Island Celebrations

p2 15 thumbSince its days as an insular port city, Anacortes has loved a party. When there were no roads to connect early settlers, they convened by boat for balls and midnight suppers. Holidays have long filled the streets of the historic downtown.

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To Market and Table

p2 14 thumbDungeness crab, found in commercial quantities from Alaska to central California, is one of the most popular items on West Coast dinner tables. Anacortes traces its local crabbing traditions to Coast Salish subsistence harvesting.

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Messing Around in Boats

p2 13 thumbFor both work and play, the bays, beaches, and surrounding islands of the Salish Sea are integral to life on Fidalgo Island. Early settlers made their own fun, canoeing and rowing on lakes and bays, swimming in brisk ocean waters, and boating to nearby islands.

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Changing Shorelines

p2 12 thumbWhen Coast Salish tribes made their summer camps along local shores, the land transitioned naturally to the sea—forage fish laid eggs on shady pebble beaches; shellfish burrowed in eelgrass-covered mud flats; wetlands buffered wave action against the shore; and sloughing bluffs nourished nearby beaches.

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Catch of the Day

p2 9 thumbFor almost a century, commercial fishing was a mainstay of the Anacortes economy. In the 1950s, the Puget Sound fishing fleet packed the marina stem to stern, enjoying the city's amenities and its convenient access to island and Alaskan waters.

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Balancing Risk

p2 7 top thumbHarvesting local salmon and shellfish sustained native Coast Salish inhabitants for centuries. They traded these resources to early Anacortes settlers who were more interested in farming than fishing.

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Cap Sante

p2 7 top thumbThe prominent rocky headland across the marina is perhaps the most notable—and enduring—feature of Fidalgo Bay, claiming a special place in local geologic and cultural history.

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Mill Row

p2 4 smokestacks thumbAbundant supplies of local timber gave rise to Anacortes' first industry—wood processing. By the early 1900s, 13 plants lined "Mill Row" along Fidalgo Bay's western shore. Spurred by the Oregon Land Donation Act of 1850, pioneer settlers moved west.

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Information on this Trail Tales website was prepared under funding from the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Public Participation Grant Program. While the information was reviewed for grant consistency and accuracy of project references, this does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the Department.

Learn more about Ecology’s Anacortes Baywide Cleanup

Photo credits: Anacortes History Museum, Washington state Dept. of Ecology, Samish Indian Nation and others, as noted. Illustrations by Linda Feltner.