Captain George Vancouver sailed Discovery in northern Puget Sound in
1792 charting shorelines shaped by the Vashon Glacier approximately 12,000
The Marpole people followed glacial retreat and their culture (early
evidence exists at Cornet Bay on northern Whidbey Island) was replaced
by 1300 a.d. Four groups of Salish shared the islands. In the late
1700's their population peaked at 1500 - 2500 people. They were hunters,
fishers, and farmers. Salish stewardship of Whidbey and Camano Islands'
conifer forest and prairie resources set the agricultural foundation
seized and built upon by white settlers including Isaac Ebey, who
arrived in 1850.
Farmers, like Ebey, introduced potatoes and oats, pigs and cattle.
They replaced the native camas and bracken fern nurtured by the Salish
on the fertile prairies. Ebey's Prairie, on central Whidbey Island,
was designated a National Historic Reserve in 1978 in order to preserve
the rural landscape and way of life
Early animals included
deer, wolves, black bears, quail, ducks, elk, coastal sea otters,
Coupeville, on Penn Cove, was home to many of the Northwest's sea
captains during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Many historic homes still grace the streets of this north Whidbey
Utsalady, on Camano Island, was the site of a lumber
mill and active nineteenth century shipbuilding. Spar stock was
sent to ports all over the world from Cranney's Mill.
The Admiralty Head lighthouse, built in 1860, was the first inside Cape
Fort Casey was originally intended to provide fortification against potential
British intrusion of Puget Sound. Site development was begun in 1897 and
armament arrived in mid 1898. The fort was active during both world wars
although its guns have never been fired in anger.
Deception Pass Bridge, originally envisioned by Captain George Morse
in the 1850s, opened in July 1935 ending islanders' dependence on boats
as the sole source of transportation to and from Whidbey Island.
The U.S. government began purchasing land near the small town of Oak
Harbor (pop. 500) in the late 1930s and developed the Navy base that is
still active today.
Ebey's Landing National Historical
P.O. Box 774
Coupeville, WA 98239
Island County Historical Society
908 N.W. Alexander
Coupeville, WA 98239
South Whidbey Historical Society
312 - 2nd Street
Langley, WA 98260
Whidbey Island Naval
Diary of Frederick