McNeil Island Historical Society

a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity

Welcome to Our Island

 

McNeil Island Historical Society (MIHS) promotes preserving the rich history of McNeil Island, WA., through positive use of it's existing structures and wildlife sanctions for the benefit of current and future generations. America's largest island prison from 1875 until it's closure in 2011, McNeil Island held not only convicts but also a vibrant island community starting with famous Oregon Trail pioneer Ezra Meekers' arrival in 1853. Logging, farming, boating, bootlegging and brothels all occurred while the rugged pioneer settlers held sway. The Federal and State prison staff and their families, also enjoyed the mystique and serenity of scarcely populated, highly restricted McNeil, which now houses America's most Unwanted - civilly convicted Sexual offenders who have served out their criminal terms but are unfit to return to society.... All this drama against the breathtaking backdrops of the Olympic Mountains, Mt. Rainier, and the Cascade Range, is too unique and beautiful to belong to only a few. Much better use should be made of the buildings designed by National Register Architects and created by convict crews. The MIHS is about the past and the potential of McNeil Island. Enjoy our site!


Currently this site is under construction.  Updates will be published continuously as the site is developed and the island archives grow.  Please check back again soon for the latest information.


News


  • Don't miss the McNeil Island exhibit at the Washington State History Museum opening January 26, 2019 and running through June.  The exhibit will explore the island prison's 135 year history, and the evolution of incarceration over that time.

    Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA
       Hours: 10am - 5pm Tuesday through Sunday
                   10am - 8pm every third Thursday.


  • Get ready for our book to arrive!  Authored by our own Ann Kane Burkly and Puget Sound journalist Steve W. Dunkelberger, and published as part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series, McNeil Island presents a pictorial history of life on the island for residents and inmates alike, from the time of the original settlers through the era of the territorial, federal, and state prisons.