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La Conner, Washington

Coordinates: 48°23′26″N 122°29′44″W / 48.39056°N 122.49556°W / 48.39056; -122.49556
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La Conner
La Conner, Washington
Location of La Conner, Washington
Location of La Conner, Washington
Coordinates: 48°23′26″N 122°29′44″W / 48.39056°N 122.49556°W / 48.39056; -122.49556
CountryUnited States
Named forLouisa Ann Conner
 • Total0.48 sq mi (1.25 km2)
 • Land0.40 sq mi (1.03 km2)
 • Water0.08 sq mi (0.22 km2)
56 ft (17 m)
 • Total965
 • Density2,384.42/sq mi (919.98/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP Code
Area code360
FIPS code53-36780[2]
GNIS feature ID1534592[3]

La Conner is a town in Skagit County, Washington, United States with a population of 965 at the 2020 census. It is included in the Mount VernonAnacortes, Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area. The town hosts several events as part of the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival held in April.


La Conner, c. 1889

La Conner was first settled in May 1867 by Alonzo Low and was then known by its post office name, Swinomish. Its location on the Swinomish channel was an ideal safe harbor for ships. In 1869, J.S. Conner bought the settlement's trading post and in 1870 had the name changed to honor his wife, Louisa Ann Conner. The French-appearing "La" represented her first and middle initials. When Skagit County was created out of Whatcom County in 1883, La Conner was chosen as the county seat, but would only hold that designation until November 1884 when the seat was moved to Mount Vernon.[4]

In early 2020, nine businesses in downtown La Conner announced their closures—mostly attributed to lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic and from the cancellation of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.[5]


La Conner is located along the Swinomish Channel, across from the Swinomish Indian Reservation on Fidalgo Island, in western Skagit County. The Rainbow Bridge, a steel arch bridge, connects La Conner to the Swinomish Indian Reservation.[6] The town is north of Skagit Bay and is connected to nearby highways by local roads.[7] The center of town, known as "the Hill",[citation needed] roughly bounded by Second, Morris and Commercial streets and the Swinomish Channel, is a historic district and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[citation needed]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.51 square miles (1.32 km2), of which, 0.41 square miles (1.06 km2) is land and 0.10 square miles (0.26 km2) is water.[8]

Part of downtown La Conner, with the Swinomish Channel behind it. Rainbow Bridge at left, fishing port on the Swinomish Reservation across the channel.
A roughly 220° view of the Swinomish Channel, near downtown La Conner. Pier 7 can be seen at right.


La Conner is located at the edge of the Skagit Valley, the largest tulip-growing region in the world and host of an annual tulip festival in April. Other crops grown in the area include strawberries and wheat.[citation needed]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

As of 2000 the median income for a household in the town was $42,344, and the median income for a family was $52,083. Males had a median income of $40,074 versus $26,875 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,308. About 8.8% of families and 11.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.3% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 census,[10] there were 891 people, 467 households, and 224 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,173.2 inhabitants per square mile (839.1/km2). There were 526 housing units at an average density of 1,282.9 per square mile (495.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 87.1% White, 0.7% African American, 5.1% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 3.4% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.2% of the population.

There were 467 households, of which 18.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.6% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 52.0% were non-families. Of all households 45.8% were made up of individuals, and 24.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.91 and the average family size was 2.70.

The median age in the town was 52.8 years. Of all residents 16.8% were under the age of 18; 4.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 18.3% were from 25 to 44; 34.5% were from 45 to 64; and 26.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 45.1% male and 54.9% female.


La Conner's Rainbow Bridge crossing the Swinomish Channel

La Conner's Rainbow bridge connects La Conner to Fidalgo Island, which includes the gated Shelter Bay Community, the Swinomish reservation, and the city of Anacortes. The center of town—roughly bounded by 2nd, Morris, and Commercial streets and Swinomish Channel—is a historic district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Also on the NRHP is the Bethsaida Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church Parsonage east of town.

Notable residents[edit]

Author Tom Robbins is a long-time resident of La Conner. Many of his books, most notably Another Roadside Attraction, have chapters set in the vicinity.

Pacific Northwest photographer Art Hupy (1924–2003) settled in La Conner in 1977 and founded the Museum of Northwest Art in 1981. Many influential Northwest artists including Guy Anderson,[11] Clayton James, and Barbara Straker James have close ties to La Conner.

