′39″N 122°37′12″W / 47.24417°N 122.62°W / 47.24417; -122.62 (47.244053, -122.619906).[5] There is a dock on the north side of the island. The waters around the island are used for fishing and scuba diving.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 6.4 square miles (16.5 km²), of which, 5.2 square miles (13.5 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.0 km²) of it (18.31%) is water.

Fox Island is separated from the mainland by Hale Passage to the north. To the southwest, Carr Inlet separates Fox Island from McNeil Island.


In 1792, during the Vancouver Expedition, Peter Puget led an exploration party through southern Puget Sound. After an encounter with local Indians ended with Puget ordering a musket fired as warning, the exploration party retreated to Fox Island, where they made camp for the night.[6]

In 1856, during the Puget Sound War, most of the Puyallup and "non-hostile" Nisqually Indians, totaling about 500 people, were removed to Fox Island. John Swan was assigned to supervise the encampment and distribute food provided by the territorial government. On January 5, 1856, Chief Leschi and other "hostile" Indians arrived at Fox Island with a flotilla of canoes. Trusting Swan, they had come to talk about the war and how to resolve it. While the hostile Indians were on Fox Island, Captain Maurice Maloney took the steamship Beaver to the island, hoping to rescue Swan, but forgot to bring landing craft and was unable to send men ashore. Before Maloney could figure out what to do, Swan came to the shore and paddled a canoe to the Beaver. He told Maloney that there had been no violence, urged him to not come ashore, and said he had promised to return to the island, which he did. Maloney returned to Steilacoom and, along with other military officers, took another steamship, the USS Active from Steilacoom to Seattle to get a howitzer (which they failed to acquire), then back to Fox Island, hoping to capture Chief Leschi. But by the time the Active returned, more than 30 hours after Leschi had arrived on Fox Island, the hostile Indians had left.[6]

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