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Ferndale

The site of the City of Ferndale was originally known to the Lummi Indians as Te-tas-um. Early white settlers called the area near the Nooksack River the lower crossing. to distinguish it from the principal crossing of the river at Everson.

Billy Clark, a Texan who came to the northwest during the Gold Rush, was the first resident of Ferndale. He lived here with his wife and family for over a decade.

When Billy sought to prove the ownership of his property, he was stunned to learn that he could not. Some years earlier, he had relinquished his American citizenship in order to be employed at the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Langley, Canada. 

Therefore, because he was now an English citizen, Billy Clark was not eligible to claim title to the property. He sought help from an old friend, Darius Rogers, who was employed at the Bellingham Coal Mine. 

Rogers promptly filed claim to the 174 acre site, which made him the first legal owner of the property. Billy Clark eventually left and built a new homestead at East Sound on Orcas Island.

When Rogers secured his claim in 1882, there were only a few white neighbors; Thomas Barrett, who lived by the lake that bears his name, Thomas Wynn and John Tennant, both with Native American wives, and perhaps a dozen other settlers in the area.

John Tennant helped. to organize the first school and establish the first church. Thomas Wynn established the first blacksmith shop and brought in the first wagon to the area. The settlement was now referred to as Jam. during this time due to a large log jam on the Nooksack River.

Most of the settlers of the area in the 1870s based their operations at locations near the river. There were no roads; meandering, muddy trails wound through the woods, and the people used the river as their highway.

In 1884, the Northwest Diagonal Road was opened up to Ferndale, and connected up with a road that ran through Custer to Blaine. Wooden plank roads were also developed to aid in travel through the muddy terrain. 

In 1886, the Guide Meridian Road was opened, but Whatcom County remained rustic and isolated until 1893, when the Great Northern built its railway line across the western part of the County, through Ferndale, to Blaine, and on to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Ferndale began its existence as a "town" under Washington law when it was incorporated in 1907.

2011 map showing the original alignment.

1927 map showing the 1915 and 1925 alignments.

1933 aerial showing the original bridge crossing.

1908 Pioneer festival in Ferndale. Showing Ezra Meeker's stand.

 


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