Coupeville Wharf

Warf - Port of Coupeville Harbor Gifts and Art Gallery / Coffee on the Cove / Penn Cove Outfitters and Kayak Rental

Video produced by 4-H

Before 1905, There were several early wharves at Penn Cove in the latter half of the 1800s that had been built for passenger travel and importing and exporting products between the island and the mainland. The problem with these early wharves was that most could only be used at extreme high tide. Historical records are sketchy, but the following wharfs are known to have existed, including: Robertson's Wharf, Happy Jack’s, and Pearson Wharf (see #20 NW Front Street).

Activation of Fort Casey in 1901 brought a larger population quickly to Central Whidbey.

1905 - 1905, to accommodate the growth, local merchants and farmers built a 500 foot wharf at the foot of Alexander Street to accommodate the growth of population and commerce. This wharf is the current wharf in Coupeville.

Sanborn Map
1909 - The configuration existing today was shown on the Sanborn Fire Insurance map.

1909-1914 - Elmer Calhoun purchased the Wharf sometime between 1909 and 1914 (sources differ on this point). After purchasing it he added a grain tower to the "L" shaped building. The north side of the building included a waiting room and a rest room "a two holer that flushed with the tide", for steam boat passengers.

Wharf Pessengers
Passengers at Wharf
Passengers Disembark

1933 - Elmer Calhoun made major repairs to the Wharf building.

Wharf Repair
Repairs. Note the two grain elevators.

1936 - The Deception Pass Bridge was completed. Consequently, Island Transportation discontinued steamboat service to Seattle in 1936 as the little steamers were no longer cost effective. The last steamer to run the Whidbey Island route was the ALANTA.

Freight boats continued to use the Wharf during harvest season.

Wharf Repair
The Whidbey. A regular ferry to Coupeville Wharf.

1949 - Dick Hansen purchased the Wharf from Elmer Calhoun for $10,000 and renamed it the "Coupeville Wharf & Seed Company".

Coupeville Wharf and Seed.
Coupeville Wharf and Seed.

1969 - Larger bin capacity was needed, so an extension was put up through the roof called "the dog house".

1978 - The Wharf became part of the Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve, the first historic district of its kind recognized in the U.S.

1983 - A new rock bulkhead was installed at the head of the pier.

1985 - The grain tower was removed and the causeway was renovated. The east end remodeled for use as a marine store and delicatessen.

1986 - It became part of the Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve, the first historic district of its kind recognized in the U.S.

1996 - The Wharf was rehabilitated consistent with historical code standards and historical considerations. A concrete fuel dock was added to the wharf and an underground fuel tank was installed at the landward end of the causeway. Three mooring floats were attached to the Wharf for the use of pleasure boats.

Wharf & Mt. Baker The wharf and mount Baker

1997 - The Port rebuilds the interior of the west wing and includes a large foyer and two rental areas. Wharf foyer One of the educational exhibits in the wharf foyer

2000 - The WA State Beach Watchers assembled "Rosie the Whale" from bones savaged from a 33 foot gray whale and it is displayed in the wharf’s foyer.

Coupeville Wharf and Seed.
"Rosie" the whale hangs in the wharf foyer
Courtesey: Robert Y Elphick, 2000

2001 - Two moorage floats were added and unused dolphins removed. Four mooring buoys were placed in a line west of the Wharf.

2011- Wharf facilities included:

2012 - QR diagrams added to the Wharf by a 4-H team to enable visitors to find online information about the wharf.

2018 - Wharf facilities included:

2019 - Wharf facilities include:

Cove Café
Cove Café
Courtesy: Gwen Samelson 2019
Coupeville Wharf and Seed.
Coupeville Wharf and Mount Baker
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick

An Interview with Roger Sherman about
the history of Coupeville Wharf

For an essay on the history of the Wharf by Roger Sherman Click here. It is 1.9 Mbytes.