Below are some of the historical place names of Whidbey Island. Click on the letter of the alphabet to expand.
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- Admiralty Bay
Admiralty Bay is on the west shore of Whidbey Island on Admiralty Inlet in west central Island County. The name was borrowed from Admiralty Inlet. This area was the scene of many early land speculations. One proposal involved a railroad terminus on the north shore of the bay, with trains to be ferried to the mainland and then taken overland to Sedro-Woolley.
- Admiralty Head
This headland projects into Admiralty Inlet at Fort Casey on the west coast of Whidbey Island in Island County. It was named after Admiralty Inlet. An earlier name was Keelog’s Point or Keelog Point for Dr. J. C. Keelog, who owned a Donation Land Claim. In 1841, Cmdr. Charles Wilkes called it Red Bluff from a reddish tinge on the seaward side of the low cliffs above the point.
- Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet is the waterway connecting the Strait of Juande Fuca with Puget Sound. The name was bestowed on Saturday,June 2, 1792, by Captain George Vancouver, the discoverer, in honor of the Board of Admiralty, which supervises the work of the RoyalNavy of Great Britain.
The Spaniards were first to see the waterway. Quimper saw its entrance in 1790 and Eliza examined it more carefully in 1791. He did not explore it because the Indians said canoes would be necessary to reach its farthest limits.
These Spaniards gave the entrance the name Boca de Caamano. As their maps were not published, Vancouver had no way of knowing that his name of Admiralty Inlet was not the first one given. The Wilkes Expedition (Volume IV., page 479) makes use of the name Admiralty Sound, but in present usage the name Puget Sound is encroaching on the other.
On the original chart of Vancouver, Admiralty Inlet extended to where the city of Tacoma is now located. On the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Chart, 6450, dated February, 1905, Admiralty Inlet ends and Puget Sound begins at the lower end of Whidbey Island. [Edmond S. Meany. Origin of Washington Geographic Names. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1923,, p. 1-2].
- Alexander’s Blockhouse
Alexanders Blockhouse was a two storied log structure built in response to the Indian War of 1855-56 on Whidbey Island by John Alexander, an early settler. It was later moved to the city of Coupeville where it is preserved.
When the settlers along Penn Cove decided that their safety required a blockhouse, they helped Alexander build one. As soon as they completed their double story fort of tightly fitted logs, they then surrounded it with a ten foot high double stockade.
The second floor of the blockhouse was high enough to see over the stockade. The walls were notched out so that if necessary riflemen could fire at any possible attackers. Broken glass and metal fragments were imbedded in the top of the stockade as added deterents to stockade climbing. (Herbert Hart, Pioneer Forts of the West. p. 88.)
- Ariels Point
The United States Exploring Expedition of 1841 named the present Double Bluffs on the south shore of Whidbey Island Ariels Point for a ship that was part of Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet on Lake Erie during the War of 1812. The name Double Bluff came from a huge earth slide which caused the U.S. Coast Survey to give it that name in 1855.
Austin is a community on Mutiny Bay on the southwest side of Whidbey Island two miles south of Freeland. A post office was established on April 27, 1901 and operated until January 31, 1940. The place was named for Austin F. Marshall, son of Thomas H. Marshall the first post master. (Ramsey, Island County, p. 25).
A scattered settlement and school district on southern Whidbey Island is two miles north of Useless Bay in southeast Island County. The name is descriptive, as it overlooks Useless Bay. (Meany, p. 15).
- Ben Ure Island
Ben Ure Island is a small twelve acre island in Deception Pass between Whidbey and Fidalgo islands in northern Island County. It has 2,500 ft. of shoreland. The island, like many places in the area, was named for a pioneer settler. It also has been recorded as Ure’s Island, Ben Ure’s Island, Ben Muir Island, and Big Tenif Island. (USBGN)
- Blowers Bluff
Blowers Bluff is on the eastern shore of Whidbey Island facing Saratoga Passage directly south of Oak Harbor in east central Island County. The first name was Ford’s Point, for an early family of settlers. When the Fords moved, the name was changed to that of another family in the vicinity.
- Bottomless Lake
Bottomless Lake is a five acre lake on Whidbey Island three and a half miles south of Columbia Beach in southern Island County. Soundings have shown the lake to be very deep.
- Bush Point
A wooded, west shore point projecting a half mile beyond the general shoreline of Whidbey Island, north of Mutiny Bay and three miles east of Freeland, Island County. In 1841, it was named Point Leavett by Cmdr. Charles Wilkes for a member of his crew. In 1855, it was changed by U.S. Coast Survey for the point’s heavy growth of trees and bushes.
- Camano Island
This long, narrow island directly east of Whidbey Island, Island County is bounded on the north by Skagit Bay, on the east by Port Susan, on the south by Possession Sound, and on the west by Saratoga Passage at its northeast tip. It is separated from the mainland of Snohomish County by Davis Slough, which is dry at low tides. Miles of shallow tideland adjoin the island in this vicinity.
