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Island Road History | Kono Lane

April 16th, 2013 by Tad Sooter

Street of the Week: Kono Lane

Location: Runs east/west off Tani Creek Road near Blakely Harbor

History: When a representative of the Japanese Consulate arrived in Port Blakely to oversee the local mill and its large base of Japanese workers, he was shocked at what he found.

Crammed together in bunkhouses, working 10-hour days with minimum pay and then gambling the night away, most of the employees were not, the consulate reported, “honest workers.”

It was up to mill boss Hanjiro Kono to set things straight. Kono stopped the rampant gambling and freeloading. By the time he was done, many workers had left to be replaced by Japanese farmers and their families. To encourage the new arrivals to put down roots, the mill set aside land for the families to live on rent-free in homes built from donated lumber.

By 1903, the area had hundreds of residents, as well as bathhouses, barbershops, churches, a restaurant and even a hotel owned by none other than mill boss Hanjiro Kono.

This occasional Islander series explores the history of island street names, as compiled by Elinor Ringland and fellow Bainbridge Island Historical Society volunteers.  If you have an island road story to share, email Ringland at elinorjoe@msn.com.

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