Over the century of the Port of Everett’s existence, a waterfront once dominated by the world’s largest shingle mill has evolved to become the home of the West Coast’s largest public marina.
Its heritage, though, includes more than ships, docks, and shingle and lumber factories.
In the 1920s, the port opened an airport on the tip of Ebey Island. Aviators were guided to the spot by simple directions written on the roof of what was then North Junior High School at 25th Street and McDougall Avenue in Everett.
“If you’re driving along Highway 529, you cross over what would have been the runway when you’re northbound between Everett and Marysville,” said Karalynn Ott, primary researcher and writer of a new book, “Port of Everett: The First 100 Years.”
“Tiny nuggets like that were so much fun to uncover,” Ott said.
It’s just one example of the hidden pieces of history she and project manager Mary Jane Anderson discovered while writing the book. It took 18 months of research, meticulously sifting through 100 years of port meeting minutes and resolutions.
Everett voters approved the creation of a public port July 13, 1918. The election took place just 18 months after one of the most infamous events in the city’s history.
On Nov. 5, 1916, a confrontation at City Dock between the Industrial Workers of the World and deputized citizens during a shingle weavers’ strike left at least five union members and two deputies dead. It was the bloodiest labor confrontation in Pacific Northwest history.
The event soon came to be called the Everett Massacre. It took a century for a historic plaque describing the incident to be installed at the junction of Bond Street, Federal Avenue and Hewitt Avenue. The port history includes two pages of photos and text describing the massacre.
The port acquired its first properties — the 14th Street Dock, Jetty Island and Preston Point — in 1929.
The International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union was formed in 1937, with three of its locals now serving the port.
“I interviewed a longshoreman who was fourth generation who had worked at the port,” Ott said.
The manufacturer of Boeing’s 747, “the queen of the skies,” was a huge development for the port, Ott said. Those shipments were sent to Boeing on a rail line. In 2008, the port’s Mount Baker terminal was opened to accommodate the parts needed for the 777.
Now, an average of 62 ships and 48 barges come to the port annually, transporting inbound and outbound aerospace cargoes.
The port handles all the oversize ocean-going aerospace parts for the 747, 767, 777 and, most recently, 777X airplane production lines, said Catherine Soper, a port spokeswoman. Terminal upgrades are now under way to accommodate the larger cargo ships delivering parts for the 777X.
“We are also a backup facility for the 787 Dreamliner in the event those parts cannot be brought in via the Dreamlifter,” she said.
In 1994, Naval Station Everett opened on the 110 acres the port sold to the Navy in 1987.
With the port’s growth comes change. In 2010, board members decided to demolish the historic Collins building — over community protest — after hearing estimates that its renovation could cost $11.1 million.
The former casket company building was added to state and national historic registers as the last example of the type of industries that once lined the city’s waterfront.
More than 800 pieces of the building, mostly beams, timber and windows, were salvaged and auctioned. Some parts were used on historic preservation projects, including 15 in Washington, Ott said.
With the marina’s capacity for 2,300 boats, a 13-lane boat launch — the largest in Western Washington — and its waterfront restaurants, the port has become a recreational and tourist destination.
Jetty Island, with its long finger of sandy beach, and the free ferry service from July 5 through Labor Day, has developed into a favorite summer destination for both locals and visitors to the city.
“I’ve become so fond of the Port of Everett,” Ott said. “I think it’s really a gem that probably a lot of people drive by on I-5 and don’t even know what’s down there.”
Key dates in Port of Everett history
1918: On July 13, 1918, the public votes to create the Port of Everett to capture maritime work from World War I. The port’s boundaries cover most of the city of Everett and portions of the city of Mukilteo and unincorporated Snohomish County — boundaries which remain unchanged to this day.
1928: The Everett Airport, also known as the Ebey Island Airport, is dedicated. The site, a project of the port and Commercial Air Transport, is the first Snohomish County airport.
1929: The port acquires 14th Street Dock, Jetty Island and Preston Point from the Everett Improvement Co.
1930: Puget Sound Pulp and Timber Co. is built at the foot of 26th Street, beginning more than 80 years of paper production in Everett. The site is now the former Kimberly-Clark mill.
1937: Pacific Coast members of the American Federation of Labor’s International Longshoremen’s Union (ILA) form the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union. Today, ILWU Locals 32, 52 and 98 serve the port.
1951: The port approves $190,000 in bonds for the enlargement of Tract O (now 14th Street), the new commercial fishing moorage site.
1967: Boeing opens in Everett to build the 747 jumbo jet, spurs job growth.
1968: A dome structure is built near Pier 1 to store alumina ore imports. The dome now stores bulk cement.
1972: The port recognizes the need for a public boat launch, begins partnership for its launch with the city of Everett and Snohomish County. It also fills to create the site that is now Waterfront Place Central.
1980: The port completes an $18 million marina expansion, extending the Everett Yacht Basin with 1,200 new slips — now the South Marina.
1984: Marina Village is built, adds restaurants and businesses. Part of the property sits on footprints of the 1800s-era Clough-Hartley and Robinson mills.
1994: Naval Station Everett opens on the 110-acres the port sold to the Navy in 1987.
1996: The port embarks on a new five-year program of capital improvements and business diversification to create jobs and new sources of revenue after a more than 50 percent decline in log exports.
1998: The port buys old Weyerhaeuser Mill B property along the Snohomish River, with plans to create a new industrial park.
1999: Pacific Terminal is constructed to replace Norton Terminal, which was sold to the U.S. Navy in 1987. Container cranes are put into operation at the terminal in 2005.
2005: The port signs the first three shipping lines; today eight lines come to the port.
2007: The port opens a new 220-slip yacht basin, the newest marina facility built in the Puget Sound region in 20 years.
2008: Mount Baker Terminal opens for transport of aerospace cargo.
2010: The historic Collins Building is demolished; materials are salvaged for use in other historic structures.
2011: The port opens Waterfront Center and begins construction of the Craftsman District boatyard.
2016: Construction begins on Fisherman’s Harbor and Seaport Modernization.
Source: Port of Everett
“Port of Everett: The First 100 Years,” is for sale for $39.95 at The Daily Herald, 1800 41st St., Suite S-300, Everett.
Waterfront History Tours in partnership with Historic Everett include harbor tours from 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 26, Aug. 9, 16 and 23. Tours start and end at Jetty Landing, near the Port of Everett’s boat launch, at 10th Street and West Marine View Drive. A guide will share the port’s role in international trade, property development, boating and marina facilities, public access and recreation. Reservations required. More at portofeverett.com.
The Water Lantern Festival is 4 to 10 p.m. July 14 at the Port of Everett’s Boxcar Park, 1200 Millwright Loop W. LED lanterns will be launched into the water to float around the park, beginning at sunset. Bring notes and photos to place in a time capsule to commemorate the port’s 100th anniversary. There will be food, games, a photo booth, music and activities. More at waterlanternfestival.com.
Washington North Coast Magazine
This article is featured in the summer issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to www. washingtonnorthcoast.com for more information.