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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Nine

Picnics Kept the Bridge Project Alive

Most great accomplishments come to pass through people working together, laying the groundwork, keeping up the interest, immortalizing the Vision. Getting a bridge over Deception Pass came during the years most difficult, the I920s following World War I, and into the Great Depression when there was literally "no money." A struggling government set up programs for working people such as the Works Progress Administration to build schools, government buildings, hospitals, libraries, and yes, bridges!

On North Whidbey farmers in the Clover Valley area and north (now occupied by the U.S. Naval Air Station) used their horses and farm equipment to commence building the roads to the bridge approaches. The American Legion, an active voice in progress, took it upon itself to activate the interest in a bridge over Deception Pass, and the Cranberry Lake Picnic, an annual summer event was born.

Cranberry Lake, named for its early day growth of the red berry prized by the Indians, is located on Whidbey Island, just south of Deception Pass, and was the first picnic area in Deception Pass Park. Its one entrance from the highway led to a cleared area on the east side of the lake which in earlier times had been a saltwater lake, rising and falling with the tide which entered where a length of beach now lies at its western side.

It was the big event of the summer as families brought their picnic fare and children took part in swimming and land competition; state government leaders exhorting the people to continued effort were speakers, including the Governor himself (with election year coming up) and community bands from surrounding towns rendering their best. A highlight of the day's festivities was a prize given each year to the largest family, and which went each year to a Crescent Harbor farm family, whose last effort was their twelfth child!

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