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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Twenty-Four

Depression '3 Cs' Helped Build the Bridge

Building a bridge across Deception Pass during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Deception Pass State Park began to take shape through one of the Depression's most colorful programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

Up to this time the wooded acreage on both sides of the Pass, with the exception of one side of Cranberry Lake, held uncharted trails through brush and over rocks. To climb Goose Rock for an Easter Sunrise Service, young people took a rowboat at Cornet Bay across to the Rock, then climbed upward through primeval growth, over logs of fallen trees to "the Top of the World."

When 200 CCC "boys" arrived, to build a park under the direction of the U.S. Army, they found plenty of work building trails, picnic tables and benches, Park "kitchens" and restrooms, all fashioned from native materials of rock and trees. And 70 years later, these same buildings still serve the public, their beauty blending into this most popular of State Parks.

Crossing the Bridge from either side, the highway linking Fidalgo and Whidbey Island is outlined with rock and fir tree railings, unique expressions of the Northwest, built by the CCCs. A few years ago it was rumored that the State Parks Department was considering removing the picturesque railings to replace them with plastic. Garden Club members on North Whidbey rose to the occasion with vehemence, and the venture was dropped!

The CCC program flourished as a government assistance program in a time when the economy and opportunity for work was at its lowest. Young men from 18 to 21 found work, plus board and room, for a whopping $30 per month, of which $25 was sent home to the boy's parents, and $5 took care of the worker's expenses.

Deception Pass State Park grew, on both sides of the Pass, as young men learned to use rock and cement, along with the native wood of the forest to build picturesque shelters for Pass Park visitors, and to open the scenic views of Bowman's Bay, West Beach and Goose Rock.

At Bowman's Bay, an Interpretive Center under the direction of Mae and Vic Olson, he a former CCC member, is of high interest to visitors. Pictures and stories, and Olson's graphic remembrance of how the young men of the country responded, not only for work and a paycheck but to build a unique park in the area on two sides of Deception Pass, the turbulent waterway that is one of the wonders of the Great Northwest.

One may now "climb" Goose Rock from the highway side, following a path to the top from which views of surrounding Islands, mountains and waterways embrace a pristine wilderness.

The 200 CCC "boys" helped build the Deception Pass Bridge as well as the kitchens, picnic tables and restrooms in the Park, and trails and docks at Cranberry Lake. Handling the steel that went into the bridge, learning the building crafts and countless other "work" outlets, from building roads to cement foundations for a camp kitchen, the CCC will always be remembered for its participation at Deception Pass on both Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands.

Historic footnote: Bowman's Bay on the Fidalgo side is named for an early Anacortes entrepreneur, who named that city after his wife, Anna Cortez.

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