Anacortes Washington is located on Fidalgo Island, which boasts a wealth of natural beauty and waterfront activities.
The island has an estimated population of 20,700 (from 2010 census numbers) with its only city, Anacortes, having a population of 15,960. There are 41.19 square miles to the island, with 3,091 acres of city-owned forest lands and parks, with 65.4 miles of saltwater shoreline. The community forest lands comprise approximately 10% of Fidalgo Island. We have five freshwater lakes, and house nearly 2,500 boat slips in 6 different marinas.
Anacortes, and Fidalgo Island, are part of Skagit County. Skagit County maintains one of the largest and most diverse agricultural communities west of the Cascade mountain range. Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Skagit County. Local farmers produce about $261 million worth of crops, livestock, and dairy products on 93,000 acres of land. Over 80 different crops are grown in Skagit County, including 50 percent of the world’s beet and spinach seed. More tulip, daffodil and iris bulbs are produced in Skagit County than in any county in the United States. Skagit County is also the state’s leading strawberry producer, and approximately 95 percent of the red potatoes grown in Washington State are grown here in the Skagit Valley. Click here for a PDF of how to best Savor the Skagit Valley’s bountiful harvests!
Washington State Ferries
Anacortes Washington is a ferry-served community that helps travelers visit the San Juan Islands and Victoria BC – over 1.9 million travelers used the terminal in 2014.
Deception Pass State Park
The south side of Fidalgo Island is also home to Deception Pass State Park, which is the most visited state park in Washington, encompassing 1300 acres (another 4% of the island). The Deception Pass State Park also includes the Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center at Bowman Bay, and features trout fishing in Pass Lake. There, guests can explore Pass Lake (95 acres) and the Maiden of Deception Pass story pole, which is located in the Rosario Beach area of the park. The carving depicts the story of Ko-Kwal-alwoot, a culturally important legend of the Samish Indian Nation. Read more about the story here, as told by Charlie Edwards to Martin Sampson in 1938. “But always she was the guardian of her people. Because of her they always had plenty of seafood and plenty of pure water in the springs and streams. Her people could see that she was watching over them. As the tide passed back and forth through Deception Pass, they could see her long hair drifting on the surface of the water. They knew that the maiden of the sea was watching over her people.”
Our island boasts a tremendous weather advantage. The island averages 26 inches of rain per year, roughly a foot less than Seattle. July and August average less than an inch of rain per month, and the months of April through to September average 20+ days of sun per month.
Annual Precipitation: 26 inches per year
Average Lake Temperature: mid to low 70’s in July and August (for the highs) and mid to upper 50’s in July and August (for the lows)
Fidalgo Island has a rich Native Peoples history. For more than 10,000 years people have lived in the Fidalgo and Guemes Island areas. The most recent native peoples to arrive are the Samish and the Swinomish. The Samish lived mainly on Samish, Guemes and northern Fidalgo islands, the Swinomish on southern Fidalgo Island, northern Whidbey Island and part of the Skagit River delta. The Swinomish reservation was created by the Treaty of Point Elliott in January of 1855, on southeastern Fidalgo Island, where many of the Swinomish and other native Skagit peoples live today. In 1996 the Samish were officially recognized as a tribe.
Setting the Foundation
In 1876 Amos Bowman and wife Annie moved to the eastern area of Ship Harbor. In 1877 Amos Bowman established a post office and named it Anacortes from Annie Curtis, his wife’s maiden name. It was Amos Bowman’s dream for Anacortes Washington to become the terminus for the transcontinental railroad. However, in 1890 when Anacortes was not selected as the railroad terminus the town experienced a depression, and hundreds of people left.
The Fishing & Industry Boom
In 1891 Anacortes incorporated as a city, and began the road to economic recovery and a new identity as a fish and lumber town. From the 1890’s to the 1950’s the city experienced surges, and declines, in salmon canning, fish processing, shingle and lumber mills, and other industry such as brick and glass making.
Anacortes Washington saw another decade of growth and development between the 1950’s and 1960’s when Shell and Texaco built refineries on the March point area. Technology based industries arrived in the 1980’s and both private and public marinas were built on the sites of wood mills and fish canneries.