Clinton is a community near the southeast point of Whidbey Island, directly north of Columbia Beach on Possession Sound in southern Island County. It was named for Clinton County, Iowa, by Edward C. Hinman who came from Iowa in 1883 and filed a timber claim. He built a hotel and a steamer landing, supplying steam ships with wood and water. A post office was established in the 1880s two miles from Clinton and was called Phinney for a Seattle land promoter. In the 1890s, it was moved to Clinton and took the name of Clinton.
- Columbia Beach
Columbia Beach is on Whidbey Island near the southeast tip of the island on Possession Sound five miles north of Possession Point in south Island County. The name is reported to have been chosen by early settlers in the area, for an early nickname of the United States, Columbia, the gem of the ocean.
Cornet is a settlement on the shore of Cornet Bay on the south side of Deception Pass at the north end of Whidbey Island in Island County. It was named for John Cornet, who settled there with his Indian wife in the early 1860s. A post office operated at Cornet between 1910 and 1917.
- Cornet Bay
Cornet Bay is a sheltered inlet on the south shore of Deception Pass on Whidbey Island in northern Island County. Ben Ures Island is in this bay.
- Cornet Bay
Cornet Bay is a sheltered inlet on the south shore of Deception Pass on Whidbey Island in northern Island County. Ben Ures Island is in this bay.
The oldest town on Whidbey Island is on south shore of Penn Cove in west central island County. It was founded by Capt. Thomas Coupe and his wife Maria in 1852 who took a Donation Land Claim on the site. In early days the settlement was largely by retired seafaring men. It was named for the founder. The Indian name was P’t-sa-tl-y, meaning Snake Basket.
Coveland is a community at the west end of Penn Cove on Whidbey Island in west central Island County. The place was founded in 1850 and was the commercial center of the island by 1854. Its name was borrowed from Penn Cove. In the 1850s, it was called Barstow’s Point, for Capt. B. P. Barstow who operated a store and owned a nearby Donation Land Claim.
- Cranberry Lake
A kidney-shaped lake on northwest corner of Whidbey Island directly south of the west entrance to Deception Pass in Deception Pass State Park of north Island County covers 128 acres. It was named for wild cranberries that grew along the marshy borders of the lake. Another Cranberry Lake is on Camano Island.
- Crescent Harbor
Crescent Harbor is a large crescent-shaped harbor on south shore of Whidbey Island’s north lobe in Island County. It is bordered by portions of a U.S. Naval Air Station. It was named by Dr. Richard H. Lansdale in 1851 and is quite descriptive. In 1841, the Wilkes Expedition named it Duncan’s Bay for a naval officer who served on the Saratoga during the War of 1812. The Indian name was Stole-sun. (Meany, p. 61).
- Crocketts Lake
Crocketts Lake is ten acres in size on the west side of Whidbey Island, directly north of Admiralty Bay in west central Island County. Originally, it was 500 acres, parallel to the shore of Admiralty Bay, and separated from it by a narrow sand spit. Later is was drained to 250 acres, of which only ten is actually lake. In the 1850s it was named for S. B. and W. Crockett, the first settlers who took Donation Land Claims directly north of the lake.
- Cultus Bay
Cultus Bay is at the southern end of Whidbey Island between Scatchet Head and Possession Point in southern Island County. It is a shallow bay, flooded only at high tides. It was named by George Davidson of U.S. Coast Survey. He found the bay to be of no value for navigation becoming mud flats at low tide. A local name, no longer in use, was Bailey’s Bay. (Smith, A.J. p. 4).
- Deception Island
This small island at the west entrance to Deception Pass, a half mile southwest of Reservation Bay in northwest Skagit County was named for Deception Pass by U.S. Coast Survey. In 1841, Cmdr. Charles Wilkes had named it Ketslum Island for a crew member, but his name did not persist.
- Deception Pass
Deception Pass is a narrow, tidal passage between Fidalgo Island on the north and Whidbey Island on the south in Skagit and Island counties. It is subject to strong tides and perilous to inexperienced navigators. In 1790, this feature was named Boca de Flon by Manuel Quimper. The same name was charted by Juan Francisco de Eliza. In 1792, Capt. George Vancouver named it Port Gardner, not knowing that the channel was open at the west end. When Joseph Whidbey of his command found the western outlet, Vancouver renamed it Deception Passage, because he had been deceived as to its nature. In 1841, Cmdr. Charles Wilkes used Vancouver’s name on his charts. The name has since been shortened to its present form.
- Deception Pass State Park
A 1,746-acre saltwater park on both shores of Deception Pass is at the south end of Fidalgo Island and the north end of Whidbey Island in Skagit and Island counties. It is one of the most popular of Washington’s state parks, offering camping, fishing, and swimming. It was named for Deception Pass which it borders.
- Deer Lagoon
Deer Lagoon is a shallow, saltwater inlet at the head of Useless Bay near the south end of Whidbey Island in south Island County. It is full of small, marshy islands and it was named in 1856 by the U.S. Coast Survey for the prevalence of deer in the vicinity.
