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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Four

Mount Vernon to Fort Casey was via the Pass

The first time we remember having heard of Deception Pass, our dear Mother who came with her parents, sisters and brothers to Mount Vernon in 1902, told us about the dances at Fort Casey, an Army post on Whidbey Island!

Fort Casey was a long way from Mount Vernon in those days, and the only way to get there was by boat. That meant a good sized boat used for transportation of passengers and freight, or an Indian canoe.

The Fort soldiers, isolated as they were, found that monthly dances brought in young people to help make their military life a little more bearable. And Mother said a small steamer left Mount Vernon on the afternoon of the dance, trekked down the Skagit River past La Conner and through Deception Pass, then on southward past Ebey's Prairie and to Fort Casey. Mother and her sisters found the Fort Casey dances an exciting experience for the new settlers from the little town on the Skagit River.

Deception Pass was the highlight of the journey, the boat navigating the swirling waters between Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands! And dancing until 2 a.m., plus refreshments at midnight made the evening a real triumph. The dancers were then taken to downtown Coupeville where they spent the rest of the morning hours at the hotel (still standing on Front and Main). Morning brought boarding the boat for home, and the long journey by water through the Pass back to the dock at Mount Vernon.

The dances occurred at least once a month and provided stimulus for the young people until the next foot-stomping event.

Coming to live in Oak Harbor in the mid-twenties, we recall the part Fort Casey took in Whidbey Island young people's lives at that time. The Fort had weekly showings of black and white movies, and to go on a date was a big treat--a trip by automobile to the Fort and to see an up-to-date movie! There was no Deception Pass to ford, but the Fort was still there!

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