Samish Island History

Beach house, bronzetone

Timeline | Historical Images & Documents | WWII | Padilla Bay Industrial Park | Samish Slough | Nuclear Power Controversy in Skagit County | Resources |

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Samish Island History is a small part of the history of Skagit County. The main historical periods and events are summarized below, with links to historical pages on this site and online.

Samish Island: A History, from the Beginning to the 1970's, published by islanders Fred and Sue Miller in 2007, is an excellent resource dedicated to the island's history.


General Timeline

Our timeline covers events in Samish history, including pre-history & early history, explorers & early settlers (1790-1860), settlement (1860-1933), and development of community (1934-present).

Historic Images and Documents

You can view a selection of historical documents and images. Many of are also linked from the timeline and the photo gallery page.

World War II

During WWII, soldiers built an observation post on Samish Island, for spotting enemy planes, on the chance that one might evade the large army installations near Port Townsend. Samish Islanders were mobilized to man the Ground Observer Corps.


Padilla Bay "Industrial Park"

In the 1950's, the Skagit County proposed to create a port/industrial park on the tideflats of Padilla Bay between the Swinomish Slough and Samish Island. This page shows some interesing photographs of the unrealized plans.

Samish Slough & the Samish Shoreline

A brief look at the Samish slough that made us an island at one time, and a look at the shoreline of the island in photographs and data.

Nuclear Power Controversy in Skagit County, 1967-1983

In 1967, the push for nuclear power began, supposedly to create more power sources for the Northwest and increase profits by selling to California and the Southwest. This lead to a series of events that affected residents on Samish Island, as well as other parts of Skagit County.

Samish Island Stories

January 28, 2018 - "Samish Island Stories" meeting at the community hall: Things we remember from Samish Island's past. Audio link. (casual recording by Tom Taylor; 94 MB; stories begin about 8 minutes into the recording). Photos of this gathering may be viewed on Flickr,


There are many good resources for history of the Chuckanut Valley area and western Skagit County. We used a few key resources for the history mentioned on our page. Thanks to the Washington State Archives - Northwest Regional Branch in Bellingham, Padilla Bay Interpretive Center, The Skagit County Historical Museum, The Skagit County Journal: West County, edited by Noel V. Bourasaw, and the resources of many area public libraries. Islanders filled in other information for us.


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