- Deer Lake
Deer Lake is an 82-acre lake in a populated area on the south end of Whidbey Island a mile and a quarter west of Clinton in Island County. The name was probably descriptive when given in pioneer days, as nearly all Puget Sound islands had deer populations.
- Dog Fish Bay
Dog Fish Bay is a cove on the western side of Holmes Harbor two and a half miles north of Freeland on Whidbey Island in Island County.
- Double Bluff
These two bluffs, one above the other, elevations about 100 ft., are between Mutiny Bay and Useless Bay on the southwest shore of Whidbey Island in south Island County. An immense slide of the glacial clay created them. In 1855, the name was given by George Davidson of U.S. Coast Survey. In 1841, Cmdr. Charles Wilkes had named the bluff Ariels Point, for a vessel in Commodore Oliver H.Perry’s fleet on Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Another name, whose origin is obscure, was Volcano Point.
- East Point
East Point is on the southeast shore on Whidbey Island on Saratoga Passage near the entrance to Holmes Harbor four miles east of Greenbank in Island County. In 1841, it was named for its location on Whidbey Island, by Cmdr. Charles Wilkes.
Isaac Neff Ebey and his family arrived on Puget Sound and settled on the west shore of Whidbey Island in the 1850s. He was a prominent member of the Oregon and Washington Territorial Legislatures, was a public official, and served in the Indian War of 1855-56. He was murdered by Northern Indians because he was the most prominent American they could find for revenging an earlier insult to their tribe.
- Ebey’s Landing
Ebey’s Landing is on the west shore of Whidbey Island facing Admiralty Inlet three miles northwest of Admiralty Head in northern Island County. It was named for Col. Isaac N. Ebey. It is now a National Historic Site.
- Ebey’s Prairie
This prairie is on the west shore of Whidbey Island a mile southwest of Coupeville in northern Island County. The name is for the Isaac N. Ebey family.
- Fidalgo Island
Fidalgo Island is directly north of Whidbey Island, from Deception Pass on the south to Guemes Channel on the north, and eastward across Similik Bay to Swinomish Channel in southwest Skagit County. In 1791, Lieut. Juan Francisco de Eliza named the island Isla de Fidalgo for Lieut. Salvador Fidalgo of the Spanish Navy. In 1841, Cmdr. Charles Wilkes changed the name to Perry’s Island, for Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. Capt. Henry Kellett restored the Spanish name on British admiralty charts in 1847 for he preferred to remind the world of the Spanish explorers rather than American naval heroes.
- Forbes Point
This point is in Saratoga Passage directly east of Maylor Point between Oak Harbor and Crescent Harbor on Whidbey Island in northern Island County. It occupies part of the Donation Land Claim of Samuel Maylor. This name appears on the 1792 charts of Capt. George Vancouver, with no reference to the name source.
- Fort Casey
Fort Casey was a coastal defense fort on the western side Whidbey Island at Admiralty Head directly west of Admiralty Bay in western Island County. In 1897, when established, it had ten batteries of coast artillery and was inactivated in 1950. It is now a Washington State Park and has with two restored guns. It was named by army officials for Brig. Gen. Thomas Lincoln Casey, once Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army whose father Silas Casey once commanded Fort Steilacoom.
- Fort Ebey
This Fort Ebey is a World War Two coastal defense fort north of Fort Casey on the western side of Whidbey Island in Island County. It is now a state park.
Freeland is a town on the south shore of Holmes Harbor on Whidbey Island in southern Island County. The name is for the Free Land Association, a cooperative and somewhat socialistic organization which founded the town in 1900. The site had been platted previously by real estate promoters as St. Louis, but no town resulted. At one brief period the place was called Newell, which was a post office name only. (Ramsey, Island County, p. 25).
Glendale is a community on the southeast tip of Whidbey Island two and a half miles north of Possession Point in southern Island County. It was named by Mrs. E. M. Peck, in 1907 who felt that the name expressed the beauty of the locality. (Meany, p. 97).
Greenbank is on the east shore of Whidbey Island at the west entrance to Holmes Harbor in southern Island County. The name was chosen in 1906 by Calvin Phillips of Seattle for his boyhood home in Delaware. (Meany, p. 103).
- Hackney Island
Hackney Island is at the east entrance to Holmes Harbor in southern Whidbey Island and a quarter mile northwest of Rocky Point to which it is connected at low tides in south central Island County. The name source is unclear, but evidently was for an early trader in the area. A name for the island used by sports fishermen is Baby Island.
- Hastie Lake
Hastie Lake varies in size from twenty to sixty-five acres. It is a half mile south of Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island in central Island County. The lake was part of the Thomas and Margaret Hastie Donation Land Claim of 640 acres.
- Holmes Harbor
Holmes Harbor is a branch of Saratoga Passage extending south into Whidbey Island for six miles in southern Island County. It was named for Silas Holmes, assistant surgeon of the Wilkes Expedition in 1841.
