Founded by Ole Stubb, a Norwegian immigrant in 1875, Poulsbo is often referred to as “Little Norway,” with good reason. Throughout history this portion of land in the North Kitsap County has been used for fishing and trapping by Europeans and Native Americans alike.
The First Norwegian
Ole Stubb came to America with his family, first stopping in South Dakota but persevering onwards to Washington in search of land and water. He came upon Dog Fish Bay, which got its name in the 1860’s because of its large bounty of dogfish. The large Norwegian population took a few years to make their way to Poulsbo, though. After a few years, a fellow Norwegian named Jorgen Eliason took a boat from Seattle to Dog Fish Bay and went looking for Ole.
Jorgen liked what he saw, as did his travel partner Peter Olson, and they decided to stay on as homesteaders. Soon after, families were reunited and more were convinced to come. Various families were homesteading, building businesses and hauling logs. Iver B. Moe, another famous Norwegian in Poulsbo, sold logs to large mills, but wasn’t successful in the end. But they didn’t give up, soon after they invested in the Pacific Coast Codfish Company and ran a steamer for passengers.
Fun Fact: In 1886, Moe wanted to open up a Post Office, named after his original hometown in Norway, Paulsbo. His offer was accepted, but the name was incorrectly spelled and that’s how we ended up with Poulsbo!
The industry in Poulsbo was farming, logging and water transportation. But the Norwegian immigrants were determined to make this city work and soon opened up a wharf for incoming visitors, the Grandview Hotel, and a codfish processing plant. The early 1900’s brought construction to Poulsbo. A second hotel, sawmill, a lumber mill, two more wharves, buggy and wagon repair, etc were opening up. It was booming, and brought another wave of Norwegians with it.
Throughout the years, with the development of schools, and churches, Poulsbo was, due to its Nordic population, largely Lutheran. This is still prominent in the town today.
Current Norwegian Culture
When one is looking for present day Norwegian influence, you don’t have to look far. Head over to the Sons of Norway, or to the Daughters of Norway. It doesn’t stop though, here is a small complied list of Norwegian activities in town.