Anacortes is a city in Skagit County, Washington. Anacortes' population was 15,778 at the time of the 2010 census. It is one of two principal cities of and included in the Mount Vernon-Anacortes Metropolitan Statistical Area. Anacortes was officially incorporated on May 19, 1891.

History Edit

In 1877, railroad surveyor and town founder Amos Bowman moved his family to the northern tip of Fidalgo Island. Bowman began promoting the area as an obvious terminus for the Northern Pacific Railroad as it was built through the north Cascades to the Pacific. Bowman established the town's first newspaper, The Northwest Enterprise, to promote his vision of the New York of the West.

Seattle and Northern Company began building a rail line from the town in 1888. Real estate and development boomed from 1888 to 1890 as a result of the railroad rumors, and the Oregon Improvement Company posted $15 million in bonds to develop the town.

Anacortes was officially incorporated on May 19, 1891.

In 1891, the real estate bubble burst. Speculators lost money and the Oregon Improvement Company could no longer afford to complete tracks over the Cascades. The town failed to become the railroad terminus Bowman had envisioned.[8]

After the bust, the town became prominent for its fishing tradition, thriving canning industry, and timber mills.

Geography Edit

Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island. It is surrounded by the north Puget Sound and San Juan Islands on three sides, and by the Swinomish Channel and the flats of Skagit Valley to the east.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.53 square miles (40.22 km2), of which 11.75 square miles (30.43 km2) is land and 3.78 square miles (9.79 km2) is water.

Climate Edit

The weather is milder than other areas of the Pacific Northwest, because it lies within the Olympic Mountain rain shadow. Fidalgo Island gets 21 inches of rain per year, only half as much as Seattle.

Recreation and Tourism Edit

Anacortes is a popular destination for boaters and those traveling on to the San Juan Islands. The city maintains a 220-acre city park on the northwestern end of Fidalgo Island named "Washington Park". This park features camping, boat launching, and majestic views of the San Juan Islands. The most prominent view is of Cypress Island. As a result of Anacortes' proximity to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the area provides opportunities for whale-watching. The waters off of Anacortes and Fidalgo Island offer numerous varieties of marine-life, including three resident Orca pods.

Parks Edit

Anacortes has over 20 city parks.

Anacortes Community Forest Lands, 2,800 acres with 50 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails, are a rare amenity in a city the size of Anacortes. In adjacent Mount Erie Park, a number of rock climbing routes are popular on the cliffs of the south and west faces of Mount Erie. Mount Erie offers scenic vistas from its 1,273-foot peak.

Events Edit

Anacortes hosts many long-distance cyclists, as it is the western terminus of the Adventure Cycling Association's Northern Tier cross-country bicycle route, which ends in Bar Harbor, Maine.

"Shipwreck Day" is a popular single-day, flea market/town garage sale event held annually on the 3rd Saturday in July. City management accommodates the occasion by blocking off several downtown streets.

What the Heck Fest was an annual festival coinciding with Shipwreck Day. It began in 2001 and held its last festival in 2011. The festival took place at various locations all Anacortes in a week in the middle of July. Performers presented music, movies, literature, and art. The thematic center of the festival is the dinner show that includes a full meal along with the concert, an actual community event.

The first weekend of August hosts the Anacortes Arts Festival. Started in 1962 as the result of the efforts of a group of dedicated community arts patrons, the festival is held in the midst of blocked-off downtown main street areas. Vendors, merchants, and artisans present their wares in covered booths while jazz and blues musicians are showcased on four different stages.

The Oyster Run is an annual one day biker-friendly motorcycle rally held on the fourth Sunday of September. Beginning in 1981, the event has grown into the largest rally in the Pacific Northwest, with an estimated motorcycle count of 15000 bikes, and growing in numbers each year.

Transportation Edit

Anacortes has a Washington State Ferries dock and terminal serving Lopez IslandShaw IslandOrcas Island, and San Juan Island, as well as Victoria, British Columbia (via Sidney, British Columbia) on Vancouver Island. There is also a Skagit County-operated ferry that serves Guemes Island, a residential island located across Guemes Channel, north of Anacortes.