- Hoypus Point
Hoypus Point is on the northeast shore of Whidbey Island at the east entrance to Deception Pass in northern Island County. Cmdr. Charles Wilkes named the feature Hoipus Point in 1841 with no explanation of the source. Over the years, the “y” in the present name has been substituted for the “i” which Wilkes used.
- Indian Point
A southwest point of Whidbey Island directly south of Maxwelton near the east entrance to Useless Bay in south Island County is named Indian Point. It was named by Cmdr. Charles Wilkes in 1841. At that time when the south end of Whidbey Island had several Indian villages because of the abundant seafood. A local name for the point is Indian Head.
- Island County
This county in western Washington is bounded on the north by Deception Pass; on the east by Skagit Bay, Port Susan, and Possession Sound; on the south by Possession Sound and Admiralty Inlet; and on the west by Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It consists entirely of islands. The largest are Whidbey and Camano islands; Smith and Minor islands to the west are small; and many very small islands are in the Deception Pass area, including Deception Island. The county was created from a portion of King County on January 6, 1853, by the Oregon Territorial Legislature. The name is for the islands that make up the entire county.
- Island Post Office
The post office at Useless Bay on the southwest end of Whidbey Island was called Useless when established in 1883. Since such a name was thought inappropriate as a designation agitation in 1893 got the name changed to Island. The place is nine miles northwest of Clinton and the post office was closed in 1905. (Ramsey, Island County, p. 24).
- Joe Brown Spit
Joseph F. Brown was an early settler on the southeast shore of Whidbey Island in Island County. A long low spit named Sandy Point by the United States Exploring Expedition of 1841 was later named for him. It has been called Brown’s Point, and Joe Brown’s Spit.
- Kalamut Island
Kalamut Island, almost an island at high tides, is a peninsula separating Oak Harbor and Crescent Harbor on the east shore of Whidbey Island in Island County. It is now part of the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. In 1841, it was named by Cmdr. Wilkes, who believed it to be separated from Whidbey Island. The name is a modification of the Indian word Cal-a-met, meaning a stone or rocky ground.
- Keelog Point
Dr. J. C. Keelog came to Whidbey Island in the early 1850s and filed for a Donation Land Claim on what is now Fort Casey State Park. The point of land was named for him but it is now known as Admiralty Head.
Keystone is a ferry terminal on the north shore of Admiralty Bay at the east end of Crocketts Lake in Island County. Fort Casey State Park is on the bluff above Keystone. The park, with its gun emplacements, fields, and beaches has been rehabilitated by Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission as one of Whidbey Island’s most popular attractions. The present name for the terminal, without particular significance, was chosen when the boom town of New Chicago faded away in the 1893 panic. That town, on the site of Keystone, was to have been the western terminus of Chicago & Skagit Valley Railroad, with an eastern terminus at Sedro Wooley.
- Kultus (Cultus) Harbor
Kultus Harbor is on the southwest side of Whidbey Island in Island County. The name of the place is related to the Chinook jargon word for “useless.” The harbor is shallow at high tide and a mud flat at low tide. It is more widely known as Cultus Bay.
- Lagoon Point
Lagoon Point is the most prominent point of land on the west side of Whidbey Island in Island County between Admiralty Head and Bush Point facing Admiralty Inlet. The point is at the north end of a small lagoon off the inlet.
Langley is a community on the southeast shore of Whidbey Island, on Saratoga Passage in south Island County. It was named for Judge J. W. Langley of Seattle, a member of a company which platted the townsite in 1890. (Cardle, p. 46).
- Lone Lake
A 92-acre lake, roughly heart-shaped, is on Whidbey Island two and a half miles southwest of Langley in south central Island County. The locally-chosen name seems inappropriate as there are other lakes in the vicinity, one within a mile.
- Long Point
Long Point is on the east shore of Whidbey Island near the south entrance to Penn Cove a mile and a half east of Coupeville in west central Island County. The descriptive name was a local choice. The Indian name was Bla-satts. Another name, Snakelum, is used by some Whidbey Island residents.
Lovejoy Point is on the east shore of Whidbey Island near the south entrance to Penn Cove in western Island County. The name is for a sea captain who settled there in early years. The Indian name was Duck-a-sats. Another name is Lovejoy’s Point.
- Mac’s Cove
A small cove on the northwest tip of Whidbey Island on Deception Pass directly west of Deception Pass bridge in north Island County was named Mac’s Cove for A. O. McCormick of Seattle. Mr. McCormick used the cove as a point of departure on over forty-five annual trips by rowboat through the San Juan Islands.
- Maple Cove
Maple Cove is on the east shore of Whidbey Island at the eastern end of Saratoga Passage directly southeast of Langley in southern Island County. The name is for many large maples that once grew along the shore, although the cove itself is very indistinct.
Maxwelton is a community near the southwest tip of Whidbey Island at the south entrance to Useless Bay in southern Island County. The place was named by two Scottish residents, the McKee brothers, for the bonnie bra’es of Maxwellton. Either the McKees or the cartographers did not know how to spell the Scottish name.
