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Captain George Vancouver sailed Discovery in northern Puget Sound in 1792 charting shorelines shaped by the Vashon Glacier approximately 12,000 years before.

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, and beavers


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 town.

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 Flattery.

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 Reserve
P.O. Box 774
Coupeville, WA 98239

Island County Historical Society Museum
908 N.W. Alexander
Coupeville, WA 98239

South Whidbey Historical Society
312 - 2nd Street
Langley, WA 98260

Other Links

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station

Diary of Frederick Charles Adams



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