Anacortes is a community on Fidalgo Island, on the southern shore of Guemes Channel, about 85 miles (137 km) north of Seattle and 20 miles (32 km) west of Mount Vernon, Washington. Anacortes has a rich fishing and shipbuilding history and is well known for the Washington State Ferry terminal that serves the San Juan Islands and Sidney, British Columbia on Vancouver Island.
In 1859, a border dispute between the United States and the United Kingdom prompted the arrival of the USS Massachusetts to protect American interests and negotiate treaties with local Indian tribes. The vessel anchored in a protected embayment that became known as Ship Harbor. In 1876, a railroad surveyor named Amos Bowman moved his family to the northern tip of Fidalgo Island and began promoting the area as a terminus for the Northern Pacific Railway. In 1879, a post office was established there with the name “Anacortes” an adaptation of “Anne Curtis” the name of Bowman’s wife. In 1894, the first salmon cannery was built by the Fidalgo Island Packing Company. In 1951, the State of Washington began operating automobile and passenger ferry service that today has ten routes serving 20 terminals. The agency maintains the largest fleet of ferries in the United States and is one of the largest ferry systems in the world.
In 1997, the Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve was established adjacent to the Washington State Ferry Terminal. The preserve includes 25 acres (10 ha) of freshwater wetlands, 5 acres (2 ha) of upland habitat, and 2,000 feet (610 m) of sandy beach and subtidal eelgrass beds. There is a defined trail system that is protective of particularly sensitive areas and also provides environmental education about the role and significance of the beach and wetlands. Read more here and here. Explore more of the Anacortes Ferry Terminal here: