Friends Notes

Electrified Anacortes

By Docent Bruce McDanold

During the 1890 boom it was widely believed that Anacortes would become the western terminus of a transcontinental railroad bringing with it jobs and huge growth. Hoping to capitalize on this success a few investors began to promote another new city neighboring to the south. They would call it Fidalgo City.

These investors envisioned an electric railroad linking burgeoning Anacortes to Fidalgo City. Soon the Fidalgo City & Anacortes Railroad Company was born. 11 miles of track was laid and an electric power plant was built at the Anacortes end, presuming to use the vast source of timber as fuel for their steam-powered generator.

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2nd Annual Fidalgo Shoreline Academy

The 2nd annual Fidalgo Shoreline Academy will be held on Saturday April 27, 2013 from  8:30 am – 3:30 pm at Fidalgo Bay Resort in Anacortes.  Registration is $25 per person or $35 with Gere-A-Deli box lunch. Your day includes a keynote presentation by UW Polar Science Center's Ron Lindsay on“The Changing Arctic” plus 3 class sessions with choices from six presenters and three interpretive walks.  Registration is online at or by mail - click here for a paper registration form (700k pdf)



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How Fidalgo Bay got its name

By Trail Tales Docent Bruce McDanold

Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve - WA DNRAs the largest of bays on Fidalgo Island, Fidalgo Bay obviously derives its moniker from the island itself. All prior European explorers believed our Island was merely a peninsula so it was not given an English or Spanish name. It wasn't named until 1841 when the United States Exploring Expedition arrived and Lt. Charles Wilkes confirmed Native American information about an estuary forming the eastern shore (now the Swinomish Channel). He named the island Perry's Island after Oliver Hazard Perry, the American hero of the Battle of Lake Erie, 1813.
That name probably would have stuck except for a decision made by British Vice Admiral Sir Henry Kellett in 1847 when the British Admiralty reorganized their charts. Favoring "pro-English" or Spanish names over Wilkes' "pro-American" names, Kellett kept the name given by Vancouver to the Strait of Georgia. He then took the Spanish name for that same passage, the Gran Canal de Nuestra Senora del Rosario la Marinara, shortened it, and affixed it to next passage south: Rosario Strait.
That passage was originally charted by the Spanish as Canal de Fidalgo, after Salvador Fidalgo y Lopegarcia who was one of Spain's early explorers on the Northwest Pacific coast. Kellett, by this process, eventually removed the name given by Wilkes and bestowed the name Fidalgo to Perry's Island in honor of the Spanish explorer. Kellett's names persist to this day.

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2013 Trail Tales Docent Training

DocentsThe second season for Trail Tales is on the horizon! The team of 24 volunteer docents would like to invite other area residents to join the Docent team in bringing the Tales of the Trail alive along the Tommy Thompson Trail.  Training for the new season will begin in the end of March for 4 days to familiarize new docents with the program, the human history along Fidalgo Bay, the current restoration activities and the myriad organisms that weave  their lives along the shoreline. 

Docents also receive professional training in interpretive skills and work with veteran docents and the coordinator to organize thematic presentations for the Trail Walks. The 2013 season will see additional walks and Trail Tales presence at other local events like The Fidalgo Shoreline Academy, the Anacortes Waterfront Festival, and National Estuaries Day. There are many roles for volunteers, including but not limited to the guiding and supporting walks along the trail.  So if you have an interest in helping to make the 2013 season another success and sharing fun with great people, now is the time to join on.

Click here for the application form. Applications must be received by March 15th.  For more information about the program please contact Nancy Olsen, Trail Tales Volunteer Coordinator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Trail Tales Interpretive Signs

During the winter months, volunteers have been busy developing fifteen Trail Tales interpretive signs that will be installed by May 2013;  plus two signs that are being created by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Reserve program. Here is an update on our progress:

  • Signs will be organized into Discovery Points between 34th Street and March Point
  • Betty Carteret (Friends of Skagit Beaches Board President), Jan Hersey (Biz Point Communications), and Bret Lunsford (Anacortes Museum) have been developing sign content. 
  • EDX Edquist Davis Exhibit Designs in Seattle is creating the graphic design of the sign panels.  EDX is a well-known interpretive design firm and is currently working on a new interpretive center at the Grand Canyon and has quite a resume of exhibit designs around the US.
  • IZone Imaging in Texas will be manufacturing the high-pressure laminate signs.  They were selected from four prospective manufacturers and one of the key factors in their selection is their commitment to sustainable manufacturing practices.
  • Six signs between 34th and RV park will be installed by Anacortes Parks & Recreation Department and will be up in March. 
  • The remaining signs will be installed by end of May with assistance of Anacortes Parks & Recreation in time for the opening of our interpretive walk season.


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Friends of Skagit Beaches

Our Mission: Protecting Skagit shorelines and marine waters through education, citizen science, and stewardship. Learn More...

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