Category Archives: Historical Places

A Short History of Barnum Point

View of Barnum Point from road east of  Triangle Cove of the sight of the original Barnum home. The park is not accessible from this point. The new entrance is from parking lot near the end of Sunrise Blvd. Photo taken 2019.  See our 2020 calendar for a historical view of this historic place.

Our treasured new Island County park on Camano Island, like our others, has an unusual history.  The 166 acres that is now a park was a single landowners property since about 1904 when it was purchased by Sterling J. Barnum.  His early ownership undoubtedly coined its name. The United States Board of Geographic Names describes Barnum Point on Camano Island as a cape.  With its steep south facing cliffs it is a prominent geographical feature in Port Susan and now a stunning Island County park with wide panorama views of the Cascades and Mount Rainier.  The point or cape is now an Island County park with stunning views of the Cascades and woodlands in Port Susan.  Its history is still to be found in the vegetation, fields and woodland trails.  We are forever grateful to the family for making this available to us.

Metsker Maps, and Chas. F. Metsker. Metsker’s County Atlas: [Island County, Washington]. Tacoma, WA: Metsker Maps, 1949.

In 1904 when Sterling Barnum bought the property, a second phase of logging had begun after the Utsalady Milll closed a decade earlier.  The Camano City area was growing and Livingston Bay had several surrounding farms.  The family’s history here begins with Sterling Barnum (1868 – 1936) who came from Binghamton New York to be near the water.

In their earliest days according to accounts by his daughters the Barnum family fished and raised Rock Island Red chickens, sheep, cows, pigs, vegetable gardens and a large orchard. They lived on what they produced and had little association with Stanwood. Potatoes and some oats were their cash crops.   They also grew strawberries that ripened before other farms because of the long afternoon sun. Their only modern convenience was a telephone at the time

The bridge to the island wasn’t built until 1909 and the road from Stanwood where there was a ferry crossing, only went as far as Terry’s Corner.  Before the bridge, the family made only a few trips a year to Stanwood on a scow or a rowboat.  Usually supplies were picked up by the steamer or scow that brought supplies to the mill across the cove before there was a road.  They went in on the incoming tide and came back on the outgoing tide. The children rode their pony to Terry’s Corner to pick up mail.

In 1908 Barnum was instrumental in establishing the Central School (Island County District #21) for his children and others in the vicinity so they would not have to travel all the way to Utsalady or Camano City.  Classes were first held in the Evans home, neighbors of the Barnums.  A school building was originally constructed at the corner of Russell Road and Barnum Point road and eventually moved to property just north to the current location of the Island County Sheriff department.

Mr. Barnum served one term as County Commissioner from 1914-1915 to promote road building on the island and by the 1920s the Island was welcoming auto traffic through Stanwood.

Inn at Barnum Point Sign, 2006 – This sign now removed but once marked the entrance to the Barnum Point Inn from the early 1990s until about 2013.

A few family members stayed on or used it as a summer place.  The most recent memory of popular access was the construction of Barnum Point Inn, a new bed and breakfast built in 1992 or 1993 by Carolin Barnum DiLorenzo.  She operated it for about 25 years.

The property remained in the family’s hands until the 2010s when family members could no longer support the property.  In about 2013 they began negotiating with community groups interested in preserving this spectacular and undeveloped geographic feature that could have been sold for residential development.  Purchases of different sections were made over a period of years and final purchase was made and the park became complete with a new parking lot in 2019. Funding for the purchases came from Island County, Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Washington Department of Ecology. To start off the successful fundraising campaign, more than 600 private donors responded with proactive support from Whidbey Camano Land Trust , Friends of Island County Parks, and many other volunteers.

c. 2020; Stanwood Area Historical Society and Karen Prasse;  All rights reserved.

Our Historical Parks – Hutchison Park, Camano Island

Stanwood and Camano Island have many local parks to enjoy holiday hikes. Almost all of them are historical parks and thanks to many years of interpretation projects, their stories are there to be read.
Our two State Parks plus a few little Island County Parks (Barnum Point, Iverson, English Boom, and Kayak Point on Port Susan are great places to observe wildlife, sunshine and possibly share your memories of the parks and how they were established.

Hutchison Park Camano Island

Hutchison Park, Camano Island

On the South end of Camano Island, the Walter G. Hutchison Park was established in 1979 and is used by neighbors, walkers, and bikers and those who are just on a drive around the island.   It is perhaps our smallest park with a short trail maintained by local volunteers and we know very little about it.  It is located at 3227 South East Camano Drive.

We have been looking into more information to properly document its history and will update this story when we can.  Contact us if you know more information.
Now it has a new feature, it’s own little library in a telephone booth managed by our park volunteers.

Walter G Hutchinson plaque dated 1979.

Walter G Hutchinson plaque dated 1979.

Click to see larger image


Little Library in the telephone booth, South End Camano Island

Little Library in the telephone booth, South End Camano Island


Historic view of Leque Island which is now flooded

Leque Island from bridge to Camano Island over the Ovenell Farm. Snow geese are in the distance. circa 2003

Until the last few weeks if you looked south while driving over the bridge from Stanwood to Leque Island you saw what were once the farms of the Eide, Leque and Smith families.  The island was formed when these farmers came to Stanwood in the late 19th century.  They created the island by diking the wetlands at the mouth of the Stillaguamish River where it forked towards Port Susan to the south and Skagit Bay to the West.  Diking created farmland to grow their hay, oats and wheat.

This view looked over West Pass of the Stillaguamish River toward what was Leque Island.  Dikes that surrounded the “island” were removed this month. Now the island is flooded and there is a raised dike on the North side recently reinforced to protect Stanwood from high tides. The Eide House was still there at the time of the photograph (2003) with snow geese in the background.  Farming became impractical and in the 1990s the families sold their farms to the Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.  For a history of Leque Island read here.