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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Bridge: An Anacortes Task

In 1985, the Anacortes American ran a story on the Bridge dedication, and an interview with Paul Luvera Sr., the only surviving member of a committee of four Anacortes Chamber of Commerce members who formed to sell "shares" in the Deception Pass Bridge, which "turns 50 in a celebration this week."

The bridge, Luvera said, now a major tourist attraction and important highway link, in 1935 was built for one reason: commercial dollars!

Luvera pointed out that "back in those days" Anacortes was by far the largest city in Skagit County, while Oak Harbor was just a small village. Anacortes had all the big stores. Anacortes at that time was also the Republican headquarters north of Seattle. And even though the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 had passed Federal and State power to Democratic hands, "the power was still there," he said.

"It was Pearl Wanamaker, former Legislator and State School Superintendent who organized that power and became the sparkplug and promoter for the Bridge. She realized she had to have Anacortes' help with the project, so she came to the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce with an idea to sell "shares" in the project at $10 apiece. The other Chamber of Commerce committee members were C. McCracken; John Douglass, druggist; and Wallie Funk Sr., hotel operator. They then canvassed the area to sell the shares, raising $1,000 which was turned over to Wanamaker. They never asked her how she spent the money. "All we wanted was results, and we got them. Why should we ask her how? She spent it judiciously where it would be the most helpful."

Luvera was at the ribbon cutting ceremony on the Bridge July 31, 1935. "Anacortes was the big pusher," he said, "Mount Vernon, Bellingham and Oak Harbor helped, but the Bridge wouldn't have been built without Anacortes."

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