Early Explorers Sought Elusive Northwest Passage

The history of the first Native Americans to explore and settle the Islands is faint, yet through archaeological artifacts and regional cultural histories it can be determined that it was at least 6,000 years ago and perhaps as much as 10,000 years ago that human presence is detectible.


The first European exploration of Vashon-Maury Island took place in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver of the British Navy sailed into Puget Sound aboard the Discovery in search of the elusive Northwest Passage.  Vancouver named Vashon Island after his friend Captain (later Admiral) James Vashon. The first American expedition into Puget Sound took place in 1841 when Lieutenant (later Captain) Charles Wilkes sailed into Puget Sound aboard the Porpoise, for the purpose of creating detailed charts of the region.  Wilkes identified Maury Island as a separate Island from Vashon, and named it in honor of one of his expedition’s surveyors, Lt. Williams L. Maury.

Capt. George Vancouver.
Captain Charles WIlkes
Captain James Vashon
Captain George Vancouver
Captain Charles Wilkes
Captain James Vashon
Vashon History: Explorers