- Maylor Point
Maylor Point is at the east entrance to Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island on the U.S. Naval Air Station in northern Island County. It was named for Samuel Maylor, owner of a Donation Land Claim on the point. Samuel and his brother Alfred were Irishmen who arrived on Whidbey Island in 1851 and both had land claims.
- Minor Island
Minor Island is a small, low island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, near Smith Island seven miles west of Whidbey Island in western Island County. At low tide the island is connected with Smith Island by a rocky ridge. It was named by U.S. Coast Survey in 1854. The name chosen was for the minor value and appearance of the islet. In 1791, Lieut. Francisco de Eliza called it together with Smith Island, Islas de Bonilla.
- Monroe Landing
Monroe Landing is on a beach on the north shore of Penn Cove, directly opposite Coupeville on the east side of Whidbey Island in central Island County. It was named for A. W. Monroe, who owned land and built a substantial dock which no longer exists. On modern maps the place is shown as Monroe.
- Mutiny Bay
Mutiny Bay is on the southwest shore of Whidbey Island, between Bush Point and Double Bluff, in southern Island County. In 1855, the bay was named by U.S. Coast Survey for a number of British sailors who deserted their ship and stayed to become settlers. Another story recounts a different name source is that of a mutiny by the Indian crew of a trading vessel. They conspired with local Indians to kill the white owner and mate, and to steal the cargo, which consisted largely of whiskey. According to this story, they were successful, ship was ransacked and abandoned.
- New Chicago
New Chicago was once a boom town on the narrow strip of land between Admiralty Bay and Crocketts Lake on the north shore of Admiralty Bay on Whidbey Island. When the townsite was platted in 1890 its ambitious name chosen by real estate promoters including John G. Phinney. It was to be the western terminus of the Chicago & Skagit Valley Railroad with an eastern terminus at Sedro-Woolley.
Newell was a small community and post office two and a half miles northwest of Clinton on Whidbey Island in Island County in what is now known as Bayview.
Willis George and Ellen Newell settled there and the post office operated between 1895 and 1904.
- North Bluff
North Bluff on Whidbey Island is at the northwest entrance to Holmes Harbor on Saratoga Passage in south central Island County. The bluff was named by the Wilkes Expedition for James North, acting master of the U.S.S. Vincennes, one of Wilkes’ ships. (Meany, p. 191-92.).
- Oak Harbor
Oak Harbor is on the east side of Whidbey Island between Penn Cove and Crescent Harbor in northwest Island County. This semi-circular harbor is almost bisected by a narrow sand spit and is directly southwest of a U.S. Naval air station. The harbor was named for the many large oak trees in the vicinity, quite an unusual feature in this part of the state.
- Oak Harbor (City)
Oak Harbor is a city on Oak Harbor bay on the east shore of Whidbey Island in northwest Island County. It was founded in 1849 making it one of the older Puget Sound communities. The Indian name for the place was Kla-tole-tsche. (see Oak Harbor)
- Orr’s Pond
A one-acre lake on the south end of Whidbey Island a half mile southwest of Columbia Beach was named for a local resident, Martin Orr. An alternate name is Martin Orr Pond.
- Penn Cove
Penn Cove is on east shore of Whidbey Island, off Saratoga Passage, in west Island County. This commodious harbor was very important in pioneer days, and the home of many retired seafaring men. It was named by Capt. George Vancouver in 1792 in honor of “a particular friend.” The person honored was evidently either John or Richard Penn, both of whom were grandsons of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. The harbor was charted by Cmdr. Charles Wilkes in 1841 as Penn’s Cove.
John G. Phinney once owned a considerable amount of land on the south east end of Whidbey Island in Island County. He operated a logging business and was post master of a post office named Phinney which was established in May of 1884. Mr. Phinney disappeared in a storm on Puget Sound in 1893. After being moved the post office name was changed to Clinton. (Ramsey, Island County, p. 13).
- Point Partridge
The most westerly point of Whidbey Island on Strait of Juan de Fuca is four miles west of Coupeville in western Island County. In 1790, the point was named Punta de Mendendez by Manuel Quimper, for Salvador Menendez Valdes, a close friend. On June 6, 1792, Capt. George Vancouver charted it under the present name for an English family into which his brother, John, had married. An unofficial local name is Red Bluff.
- Point Polnell
This point is on the southwest end of the U.S. Naval Air Base on Crescent Harbor on northern Whidbey Island in Island County. The point was named by the Wilkes Expedition in 1841 for John Polnell, quarter-gunner in one of Wilkes’ crews. A local name is Miller Point or Millers Point. The Indian name was Tscha-tup.
- Port Arthur
Port Arthur was a town that never developed on the south shore of Penn Cove on Whidbey Island west of Coupeville in central Island County. The site was named in 1895 by John Phinney when he platted the town for his brother, Arthur.
- Possession Sound
A Puget Sound passage between southeast Whidbey Island and the adjacent mainland in Snohomish County is named Possession Sound. It was named on June 4, 1792 by Capt. George Vancouver which was the birthday of King George III. On that occasion, Vancouver took formal possession of New Albion, renaming it New Georgia in the king’s honor. In 1841, Cmdr. Charles Wilkes copied Vancouver’s name.
