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History and Mystery: an Island Tour by Gayle Picken


love walking on the beach at Utsalady Bay on the north end of Camano Island. Watching eagles, great blue herons and enjoying the quiet and slow pace of island life. It’s hard to imagine that 150 years ago, this bay was a bustling port with tall ships, a mill and giant logs being shipped all over the world. In fact, Utsalady Bay was the largest port north of San Francisco before the city of Seattle was founded. There was a hotel and blacksmith shop, masonic hall and resi-

Island’s history for yourself. The Camano Island Historic Sites Tour promises a weekend of activities and events for the whole family. Over a dozen historic sites will be open to the public. Visitors can learn how the Camano Island State Park was built in one day, by 500 community volunteers; watch demonstrations of Utsalady Ladies Aid women wrapping bandages like they did during the war, and listen to vintage pump organ music and watch a play in the one-room school house. See an old dairy barn that has been in the family for over 100 years and find out about the return of a 1906 schoolhouse bell that had been missing for over 60 years. Kick up your heals and swing your partner at an oldfashioned square dance with live music and live calling. And put your creativity to the test with a History Mystery Writing Contest. For me, hearing the old family stories and discovering the hidden artifacts has added a new dimension to my walks on the beach and enjoyment of the island. I invite you to add the history layer to your travels as well. Gayle Picken is an arts promoter, video blogger and travel writer. Connect with her at or reach her by email at For details about the Historic Sites Tour, check out

dences for the mill workers and families. In the early 1900’s, there 10 to 20 active logging camps at various locations on the island. Though I’ve lived in this area for over 20 years, I wouldn’t know any of its history if it weren’t for the dedication of a few community members who have worked to keep memories alive. Their efforts have resulted in the purchase of land for preservation, the creation of county and state parks, and the restoration of historical buildings that otherwise would have been lost to another housing development. On March 24-26, these passionate volunteers are inviting you to step back in time and experience Camano natural awakenings

March 2017


March 2017  

Seattle Natural Awakenings magazine

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