Step back in time on a tour of Camano Island’s historic sites

Activities begin at 6 p.m. Friday with history talks. Tours are Saturday and Sunday.

CAMANO ISLAND — The buses are set to leave Camano Center twice a day Saturday and Sunday.

They’ll take passengers on a tour of locations around an island rich in local history. The trips are expected to last about two and a half hours, starting at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. both days. Reservations should be made online at

The charter buses are new this year for the second Camano Island Historic Sites Tour, a weekend-long event.

Activities begin at 6 p.m. Friday with history talks. One is at the Cama Center at Cama Beach State Park about the building of Camano Island State Park and the National Grange Award. The other talk, about an art colony on Camano in the early 1900s, is at the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center in Stanwood.

On Saturday and Sunday, more than a dozen historic sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for public access. There also will be downtown walking tours in Stanwood, a big band dance, butter churning demonstrations and docent-led tours of historic buildings. The venues include schoolhouses, barns, churches and parks. Many have been preserved, restored and protected by locals.

There are generations of knowledge at many of the sites, said Gayle Picken, with 66Events and Marketing. For example, she said, the granddaughter of a former student has worked to gather information on a century-old schoolhouse, and a former lawmaker is following in her grandmother’s and mother’s footsteps at Utsalady Ladies Aid.

“Having that personal connection adds another layer of interest that you couldn’t get by just looking at the building or by reading a history book,” Picken said.

She went on last year’s tour and noted that families seemed to be enjoying themselves as they talked with experts at different sites. There were several hundred people who participated in the first historic tours event, she said.

Organizers of the event gathered feedback last year. They learned that people couldn’t get to all of the sites in one day, so guided bus tours were added, said Chuck Durland, who has been working to coordinate the event. The map was popular last year, so that design didn’t change. A few Stanwood sites were added to the history tour, expanding it beyond Camano Island.

Overall, visitors seemed interested enough in last year’s tour to make it an annual event, Durland said in an email.

“Many people commented that they had never been inside some of the historic sites and were pleased to see what had been done to preserve them,” he said.

Among the locations to be highlighted this weekend are: The Floyd, Camano Lutheran Church, Kristoferson Farm, the Camano City and Mabana schoolhouses, Camano Pioneer Cemetery, Camano Island Inn, Utsalady Ladies Aid, South Camano Grange, several county parks and the island’s two state parks. In Stanwood, the Sons of Norway Hall, Our Saviors Lutheran Church and the Stanwood House also will be open.

People who have driven by these historic buildings but never stopped inside can “step back in time,” Picken said.

Island Transit also is providing printed guides for the historic sites on its bus routes, and brochures and schedules are available at each of the tour locations.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

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