Key Peninsula Historical Society & Museum

Wauna

wauna-post-office-1982

Wauna store and post office, circa 1982. The building was demolished in 2006. Courtesy the PMCC collection)

wauna mapThe town of Wauna (map) is located at the west end of the sandspit that dominates the entrance to Burley Lagoon at the head of Henderson Bay. It is where the Key Peninsula begins.

Wauna was platted as the Town of Springfield in 1889. A post office was established in 1890, Edwin Crabbe, postmaster. 

When the first bridge between the spit and Purdy was built in 1892, Springfield became the gateway to the remote Key Peninsula. The bridge is the only direct link between the peninsula and the rest of Pierce County to this day.

The name of the post office was changed in 1906 with encouragement from the postal authorities to avoid confusion with other towns by the same name. Mary F. White, postmaster since 1901 and who also operated the general store with her husband William, selected the name Wauna. A Central Washington Native word meaning “mighty river” that referred to the Columbia River, it had been popularized as the name of a tribe in The Bridge of the Gods: A Romance of Indian Oregon, a best-selling novel published in 1890.

 

Advertisement for Springfield (the future Wauna) and Allyn in Mason County, platted in 1889. Tacoma Daily News, Oct. 28, 1889

The name Springfield continued to be used alongside the new name for the post office for several years.

Spingfield and the Wauna post office on the 1915 Kroll Atlas of Pierce County. The letter S indicates the location of the school, about halfway up today’s Goldman Drive NW.

A long wharf at the Springfield/Wauna general store (the W. E. White store, later Goldman store), which also housed the post office, accommodated the steamers of the Mosquito fleet carrying passengers, goods and the mail to and from the isolated community.

The White store and post office ca. 1906.

 

Wauna school ca. 1911. The school was located about halfway up the hill along today’s Goldman Drive NW.

 

Postcard depicting waterfront residences in Wauna ca. 1912. Private collection.

 

The Wauna spit looking east toward Purdy ca. 1927. The Goldman store and post office are on the right.

 

“Discover Key Peninsula” sign at the entrance to Wauna. Joseph Pentheroudakis, 2024.

In 1908 the Whites’ daughter Mary Jane married John Goldman, and in 1912 became postmaster. The young couple also took over the store and the family ran the store and served as postmasters until 1974.

The building was placed on Pierce County’s Register of Historic Places in 1990, when the post office moved to a new building at Lake Kathryn Village. Despite efforts to save it, however, the aging structure was removed from the county’s register and demolished in 2006. 

In 1989 the Key Peninsula Business Association erected a sign near the historic Wauna post office, inviting visitors to “discover Key Peninsula.” The sign still remains, welcoming visitors at the entrypoint to the Key Peninsula.

 

 

 

The site of the Goldman store and post office, demolished in 2006. Remains of the wharf are still visible. Joseph Pentheroudakis 2024.

Revised April 2024
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