- Prairie Center
Prairie Center is a community directly south of Penn Cove on central Whidbey Island in central Island County. This descriptive name became official through use over many years.
- Race Lagoon
Race Lagoon is on the east central side of Whidbey Island, four and a half miles south of Coupeville on Saratoga Passage in Island County. It was named for Henry Race, who came to Kitsap County from Australia in 1856 and moved to Whidbey Island in 1876.
- Red Bluff
When the Wilkes Expedition of 1841 was charting the west side of Whidbey Island they named a point of land now known as Admiralty Head Red Bluff for the redish color of the soil of the bluff. It is now part of Fort Casey State Park. The remains of the long row of gun emplacements are on the inland side of the bluff.
- Rocky Point
Rocky Point is at the east entrance to Holmes Harbor in Saratoga Passage on south Whidbey Island in Island County. The descriptive name, used frequently in the Pacific northwest, was chosen by Cmdr. Wilkes in 1841.
- San de Fuca
San de Fuca is a village on Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, two and a half miles northwest of Coupeville in west central Island County. In 1889, the town was named by a real estate syndicate composed of H. C. Power, L. H. Griffiths, and J. W. Gillespie. These promoters used a shortened version of San Juan de Fuca. The town was boomed as the east entrance of a cross-island canal which was never dug.
- Sandy Point
Sandy Point is on the southeast shore of Whidbey Island two miles southwest of Camano Head in south Island County. It is a long, low sandy spit was charted by Cmdr. Charles Wilkes in 1841. A local name is Sandy Beach. Other names, for a settler named Joseph F. Brown, are Brown’s Point, Joe Brown’s Point, and Joe Brown Spit. (Ramsey. Island County, p. 18).
A water passage between Camano and Whidbey islands in Puget Sound, central Island County, is called Saratoga Passage. On June 4, 1792, the pass was named Port Gardner, by Capt. George Vancouver, for Vice-Admr. Sir Alan Gardner of the Royal Navy. In 1841, Cmdr. Wilkes charted the passage under the present name in honor of the U.S. flagship in the battle of Lake Champlain during the War of 1812. Capt. Kellett tried to restore Vancouver’s name in 1847, but was unsuccessful. Gardner’s name is on the bay at Everett in Snohomish County. (Meany, p. 257).
The Wilkes Expedition, 1841, made the following record: “I have called Saratoga Passage the strait leading from Deception Passage to Admiralty Inlet at the south end of Whidby’s Island, 35 miles distant.” (Hydrography Volume XXII., page 311, and chart 77.)
Wilkes had called the island on the east of the waterway “McDonough’s Island” in honor of Thomas Macdonough who gained fame in the Lake Champlain battles of 1812, using as his flagship the Saratoga. Intensifying a geographical honor for a naval hero by an adjacent one for his ship, was a favorite scheme of Wilkes.
Vancouver, in 1792, had named the waterway Port Gardner after Sir Alan Gardner. The southeastern cape ` he had called Point Alan after the same man and the adjacent waterway he called Port Susan after Lady Susan Gardner. He took possession for Great Britain and called the waterway from Point Alan to the southern end of Whidbey Island Possession Sound.
Captain Henry Kellett in 1847 gave the Spanish name Camano to the island and sought to restore Vancouver’s name of Port Gardner. Much variation is observed on subsequent charts. Port Gardner has now practically disappeared. The United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Chart 6450 shows Possession Sound extending from the southern end of Whidbey Island to Allen Point and Saratoga Passage from that point northward.
The same Survey’s Chart 64.48 gives the name Port Gardner to the southern portion of Everett Harbor. [Edmond S. Meany. Origin of Washington Geographic Names. Seattle: University of Washington, 1923. p. 257].
- Scatchet Head
High cliffs of glacial clay on the south tip of Whidbey Island, west of Possession Point in southern Island County are called Scatchet Head. These cliffs were named Skadg-it Head by Cmdr. Wilkes in 1841 for a local Indian tribe. Early steamship and sailing ship navigators on Puget Sound called them False Skatchet and called Possession Point Scatchet Head. The present name, a modified version of Skagit, has been officially recognized. (USBGN) (Meany, p. 259).
- Scenic Heights
Scenic Heights is a neighborhood listed on the Metsker map of Island County a mile and a half south of Oak Harbor. The “scene” to the east is of Oak Harbor, Saratoga Passage and Camano Island. The “scene” to the west is of the farmlands of central Whidbey Island and over the hills to the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
Skagit is the name of an indian tribe which lived on the river now known by the same name, The tribe also occupied part of Whidbey Island. As in the case of other Indian names there have been many forms of the word used. (Handbook of American Indians, Volume II., page 585.) John Work, of the Hudson’s Bay Company, in 1824, referred to Scaadchet Bay. (Washington Historical Quarterly, July, 1912, page 225.) George Gibbs used the present form of the word on March 1, 1854. (Pacific Railroad Reports, Volume I., page 471.) The same form is used in the treaty by which the Skagits ceded their lands, January 22, 1855.