Radical labor activist Hulet M. Wells (1878–1970), a 1912 Socialist candidate for mayor of Seattle, president of the Seattle Central Labor Council, and founder in 1931 of the Unemployed Citizens' League of Seattle was born in a cabin near La Conner, where his Canadian-born parents homesteaded in 1877.[12] Jailed at McNeil Island Penitentiary for his opposition to World War I, Wells was one of the leading public faces of Washington radicalism during the first decades of the 20th century.

Joe Shell (born in La Conner in 1918) is a former member and floor leader of the California State Assembly and was the intraparty opponent of Richard M. Nixon for the California Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1962. His father was an Indian agent at the time on the Swinomish Reservation.

In addition to these, there is also Brian Cladoosby. He has been the Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Senate from 1997 onward. In 2013 he was elected to be the (21st) President of the National Congress of American Indians and still serves today, as well as being the President of the Association of Washington Tribes.[13]

Arts and culture[edit]

"The Old Fir Log" display on First Street includes this timeline of historic events.

The Museum of Northwest Art showcases a permanent collection of northwest artists and revolving shows throughout the year. The town is also home to the Skagit Historical Museum,[14] with perhaps the best view in town, and the Quilt Museum,[15] located in one of the oldest homes in town, the Gaches Mansion.

The town of La Conner is home to several fine art galleries, including La Conner Seaside Gallery, Forum Arts, Earthenworks, and Alek's Art Studio. Visual artists, painters, and photographers have also worked from spaces in and around La Conner, including Northwest School members Guy Anderson,[11] Morris Graves, and Richard Gilkey.[citation needed] Fishtown, an informal artists' community housed in a cluster of old cabins and fishing shacks on the north fork of the Skagit River delta, housed many artists from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s.[citation needed]

Also famous for its many feral domestic turkeys, the town named the turkey as their "Official Town Bird in 2005".[16][17] On August 8, 2006; however, a debate was heard in town council about whether the birds should be removed because of nuisance complaints about noise, fecal matter, and ingestion of garden materials.[18] As of October 2010, the town council declared the turkeys to be a nuisance and has since taken action to have them removed from the town limits.

La Conner's public library, which is run by the town government and serves residents of the local school district, opened on November 26, 1993, at a former storefront.[19] Plans to construct a permanent library were announced in 2012 with a ten-year fundraising campaign. Construction on the new library began in October 2021 and was completed the following year at a cost of $5 million. The 5,500-square-foot (510 m2) building opened on October 18, 2022, and includes community spaces, a rooftop solar array, and signage in English, Spanish, Braille, and Lushootseed.[20][21]

Sister cities[edit]

La Conner has the following sister cities.[22]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ Meany, Edmond S. (1920). "Origin of Washington Geographic Names". The Washington Historical Quarterly. XI. Washington University State Historical Society: 52. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  5. ^ Allison, Jacqueline (July 19, 2020). "La Conner downtown losing nine businesses". Skagit Valley Herald. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  6. ^ Pyle, Trevor (December 30, 2020). "Locals hope Rainbow Bridge lights make La Conner more of a draw". Skagit Valley Herald. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  7. ^ Washington State Department of Transportation (2014). Washington State Highways, 2014–2015 (PDF) (Map). 1:842,000. Olympia: Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  9. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  10. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Tarzan, Deloris (July 11, 1982). "Skagit magic feeds the soul". The Seattle Times. p. E4. Not until Guy Anderson became a La Conner resident did the artist feel that he hit his full stride as a painter
  12. ^ Terry R. Willis, Unemployed Citizens of Seattle: Hulet Wells, Seattle Labor, and the Struggle for Economic Security. PhD dissertation. Seattle: University of Washington, 1997; pg. 3.
  13. ^ "President Brian Cladoosby | NCAI". www.ncai.org. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014.
  14. ^ Skagit Historical Museum
  15. ^ Quilt Museum
  16. ^ YouTube - La Conner Town Turkeys
  17. ^ "No fowl weather here: La Conner's turkeys steal the spotlight". November 10, 2007.
  18. ^ Laconner.net Archived June 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "About". La Conner Library Foundation. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  20. ^ Gullett, Courtney (May 28, 2022). "La Conner Swinomish Library expected to be completed in the fall". Skagit Valley Herald. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  21. ^ Fletcher-Frazer, Emma (December 3, 2022). "La Conner library opens to warm reception". Skagit Valley Herald. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  22. ^ Sister Cities, States, Counties & Ports Archived September 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Laconner.net Archived June 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]