Titlow Lagoon, Titlow Beach Marine Preserve

Titlow Lagoon, Titlow Beach Marine Preserve

by | Feb 16, 2021

Titlow Lagoon is a tidal wetland undergoing restoration at Titlow Beach Park and is part of the Titlow Beach Marine Preserve, about 5.8 miles (9.4 km) south-southeast of Gig Harbor and 5.3 miles (8.5 km) west of downtown Tacoma, Washington. This area was historically used as a seasonal campsite by the Puyallup and Nisqually tribes. In 1871, the lagoon was part of a homestead filed as the William B. Wilton Land Claim. In 1903, A.R Titlow purchased the northern half of the Wilton Claim, about 30 acres (12 ha), and began constructing a beach resort that included the Hotel Hesperidos and a boat dock.

On June 8, 1928, ferry traffic began crossing the Tacoma Narrows to connect Tacoma with Point Fosdick on the Kitsap Peninsula. The car ferry was built by the Skansie Brothers, who were shipbuilders in Gig Harbor, and operated by the Washington Navigation Company under contract with the State of Washington. The ferry operated until the first Narrows Bridge was opened in July 1940, but when that bridge collapsed, the ferry was put back into service and operated until 1950 when the new bridge was completed. Remnants of the old ferry dock are still visible at Titlow Beach. In the 1920s, the Northern Pacific Railway installed a tide gate to control the tidal flow in and out of the lagoon and for many years the lagoon was used as a swimming hole. Development around the lagoon increased and by the 1930s the lagoon was no longer usable for swimming. In 1955, an Olympic-sized swimming pool opened at Titlow Park adjacent to the lagoon and for over 50 years the pool served the community. In 2005, a bond measure was passed to replace the pool, but in 2011 the pool was shut and in 2013 it was removed. Today, it’s a large lawn next to the lagoon.

The Titlow Shoreline and Estuary Restoration Project is now restoring Titlow Lagoon and Titlow Beach as a functional fish habitat, and included as one of 110 officially designated marine protected areas in Puget Sound. Historically, the lagoon was a relatively large saltmarsh surrounded by forested wetlands. Currently, the outlet to the lagoon is impounded by a pipe culvert beneath the railroad grade, and a tide gate still controls lagoon circulation. The brackish northern portion of the lagoon was separated from the main tidal inlet by a dike. Fill and riprap were added to intertidal areas around the southern and eastern sides of the lagoon, so the total acreage has been reduced from its historic size. The project will eventually restore natural estuarine circulation and nearshore sediment transport processes at Titlow Lagoon to increase the quantity and quality of fish habitat. These efforts are expected to benefit salmon, forage fish, and seabirds. Read more here and here. Explore more of Titlow Lagoon here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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