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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Thirteen

Former Guard Remembers Pass Prison

Seen from the Bridge looking northeast, are the remains of what was at one time a State Prison Camp on the precipitous cliffs of Fidalgo Island. The prison rock quarry operated from 1910 through 1914, and its nearby barracks housed some 40 prisoners, members of an honors program out of Walla Walla prison.

According to sketchy information concerning the quarry from Ed Jorgensen, a Fidalgo resident, who was interviewed for the anniversary edition Whidbey News-Times issued on the bridge's 50th anniversary, Jorgensen said that all the inmates taking part in the quarry work were to be released in eight months on good behavior.

The prison population was made up of all kinds of prisoners, Jorgensen said, even murderers. Jorgensen stood guard at the quarry as the prisoners cut the rock into gravel and loaded it onto barges located at the base of the cliff in Deception Pass. The quarry hung 200 feet midway between the cliff top and the Pass waters. The quarried rock was taken by barge to be used on the Seattle waterfront.

Although abandoned as a quarry, the remains of the camp continued to excite intrepid teenagers, and there have been casualties among those venturing too far down the steep cliff. Deception Pass Bridge itself has been the topic of derring-doers who claim to have walked the undergirding of the bridge across the channel! The Prison Quarry was dismantled in 1924, with its scrap used to construct ferry slips and cottages.

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