Samish Island Slough History

The Slough in 1887

According to Samish oral history, island folklore, and early maps, Samish Island was separated from the mainland by a slough and tidal marsh.

Below is an 1887 Navy Map of what the Samish River Slough / Channel looked like then. One could row a small boat through the slough, from Padilla Bay on the west to Alice Bay on the East.

The Slough was actually a salt marsh area between Alice and Padilla Bays, which was filled in during the 1930s by farmers and Skagit County, to construct the present roadway to the island. This action blocked the Samish River outlet to Padilla Bay, forcing the Samish River to go north around the island. Samish Island became a peninsula off the mainland, and that’s why we say “no island like Samish island” on our web page and bumper stickers.

It is suspected that closing the slough may have been responsible for increasing erosion on the Padilla Bay side of the island, and increasing silting of the Alice Bay and Samish Bayside, and the disappearance of oysters in Alice Bay.

The images below are what the slough looked like in 1994. Images are from the Department of Ecology website. On the left is a view from the east, and on the right is a view from the west.