Whidbey Island is located where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets Puget Sound north of Seattle in Island County, Wa. Whidbey Island is 45 miles long and is the longest island in the contiguous 48 states. (The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Long Island, New York is a peninsula.) Whidbey Island is located only 27 miles north of Seattle, via the Mukilteo ferry and is also accessible via Deception Pass bridge on the north end of the island. Oak Harbor is Whidbey Island’s largest city and the home of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Whidbey Island History
Joseph Whidbey, Master of H.M.S. Discovery under the command of Captain Vancouver, discovered Deception Pass in 1792. In so doing he proved that Whidbey Island, thought by the early Spanish explorers to be part of the mainland, was in reality an island.
The first contact between the Island Indians & white men occurred when Whidbey’s party landed in Penn’s Cove. In 1848, Thomas Glasgow took up a prairie claim near Coupeville. He planted crops but soon the Skagit Indians became hostile and Glasgow abandoned the area. Other families eventually arrived and by 1856, there were seven blockhouses built for the protection of the settlers against the Haidah (a tribe from the North) attacks.
Isaac Ebey became the leader of those early Pioneers. He was a man prominent in public service and one to whom others turned in time of trouble. However, he was not a man to stand for an affront from the Indians. In his diary of August 19, 1852, he wrote, “Pulled in Indian’s wool and kicked another one’s bottom today for being impudent and saucy to Rebecca when I was absent.”
Thomas Coupe, a sea captain, took up a claim in 1852 on Penn’s Cove and it was on this property that the town of Coupeville grew. Coupeville is one of the oldest towns in the state and is now the Island County Seat. Coupe has the distinction of being the only man ever to sail a full rigged ship through Deception Pass.
In 1847, Ebey was killed by the Haidah Indians. A Haidah Chief at Port Gamble had been killed, and Ebey, because he was the recognized leader of the white settlement, was beheaded in retaliation.
After World War I the Island prospered. Farms were producing grain; cattle were being raised; dairy products, poultry and berries were items of trade. A fine bridge was built across Deception Pass, and a regularly scheduled ferry service from Mukilteo to Columbia Beach took the place of the old up-island ferry from Everett.
The Charm of Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island has all the charm of the country yet all the facilities of the city. From most places on the Island, majestic views of the Cascade or the Olympic Mountains can be seen. It is a place of forests, farms, and rail fences; of windswept bluffs and sandy beaches covered with driftwood- a place to find relaxation and contentment with its beauty. Whidbey is a way of life!
The Naval Presence
With the advent of World War II and the introduction to the airplane as a strategic weapon, the military began looking for new defense sites. In 1937, plans were made to locate a torpedo rearming and seaplane base on Whidbey Island. Approximately $3 million was appropriated by Congress in 1941 to build the air station, and in September 1942, it was commissioned. Placed on reduced operating status at the end of the war until December 1949, plans were then made for the base to be the multi-type, all-weather Navy field that it presently is. Since then, it has dominated the Island County economy.
As the Navy’s premier air station in the Pacific Northwest and winner of the Commander-in Chief’s Installation Excellence Award for 2005, NAS Whidbey Island will continue to support the Navy’s mission. The Naval Air Station is also home of the 13th Naval District Reserve, which takes care of all the Naval and Marine reservists from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
Deception Pass Bridge
The Deception Pass Bridge, connecting Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island, is a scenic attraction that draws visitors from around the world. Deception Pass Park is Washington’s “favorite state park” and is just one of seven state parks on Whidbey Island. Whidbey Island has numerous parks and campgrounds for those wishing to enjoy the outdoors.
For More Local Whidbey Island information or questions, please contact us at Coldwell Banker Koetje Real Estate at 360-675-5915 or submit the form below.