About SPMC

A Brief History - Shannon Point Property


Shannon Point Marine Center is located on Fidalgo Island, in Skagit County, Washington, located about 60 mi (97 km) north of Seattle. To the east, it is separated from the mainland by the Swinomish Channel, and from Whidbey Island to the south by Deception Pass. Fidalgo Island was originally inhabited by the Samish and Swinomish peoples.

By the 1860s, railroads had been completed from coast to coast, but no terminus for shipping to Alaska or the Orient had been selected. In anticipation of further extension of the railroad, speculators began buying tracts of land at likely terminal locations.

One of these speculators, Edward L. Shannon, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, arrived at Ship Harbor, the community which later became Anacortes, in the latter part of 1870.  Two years later, he and others formed a syndicate and attempted to secure all property along Burrows Bay and over to Ship Harbor, with the intent of selling it to the Northern Pacific.

The rail road deal fell through, however, and on February 25, 1874, the first patent from the federal government for the land was granted to William Deutsch. Shannon did receive a patent on 163 acres of adjacent property at Ship Harbor and the name Shannon Point remains as a reminder of this early pioneer on the north side of Fidalgo Island.

In the late 1880s, Shannon Point was logged to help feed the four sawmills then operating in the port community. The name of the town had been changed in 1877 from Ship Harbor to Anacortes after Anna Curtis Bowman, wife of area developer and promoter Amos Bowman.

In 1910, most of the Shannon Point property was purchased by Alaska Packers Association; the remainder being purchased by that firm in 1915.

In September, 1923, Fred J. Wood, president of the E. K. Wood Mill Company, purchased the right of way for a rail road along the shoreline around Shannon Point, intending to connect canneries in Ship Harbor with Flounder Bay. Wood began laying track and built a new sawmill at Flounder Bay which was operated by his company until 1943. The railroad right of way became the property of the Great Northern Railroad in 1928.

The mill at Flounder Bay was subsequently purchased by Clyde and Lawrence Walton, was operated by them for a time and was finally closed, and the railroad abandoned, in 1952.

The property owned by Alaska Packers was sold to the Port of Anacortes in June, 1959; ownership of the railroad right of way reverted to the Port in 1962. The site was owned by the Port until purchased by the Washington State Department of General Administration in 1969 for use as a marine laboratory.

1974 – Shannon Point Marine Center Opens
William Summers, Ph.D., Director of the Shannon Point Marine Center.  The new Leona M. Sundquist Marine Laboratory opened under the administration of Western Washington University to serve as a consortium of state institutions of higher learning.