June 30, 2014

6/18/14 - Ebey's Landing NHR

George's brother and his wife live on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound in Washington. Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve is on Whidbey Island too. Hmm...sounds like a plan!

We took the ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton, then drove up the island to Coupeville.  (This is the Cathlamet.  We passed it on the way to the island and rode it on the way back.  I love ferry boats--in the summertime!)
We drove north to Coupeville.  Near the wharf is an information kiosk about Ebey's Landing NHS, so we got a brief overview before we started out.

There were some people filming something but every time I moved to get close enough to hear, they stopped. It was really frustrating!

The Whale Wheel shows local woodcarver's renditions of the coastal-style Orca.  Isn't it cool?  (Just in case you're interested, the Island County Historical Museum next door has Passport Stamps.)

We went to Les & Dianne's for awhile, then went to lunch with the two of them and Dianne's brother Dirk.  After a few hours, they headed one way and we drove on to see more of the Reserve.  In 1850 the Donation Land Law offered free land in the Oregon Territory to any US citizen for homesteading.  Here's where Isaac Ebey landed on Whidbey Island near Perego Bluff.

The Prairie Wayside was closed...

We drove to the Prairie Overlook to check out Ebey's Prairie, where the Ebey family farmed.  It was a pretty day and for such a bucolic setting.  (I've known this word for a long time, but can never use it in a sentence.  I think it meets one of my 6th-grade spelling homework assignments.)
The Jacob Ebey Blockhouse was closed for renovation.  We could have walked down to it, but got outvoted by a big agricultural sprayer going that way.  (Really big chemical applicators = 1; George & Jane = 0.)  This is probably the Ebey barn.  There was no sign, but it sure looks like a barn to me, and it's really old and was down the Ebey's Prairie Trail.
Next door--if you can call it that--is the Sunnyside Cemetery where many of the original homesteaders are buried.  Even looking at the map with the grave layout, we weren't able to find many of the graves.  (sigh)
The Davis Blockhouse is there so we were able to see what they were like.  They were built as mini-forts, but apparently it wasn't necessary.  You have any idea how glad I am to have been born in the 20th century???
By the way, Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve is the first (and as far as I can tell, the ONLY) National Historical Reserve in the country.  In the '70s local citizens organized to halt a housing development slated for Ebey's Prairie.  Someone obviously had some political connections because it was designated by Congress in 1978 "to preserve and protect a rural community which provides an unbroken historic record from...19th century exploration and settlement in Puget Sound to the present time."  Sounds nice--but aren't there many, many, many other communities that fit that criteria?  It includes a town, state and county parks

Personally I think it's nice that there aren't houses on the prairie, and I suppose NHR is better than National Park status (see my comments on my blog entry for Cuyahuga Valley NP.)   I'll put the soapbox away now...we'll be starting on our 2014 trip in July and we'll go to some real national parks!

A few more pictures of our Ebey's Landing outing:  Ebey's Landing NHR