The Lowdown on Indian Island

Posted by Teri

Tiny Indian Island in Eastsound, not to be confused with the Port Townsend island with the same name

It started at breakfast with friends at the Outlook Inn in Eastsound. The tide was low and the sun was shining in Fishing Bay across Main Street. The conversation turned to curious lore of the tiny island in view. Indian Island, as it is known today, was once called “Jap Island” (not just to us old-timers, but also to the US Bureau of Land Management!). Talk about politically incorrect! Before our time it was known as Victory Island. And at some point there were rumors of mining activity there. So what was the real story?

The title examiner in me (past life) began to go to work. A quick visit to harass my favorite title officer, Teri Nigretto, got me up to speed  (her family has been here forever.) Apparently “Jap Island” got its name because a Japanese man use to live there in small cabin.

Teri and I then did an actual title search and found a deed recorded in 1981 for an Official Mining Claim by the Uptown Low Down Mining Company!

Deed recorded in 1981 by the Uptown Low Down Mining Company

None of the names were familiar and we’d never heard of anything precious being found there other than marine life. We concluded this must’ve been a group of good ole boys imbibing in some spirits when they looked out the window and had an idea to stake a claim. Whether they were serious about their endeavor or just having fun remains a mystery, but I did find proof that my breakfast partners weren’t full of hoo-ha!!

This may not answer all my questions about Indian Island, but now I’ve got a new nugget to toss out at the breakfast table. 🙂

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
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3 Responses to The Lowdown on Indian Island

  1. Christine Morgan

    HAHA! I was a little kid when my Dad (Ralph W. Morgan) was a part of this “claim”. It was a big joke. I even used to have a little kid sized T-shirt with the “Uptown Lowdown Mining Company” printed on it. 🙂

  2. I moved to the island about the same time as this was happening. There much discussion about the changing of the maps from Jap Island to Indian Island and these guys decided to try a land grab from the government (as a joke). The names I can make out are Richard “Dick” Chaney. He had a construction business where the bike shop is now. Ralph “Bill” Morgan who was Capt of the Eastsound Fire Station for a while and had an excavation company and the Green Cow with his then wife Kay. Loren Richards was an investment counselor and I think retired mostly. And Russ Hyslop who used to run beach Haven Resort and then had a boat rental shop under where the Madrona is now. I can’t make out the last signature. Hope this helps.
    Max & Jeff Jones

  3. James Spignesi

    I first visited Jap Island at age 13 on September 4, 1970. I know its hard to believe but that little island changed my life. I buried a time capsule somewhere on the backside of the island about 1973. No one ever lived on the island. It was named Jap Island after the small Madrona tree in the front. A woman named Kay Jensen who owned the Outlook Inn until 1070 planted that fir tree you now see in the front of the island. There is a very old picture somewhere showing the island covered in trees.