Oak Harbor is Whidbey Island’s largest incorporated city. Named for the Oak trees which populate most of the City, the city’s growth coincided with two major events: the construction of Deception Pass Bridge on July 31, 1935, and the completion of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island on September 21, 1942.
Oak Harbor’s history can be traced back to the early 1850s, when two settlers staked claims where the city now stands—Zakarias Martin Taftezon, a shoemaker from Norway; C.W. Sumner, and a few other businesses sprouted up along the shores of Oak Harbor around 1852. The pioneers relied entirely on water transportation until the 1900s. Before there was regular transport to Oak Harbor, steamers and freighters carried passengers and freight from the Island to the mainland and back as well as Fidalgo Island to the north.
Irish settlers came in the late 1850s, making Oak Harbor grow and prosper as they fished and farmed the area. A wave of Dutch settlers, and progenitors of the city’s Dutch heritage arrived in the 1890s. Churches, schools, and more businesses followed the arrival of the Dutch. A high school was built in 1906. Oak Harbor flourished as a small country town until Deception Pass Bridge and the U.S. Navy Base connected the city to the rest of the region and the world.
Deception Pass Bridge, a National Historic Monument since 1982, is actually two spans that link Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island over Canoe Pass and Deception Pass. The bridge, one of the scenic wonders and destinations of the Pacific Northwest, was a Public Works Administration project built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Oak Harbor offers all the typical amenities you would expect from a rural Washington city, including fast food, chain stores, and other remnant of popular American civilization. Along the historic downtown Pioneer District, you’ll find a strong presence for locally crafted goods, and the arts.
Oak Harboris home to several popular annual events, including Oak Harbor Music festival, Holland Happening, and the 4th of July Independance Day Fair. You can learn more about these events on our Whidbey Island Festivals Calendar.
You can learn more about Oak Harbor at the following links.