Territorial Timeline

While searching for the Northwest Passage, Captain George Vancouver explores Puget Sound and names the bordering land New Georgia

On May 19, 1792, British Captain George Vancouver anchored off the present site of the city of Seattle. He sent Lieutenant Peter Puget south to explore what is now Puget Sound. On June 4, 1792 the expedition reached a point where the city of Everett now stands and Vancouver claimed the entire region for England, naming it New Georgia, after King George III.

During the late 1780s, the confrontation between England and Spain over their claims to the Pacific Northwest almost led to war between these two powerful nations. The issue was settled with the Nootka Sound Treaty of 1790 which decided the issue in favor of England. The English sent Captain George Vancouver to Nootka Sound to accept the transfer of the Spanish fort and settlement. Vancouver was also instructed to chart the area and search for the Northwest Passage.

With two ships, the sloop-of-war and the armed tender , Vancouver left England in April 1791. After wintering in the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, they reached the Oregon coast on April 17, 1792. On April 27 they passed by the mouth of the Columbia River but fog obscured the opening. The next morning Vancouver passed Point Grenville on the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula, the first name given by Vancouver to a place in what is now Washington.

While off Cape Flattery on the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula, Vancouver met Captain Robert Gray in the American ship . Gray reported he thought a great river was to the south, which he was going to explore. Vancouver expressed his doubts and continued sailing north. On the morning of April 30, 1792, Joseph Baker, a young officer under Vancouver’s command, called the captain's attention to a beautiful snow-capped mountain to the northeast. Vancouver named it Mt. Baker after the young man. Vancouver made his temporary headquarters in a beautiful harbor with a protecting island at its mouth which he named Port Discovery (after his ship) and Protection Island. On May 8, Vancouver sighted another great mountain which he named for his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. In the course of his explorations, Vancouver named many geographical features in what is now Washington, many of which are still in use today.

On May 19, 1792, Vancouver anchored off the site of the present city of Seattle. Most of the mapping and exploring was done by officers in small boats. Lieutenant Peter Puget led an expedition into southward waters and Vancouver named that area Puget's Sound. On June 4, 1792 the expedition reached the site of present day Everett. Vancouver claimed the entire region for England, naming it New Georgia after King George III. The expedition then sailed north - discovering, mapping, and naming Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, Cypress Island, Birch Bay, Point Roberts, and many other places. He finally arrived in Nootka Sound on August 28, 1792, where he accepted the surrender of that port and settlement from the Spanish.