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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Nineteen

It Took a Woman to Get Things Going Again

No great accomplishment is done without the vision of men and women, who sometimes work for decades toward an ultimate finale; people in high places and people who elected them, plus people who took up the shovel and axe to assure their participation in the dream!

Pearl A. Wanamaker was just such a participant. A woman, a representative to the State Legislature, she was also a Democrat, a major aggravation to Island County 's Republican majority. But the long-suffered disagreements of two parties disappeared with the construction of the long-sought Deception Pass Bridge. Suddenly a Whidbey Islander took preeminence over party rule. And Pearl A. Wanamaker will long be remembered, along with Captain George Morse and a number of others who brought Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands together with a two-span bridge across beautiful Deception Pass.

At the dedication of the Deception Pass Bridge, State Representative Pearl Wanamaker broke a bottle of champagne on the concrete floor of the structure saying: "I christen thee Deception Pass Bridge." Her closing words were:

"Great it is to believe the dream,
As you stand in youth by the starry stream,
But a great thing is to live life through,
And say at the end, the dream is true!"

One recalls the days when the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station of North Whidbey transformed the fertile farm fields of Clover Valley to air strips. And what trauma may have existed in the lives of the families who settled there in the 1890s to clear the land by hand, plow and sow it and build their homes and schools; to see Navy buildings go up along with air strips and guarded enclosures.

The Charles Nienhuis family is one who came to make Clover Valley productive. They built a lumber mill that furnished material for many of Oak Harbor's homes and businesses, built a Clover Valley School, cleared the forested land, and farmed. The Riksen family located on the slope of land on the south edge of the valley, and the house and farm buildings have been preserved by the Navy and are in good condition, in commemoration of the early settlers of the area.

The Naval Air Station quickly became the leading installation on the Island, located across the Bridge south of the Park.

Giving credit to these early day settlers, one is reminded that had it not been for Deception Pass Bridge, the Navy probably would not have located in this area of the Northwest. As it was, with the big flying boats called PBYs making their harbor between Crescent and Oak Harbors using the narrow approach to Maylor's Point for Navy building; the Eerkes Hill stretching north between the two harbors the perfect place for Navy housing, the farms of 1850 pioneers became part of the Navy base.

Could Samuel and Thomas Maylor, who came by canoe from California to make their homes on the forested Point have seen the next century's progress, they who came by Indian canoe to their new home would have been amazed. They would have found some variation in the Indian canoe water travel compared to the Navy's Salisbury Sound, docked at the end of a short pier in Crescent Harbor, and the tug Lily scouting the waters for driftwood; or the giant flying boats that circled the Point over both harbors regularly.

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