- Skagit (Skatchett) Head
A post office named Skagit Head was established on or near the southern tip of Whidbey Island in Island County by J.I. Turner in 1858. (Ramsey, Island County, p. 8).
- Skagit Bay
Skagit Bay is between Skagit Delta and Whidbey Island northwest of Stanwood in southwestern Skagit, southeastern Island, and northwestern Snohomish counties. The bay was important in the days of steam boating on the Skagit River and continues to be an important waterway.
- Smith Island
Smith Island is a light house and bird refuge reservation in the east reach of the Strait of Juan de Fuca seven miles west of Whidbey Island in western Island County. It was charted by Cmdr. Wilkes as Blunt’s Island, for one of his midshipmen, Simon F. Blunt in 1841. A Spanish explorer, Lieut. Francisco de Eliza, named the island and nearby Minor Island as Islas de Bonilla in 1791. The present name first appeared on British charts in 1847 and in 1858, on U.S. Coast Survey charts. Records indicate that the name had been used prior to these dates by Hudson’s Bay Company, and was for an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company. (Meany, p. 277).
- Smith Prairie
Smith Prairie on Whidbey Island is in the east central part of the island three miles southeast of Coupeville in central Island County. It was named for Joseph S. and Julia Ann Smith, who took a Donation Land Claim of 636 acres on the prairie south of Snatelum Point in 1853.
- Snatelum Point
Snatelum Point is the south entrance to Penn Cove on the east shore of Whidbey Island in central Island County. In 1841, this feature was named Watsak Point by Cmdr. Wilkes, but the name did not endure. The present name was for an Indian, Snatelum, whose Boston or American name was Long Charlie. (USBGN)
- St. Louis
St. Louis was a boom town of the early 1890s that existed mostly on paper on the site of Freeland at the south end of Holmes Harbor on Whidbey Island in Island County. The name was chosen by Nathaniel Hilton and George B. Morrison, who platted the town in 1890. Many northwest boom towns were given the names of eastern cities.
- Still Park
Still Park is an area on central Whidbey Island near Prairie Center in Island County. This old place, not shown on recent maps, was named for Judge Lester Still, a landowner who brought the first automobile to Whidbey Island.
Taftsonville is an old settlement near San de Fuca on west central Whidbey Island in Island County. It was named for Martin and Christian Taftson or Taftezon who settled in the region in 1851 by the surveyor general of Washington Territory when he mapped the island in 1859. (Meany, p. 301).
The post office of Useless was at the head of Useless Bay nine miles west of Clinton on Whidbey Island. The post office was established October 17, 1883 and was changed to Island on May 5, 1893. Useless post office was at the site of the Stetson-Post logging camp and was looked upon as a joke by the lumbermen and loggers of the region. (Ramsey, Island County, p. 13).
- Useless Bay
Useless Bay is on the southwest shore of Whidbey Island om southwest Island County. The name was charted by the Wilkes Expedition of 1841. The bay is so shallow that it is almost dry at low tide, and also offers no protection from prevailing winds.
- Watsak Point
Watsak Point is the south cape of Penn Cove, on the east shore of Whidbey Island, in Island County. It was named by the Wilkes Expedition, 1841. (Hydrography, Volume XXIII., Atlas, chart 90.) It is sometimes locally known as Snakeland Point. This, in turn, comes from the name of two Skagit Indian chiefs.
Mrs. Isaac N. Ebey wrote in her diary on December 27, 1852: “George Sneightlen came back from Port Townsend this evening and I had to let him and his Indians camp in the smokehouse all night.” (Washington Historical Quarterly, Volume VIII., page 58.)
The Point Elliott treaty, signed on January 22, 1856, with the “Dwamish, Suquamish and other allied tribes” bears 82 Indian signatures, including: “Kwuss-ka-nam, or George Snatelum, Sen., Skagit tribe, and Hel-mits, or George Snatelum, Skagit sub-chief.” (Charles J. Kappler, Indian Affairs, Volume II., page 672.) [Edmond S. Meany. Origin of Washington Geographic Names. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1923.p. 340].
- Whidbey Island
[Joseph T. Walbran. British Columbia Coast Names. 1595-1906. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, 1909., p. 527-529.
Whidbey island, Puget sound, U. S. territory, state of Washington. Named by Vancouver, in 1792, after his indefatigable and careful officer, Joseph Whidbey, R.N., master of the Discovery. This book would not be complete without a notice of Whidbey, for an officer in Vancouver’s expedition examined more of this coast line in an open boat than the master of the Discovery, and doubtless he often suggested to his commander the names which many points and islands at present bear.
He was a most accurate and painstaking observer, and little seems to have escaped his attention when on his boat expeditions, if we may judge from the fidelity with which his remarks apply to the coast today. Vancouver apparently had the greatest confidence in Whidbey’s judgment and skill, and from long experience was, no doubt, fully justified in reposing this trust in his officer. They had been ship-mates previous to this voyage.
