Fidalgo Island is an island in Skagit County, Washington, located about 78 miles (126 km) north of Seattle. To the east, it is separated from the mainland by the Swinomish Channel, and from Whidbey Island to the south by Deception Pass. The island is named after the Spanish explorer and cartographer Salvador Fidalgo who explored the area in 1790.
Its largest city is Anacortes with a population of 14,557 according to the 2000 Census. The total population of the island was 20,700. There are ferries to Sidney, British Columbia and several ports in the San Juan Islands.
Fidalgo Island has a land area of 106.684 km² (41.19 sq mi). There are at least eight major lakes on Fidalgo Island: Campbell, Little Cranberry, Erie, Heart, Mud, Pass, Trafton/Crater, and Whistle.
Fidalgo Island is named for the Spanish explorer and cartographer Salvador Fidalgo who explored the area in 1790 with the fleet of Francisco de Eliza. Charles Wilkes discovered that it was an island rather than part of the mainland. He named it Perry Island in honor of Oliver Hazard Perry, the American commander who won the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Following this theme, Wilkes named the island's highest point Mount Erie. When Henry Kellett reorganized the official British Admiralty charts in 1847, he removed Wilkes' name Perry and bestowed the name Fidalgo to honor the Spanish explorer. The highest point retained the name Erie.
Settlement peaked in the 1850s due to the Fraser River Gold Rush and in 1890 due to speculation that the area would become a terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Later the island became an important fishing and lumber center.
From 1924 to 1935, Fidalgo Island was linked to Whidbey Island by the Deception Pass ferry, which was superseded in 1935 by the construction of the Deception Pass Bridge. Today, Fidalgo Island is the site of the main ferry terminal that links the San Juan Islands to the rest of the State.
- Morris Graves, painter
- Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 125.
- Phillips, James W. (1971). Washington State Place Names. University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-95158-3.
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