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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Fifteen

Bridge was Just a Dream for Many Years

For 15 years the Deception Pass Bridge had been a "dream" as well as an aim of Whidbey and Fidalgo Islanders, including the years of the Great Depression, a nightmare of yesterday.

Many years ahead of her time, Island County 's Representative to the State Legislature, Pearl Wanamaker was instrumental in swaying legislative thinking on the project.

In the political world of the Great Depression, the movement became a political leveler on the bridge concept. Anything that could provide hundreds of jobs for the jobless was a hero in stature! And the small communities of Whidbey Island, bolstered by Skagit County activists had already begun to count on the annual summer picnic at Cranberry Lake, bridge or no bridge.

Each year hopes were raised through promises of funds for the bridge. Top politicians for the State came to encourage the picnic-goers; swimming and other sports events were enjoyed; bands played and Legionnaires were leaders. The dream never died.

In the 50 years of Wanamaker's lifetime the "bridge" saw the end of the Great Depression and World War II. Had the bridge not been built before World War II, the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station might not have been located on Whidbey. The Deception Pass Bridge drew together the rocky shores of Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, bringing hundreds of men and equipment to what was to become the all-type, all-weather Navy Field of the Pacific Northwest to support fleet and Alaska operations.

Islanders remember the lighter moments in the bridge building, such as teenagers, celebrating their last days of school before summer vacation, and in moments of wild daring, "walked the girders" between the Islands, while a merciful providence looked over them!

Deception Pass has become one of the state's most popular tourist attractions, along with the state park that bears the name of the Pass. Mount Baker's spectacular view looking down from the east, the serenity of the "blue islands" to the west, the fishermen pulling the "big ones" from the tumbling Pass water in what has over the years become "the hole," and the passage of boats, big and small, through its roiling waters, fascinate the visitor as well as the Islander for a continuous production called "Visit Deception Pass."

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