Island County Timeline

40,000-10,000 BC Paleo-Indians arrive in Pacific Northwest.
1300 - 1850s Skagit, Snohomish, Kikialos, and Clallam clans of the Salish Nation inhabit Whidbey and Camano Islands.
1543 Pacific Northwest claimed by Spain
1592 Discovery of Strait of Juan de Fuca claimed by Juan de Fuca
1579 The Washington coast is sighted by Sir Francis Drake and claimed for England
1774 Juan Perez commands the first Spanish expedition to explore the Northwest Coast and sights the Olympic Mountains
1775 Bruno de Hezeta lands on the Washington coast and claims the area for Spain
1778 James Cook (British) explores and charts the Northwest Coast
1792 June 10.  Captain George Vancouver compiles the first truly extensive maps of the Northwest coastline.  He names Whidbey Island for Joseph Whidbey (1755-1833), Master of the HMS Discovery.
1805 Captains William Clark and Meriwether Lewis reach what is today part of the Washington State during their Corps of Discovery's Transcontinental Expedition of the lands west of the Missouri River.
1818 United States and Great Britain agree to joint occupation of the Oregon Territory.
1841 The Puget Sound, Grays Harbor and portions of eastern Washington explored by the Wilkes Expedition/ (Lieutenant Charles Wilkes was U.S. Navy officer with a scientific background).
1844 James K. Polk becomes President of the United States. Among his four goals is the designation of the Oregon Territory's northern border to extend to 54' 40", even if through an act of war.
1846 Treaty between United States and Great Britain sets boundary at 49th parallel
1847 Camano Island given its present name for the Spanish explorer Jacinto Caamano Moraleia, leader of the last Hispanic exploration of Alaska.
1848 "Oregon" --the Pacific Northwest--becomes an official U.S. territory.

Thomas W. Glasgow, first white settler on Whidbey Island files a claim on what would later become Ebey's Prairie.

1850 Oregon Donation Land Act
1851 February 4.  Oregon Territorial Legislature creates Pacific County on the north side near the Columbia River's mouth.

August 29. Settlers meet at Cowlitz Landing to discuss the establishment of a new territory north of the Columbia River.

1852 January 12.  Thurston County created by the Oregon Territorial Legislature with boundaries extending from the northern boundaries of the Pacific and Lewis counties, north to the Canadian border, east to the Cascades and west to the Pacific Ocean.  The county seat was established at Olympia.

November 25.  Settlers meet again at Monticello (present-day Longview, Washington) and draft a memorial to Congress requesting the establishment of a new territory north of the Columbia River, to be named "Columbia Territory."  Oregon Territorial Governor Joseph Lane and the Oregon Territorial legislature support the memorial and forward it to Congress.

1853 January 6.  Island County formed from Thurston County.  It was named for the many islands within its boundaries and is the only county in the United States named “Island.” The bill creating the county would have passed earlier, but there was much discussion in the legislature about its name. Amendments to name it Atchison, Calhoun and Webster were introduced, discussed and defeated.  Its boundaries covered today's Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, and San Juan counties.  Coveland was the county seat.

March 2.  Congress creates Washington Territory in honor of the "Father of the Country," George Washington. It extends east to the Rocky Mountains, and includes all of present-day Washington, (current-day) western Idaho and (current-day) western Montana.  The law was known as the Organic Act and served as the basis for law in Washington until the Territory became a state in 1889.

NOTE: Island County is no longer under the jurisdiction of Oregon Territory.

April 4.  Island County's first Commissioner's meeting takes place in Coveland. 

Coupeville established

1854 March 9.  Whatcom County created out of Island County by the Washington Territorial Legislature taking present day San Juan and Skagit Counties.
1855 First white settlers on Camano Island.
1858 Admiralty Head lighthouse built.
1859 Oregon becomes a state.
1861 January 14.  Snohomish County created out of Island County
1862 The Homestead Act is passed, providing 160 acres of surveyed but unclaimed public land to each citizen.  Title is awarded if resided on and improvements made after five years.
1881 March 3.  Coupeville replaces Coveland as county seat
1889 Washington granted statehood.
1890 Langley platted.
1900 January 12.  Freeland incorporated.

U.S. Army assumes command of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse.

1901 Fort Casey on Whidbey Island, Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island, and Fort Worden at Point Wilson formed a "Triangle of Fire," creating fortified harbor defenses of Puget Sound.
1903 Admiralty Head Lighthouse rebuilt.
1911 Island Transportation Company founded.
1913 Langley incorporated.
1915 Oak Harbor incorporated.
1920 Fire destroys much of Oak Harbor
1929-1939 Great Depression
1941 Navy construction units arrive to build a naval air station on Whidbey Island
1942 Ault Field, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island commissioned
1942 Fort Ebey built
1949 Camano Island State Park established.