The examination of this coast line to ascertain if a passage existed to the eastward, commonly known as the Northwest passage, was most carefully carried out by Vancouver and his staff, and when their work was finished this Question, so far as concerned the coast line between the strait of Juan de Fuca and Cook’s inlet, was finally disposed of, and Admiral de Fonti’s strait was proved to be a myth.
Day in and day out, Sunday and every other day, rain, wind and shine, Vancouver’s little boats for three seasons had kept at work, winding through the tortuous and mountainouS channels of this coast until much was known and charted. The first boat expedition left the ships, 7 May, 1792, from Port Discovery; and the last expedition returned to the ships, 19 August, 1794, to Port Conclusion; hence the name.
When the boats, coming from different directions, met on the 16 August and found their labors ended, Whidbey remarks :-” that it is not possible for language to describe the joy that was manifested in every countenance on thus meeting their comrades and fellow adventurers, by which happy circumstance, a principal object of the voyage was brought to a conclusion.”
After the boats had made fast in a little cove for the night, a good deal of joking went round amongst the seamen over the fact that the expedition had sailed from England on the first of April to look for a Northwest passage. Vancouver named the sound where the boats terminated their work on the 16th, Prince Frederick’s sound, that day being the birthday of H.R.H. Frederick, Duke of York. (Vancouver, 8 , VI, pp. 37-40.) In 1799, four years after his return home in the Discovery. Whidbey made a survey of Torbay, published by Arrowsmith in 1800. A copy of this chart is in the British Museum and on this copy is drawn an oval line with a note in the margin: “The oval in the middle of the bay is marked with a view of forming an island to make a harbor of the bay.” This is rather curious, considering that Torbay is not very far from Plymouth and the position is somewhat similar to the Plymouth breakwater, with the construction of which Whidbey was afterwards associated for many years.
In 1803 appears a paper from Mr. Whidbey in the Philosophical Transactions, on the sinking of the Dutch frigate Ambuscade. In 1806 when holding the position of Master Attendant of Woolwich dockyard he was instructed to proceed to Plymouth in company with Mr. J. Bennie, C.E., to examine the sound in regard to the construction of a breakwater.
They were assisted by Mr. Remains, the Master Attendant of Plymouth dockyard, who was ordered to join them, and the annual report on the breakwater was made 21 April, 1806. Whidbey seems to have been a man to gain, wherever he went, the respect and good will of those with whom he was brought in contact.
On the subject of appointing, a superintendent for the contemplated breakwater, Lord St. Vincent, who is said to have first suggested it, speaks thus highly of Whidbey in a letter dated 21 November, 1806, addressed to the Right Hon. Thomas Grenville. “Mr. Whidbey is the man of all others I should select to conduct the new works in Plymouth sound under the superintendence of Mr. Rennie, who will come down to his assistance whenever he is in fault. No two men understand each other better?’ (Brenton’s “Life of Earl St. Vincent.” II, p. 329.) After a long delay an order in council was passed on the 22 June, 1811, to commence the work, and the plain of Messrs. Rennie, Whidbey and Remains was adopted. This plan was published in pamphlet form in 1820. The first stone of the breakwater was laid with great ceremony on 12 August, 1812, the birthday of the Prince Regent. Mr. Whidbey was the resident superintendent from the commencement until 31 March, 1830, when he had to resign, as the anxious duties of his office were too much for his declining health; Mr. W. Stuart, who had been his assistant, succeeded him. The breakwater first appeared above the water, 31 March, 1813, and was completed in April, 1841. The whole of the work was designed by Mr. Rennie, and carried out by Mr. Whidbey and Mr. Stuart. In the account of the breakwater, published in 1848, by the designer’s son, Sir John Rennie, Mr. Whidbey is often mentioned. (Rennie “Historical Account of Plymouth Breakwater,” 1848; Annual Register, 1812, LIV, p. 102.) In 1815, Lieutenant Von Kotzebue in his exploring voyage to the Pacific called at Plymouth and visited Mr. Whidbey. In the journal of the voyage he states :-” After I had concluded my business, I paid a visit to Mr. Whidbey, a friend of Captain Krusenstern. This well informed and very amiable man had made the voyage with Vancouver. Mr. Whidbey is now constructing the Breakwater at Plymouth, a work that does him much credit.” (Kotzebue’s Voyage, 1815-1816, London, 1821. I, p. 98.) Whidbey was a master, RN., with seniority of 1779, and retired in May, 1805. (Naval Records, Admiralty.) He died at Taunton, Somersetshire, in 1833, and is buried in the churchyard of the Parish Church of St. James, Taunton, where appears the following epitaph:
Sacred to the memory of JOSEPH WHIDBEY, EsQ., F.R.S.,Died October 9th, 1833. Aged 78 years. [Joseph T. Walbran. British Columbia Coast Names. 1595-1906. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, 1909. p. 527-529].