Coupeville Wharf - History
An Interview with Roger Sherman about
the history of Coupeville Wharf
There were several early wharves at Penn Cove in the latter half of the 1800s that had been built for passenger travel and importing and exporting products between the island and the mainland. The problem with these early wharves was that most could only be used at extreme high tide. Historical records are sketchy, but the following wharfs are known to have existed, including: Robertson, Happy Jack’s, and Pearson Wharfs.
Activation of Fort Casey in 1901 brought a larger population quickly to Central Whidbey.
In 1905, to accommodate the growth, local merchants and farmers built a 500 foot wharf at the foot of Alexander Street. This wharf is the current wharf in Coupeville.
The configuration existing today was shown on the Sanborn Fire Insurance map.
Elmer Calhoun purchased the Wharf sometime between 1909 and 1914 (sources differ on this point). After purchasing it he added a grain tower to the "L" shaped building. The north side of the building included a waiting room and a rest room "a two holer that flushed with the tide", for steam boat passengers.
Elmer Calhoun made major repairs to the Wharf building.
In 1935 the Deception Pass Bridge was completed. Consequently, Island Transportation discontinued steamboat service to Seattle in 1936 as the little steamers were no longer cost effective. The last steamer to run the Whidbey Island route was the ALANTA.
Freight boats continued to use the Wharf during harvest season.
Dick Hansen purchased the Wharf from Elmer Calhoun for $10,000 and renamed it the "Coupeville Wharf & Seed Company.
The Coupeville Wharf & Seed Company
Larger bin capacity was needed, so an extension was put up through the roof called "the dog house".
The Wharf became part of the Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve, the first historic district of its kind recognized in the U.S.
A new rock bulkhead was installed at the head of the pier.
The grain tower was removed and the causeway was renovated and the east end remodeled for use as a marine store and delicatessen.
It became part of the Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve, the first historic district of its kind recognized in the U.S.
The Wharf was rehabilitated consistent with historical code standards and historical considerations. A concrete fuel dock was added to the wharf and an underground fuel tank was installed at the landward end of the causeway. Three mooring floats were attached to the Wharf for the use of pleasure boats.
The wharf and mount Baker
The Port rebuilds the interior of the west wing and includes a large foyer and two rental areas.
One of the educational exhibits in the wharf foyer
The WA State Beach Watchers assembled "Rosie the Whale" from bones savaged from a 33 foot gray whale and it is displayed in the wharf’s foyer.
"Rosie" the whale hangs in the wharf foyer
Two moorage floats were added and unused dolphins removed. Four mooring buoys were placed in a line west of the Wharf.
Wharf facilities include:
- Whale watching trips in Saratoga Passage on the Victoria Clipper
- Kim’s Cafe
- Harbor Gift and Kayak Rental
- Local Grown, including Whidbey Island Farm Foods, Espresso and Marine Supplies
- Marine exhibits
The Wharf in spring time
For an essay on the history of the Wharf by Roger Sherman Click here. It is 1.8 Mbytes.