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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Eight

Deception Pass Bridge Association

The name was "Deception Pass Bridge Association" and the annual membership fee was one dollar. Lyle B. Muzzall, Commander of the George Morris Post, American Legion was elected president in 1930. Members of the association were notables from Skagit and Snohomish as well as Island counties. The Great Depression was in full swing all over the nation, many projects needed money in a time when there was little to be had.

A host of obstacles stood in the path of building the bridge. First was the site itself, a formidable obstruction that many considered unbridgeable. Although Pass Island offered a natural supporting pier, the solid wall of rock 180 feet above the treacherous currents below were formidable challenges for engineers. Besides funding of the operation, there was political opposition. Unemployment was high and the State Parks Department budget could not cover construction costs. Finally, through years of effort, it took a combination of federal, state and county funds, plus wise use of public employment to accomplish the project.

A major opponent of the bridge was Berte Olson, owner of the ferry from Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island's Cornet Bay. For six years she lobbied against the bill, and used her political clout to get Republican Governor Hartley to veto funding bills. The ferry service was originally begun by Fred Vinson in 1915, who owned a store at Cornet Bay. The "ferry" included a small tug and a scow. It was later taken over by other Islanders, John Lang and sons, then the Olson brothers and Roy Neil, who used the Neil launch "Favorite" to propel the scow which carried the cars to and from Fidalgo Island.

In a letter from Muzzall to Frank Jenne in Mount Vernon, he told about the formation of the Association in 1928 when the George Morris Post of the American Legion, meeting in San de Fuca, was looking for a local project.

The following officers were elected, AI Whitney, (newspaper publisher) President; First Vice President Yorke Dyer; Second Vice President Douglas Almond, and Treasurer, Lyle B. Muzzall. Other officers, community members who had an important part in obtaining a bridge over Deception Pass were Ed Johns, H. T. Wanamaker, W. V. Wells of Anacortes, and Barney Riksen. Others deserving special mention in bringing about the completion of the project included Beriah Brown, Albert Hoffman, Lem Wanamaker, W. V. Wells, Ben Loers, Paul de Bruyn of Langley, Hal Harrington, Ed Hingston of San de Fuca, Elmer Calhoun, O.C. Mortensen, Frank Jenne, Schyler Edwards of Port Townsend, C.D. England and F.E. Cartwright of Mount Vernon.

Muzzall praised Jenne for the part he had played in the project, "The successful conclusion of our efforts is a splendid example of what genuine cooperation can do. Alone, none of these people listed could have gotten anywhere. It has taken the combined efforts of everyone, and although there was some dissension at times, it did not affect the ultimate success. Alone, Island County could not have succeeded, but with Skagit, and the friendships cultivated among other counties, the end was accomplished."

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