Settlement of Lake Crescent

Historic photo of people posing in front of Rosemary cabin
Rosemary Inn is one of only two resort developments remaining on the shores of Lake Crescent, out of 11 originally constructed in the 1920s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited in 1937 during his tour of the peninsula.


Clear waters nestled between heavily timbered mountain ridges rising high above the shoreline, Lake Crescent ought to have been an attractive place for homesteaders. The settlement period of this area, however, lasted only briefly.

Though Euro-American settlers first came to Crescent Bay and Freshwater Bay in the 1880s, it was not until the end of this decade that land claims were established along the Lake Crescent shoreline.

These early residents of the Lake Crescent couldn't be the typical farmers like the homesteaders in other parts of the peninsula. Exhausted with the rugged topography, many original settlers didn't stay long, perhaps finding it difficult to exist on what the poor soil could produce. It was the scenic beauty and abundance of Beardslee trout that early settlers soon recognized as the lake's greatest resources.

Those who stayed took up the business of providing services to visitors who came to fish or retreat from the bustling city life. Even before the turn of the century, the first homestead claimant was providing accommodations for guests. Lake Crescent's recreational era began after less than a decade of homestead settlement.

By 1909, the shores of Lake Crescent were dotted with inns and private cottages. It emerged as a resort area, eclipsing its period of settlement in less than two decades. Lake Crescent continued to be a resort area throughout the 20th century and continues to present day.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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