Lummi Island

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Lummi Island
Lummi Island locator map.svg
Lummi Island
LocationPuget Sound
Coordinates48°41′N 122°40′W / 48.683°N 122.667°W / 48.683; -122.667Coordinates: 48°41′N 122°40′W / 48.683°N 122.667°W / 48.683; -122.667
Area23.97 km2 (9.25 sq mi)
United States
Whatcom County, Washington
Population905 (2019)
Aerial view of Lummi Island.
View from Lummi Island.

Lummi Island lies at the southwest corner of Whatcom County, Washington, United States, between the mainland part of the county and offshore San Juan County. The Lummi Indian Reservation is situated on a peninsula east of the island, but does not include Lummi Island. The island has a land area of 23.97 square kilometres (9.25 square miles) and had a population of 822 as of the 2000 census. The population nearly doubles in summer when property owners from both Canada and the U.S. arrive for summer fun and relaxation.

The island is accessible by a 20-car ferry, the Whatcom Chief, run by Whatcom County Public Works.[1] It is a 6-minute passage from Gooseberry Point on the mainland to the island.

Public education for island residents is provided by the Ferndale School District. It operates one elementary school (K-5) on the island, Beach Elementary School. Middle and high school students attend schools on the mainland.


The island was originally called Sa nam a o ("High Mountain")[2] and Skallaham by the native Lummi people. In 1792 Spanish explorers dubbed it Isla de Pacheco, and British colonists later called it McLoughlin Island. In 1853, the U.S. National Geodetic Survey charted the island as Lummi, naming it after the local tribe. Later British and Americans adopted this term.[3] Some theories suggest the name was derived from a Lummi-language word.[2]

The island's post office was established by the United States government in 1882. At that time the town and post office were named "Beach", but today island mail is addressed to "Lummi Island, Washington", though the Beach School and Beach Store Cafe retain the older name.

By 1919, the Nooksack Fish Packing Company also had a cannery on the Island at Sunrise Cove.

Lummi Island Quarry[edit]

A rock quarry on the island was operated intermittently, but major operations started in 1964. By 1990 the pit was 3 acres and mining rights were sold to James and Kyle Bride of Everett, Washington. The operation became Ace Rock, LLC in 1997, with the Brides, Dick Christopherson (Bremerton, Washington), and David Grainger (British Columbia, Canada). The underlying land was sold in 1999 to the Brides and Christopherson. In 2005, Valley View Sand and Gravel, Inc. (owned by the three families) assumed ownership of the land.

The Lummi Island Quarry itself operated until 2013 by Aggregates West, Inc. of Everson, owned by Grainger. Aggregates West went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, having defaulted in 2012 on $3.5 million in Frontier Bank (inherited by Union Bank) loans originated in 2005. Aggregates West offloaded barges of excavated rock at Bellingham, Anacortes, Everett, and Seattle). Only 10% of the output was used on the island by 2007. A land trust, Lummi Island Heritage Trust, became involved to purchase the land for reclamation and conservation purposes. The trust successfully purchased the 105 acres in 2015 for $1.08 million.[4][5][6] By 2019 the land trust named the area the Aiston Preserve, after the Aiston family that homesteaded the land in the 1940s.[7][8]


Lummi Island is best known for its unique reefnet salmon fishery, eclectic population of artists, picturesque seascapes, and rural setting. The island's narrow, scenic and winding roads are popular with bicyclers. A trail to Lummi Mountain takes hikers through the Baker Preserve to stunning high views of the San Juan and Gulf islands. The trail is maintained by the Lummi Island Heritage Trust.

Facilities on the island include one general store, two restaurants, several bed and breakfast houses, a small library, post office, fire station, one church, a Salvation Army camp, and a vintage 1919 elementary school. The historic Lummi Island Congregational Church has a quiet, wooded cemetery. The Beach Store Cafe is a popular local hangout with a small bar, and serves seafood and traditional café fare. The Willows Inn, which opened in 1910, has since 2010 been a fine dining restaurant under chef Blaine Wetzel, who co-owns it.[9] The restaurant features locally sourced ingredients, but employees have said its use of these is over-stated, and in 2017 the restaurant was fined by the United States Department of Labor and required to end its internship program.[10]


The island hosts a weekly farmers' market in the spring and summer, a chili festival in mid-July, and a Christmas party for island children.

Lummi Island is home to numerous artists who conduct studio tours on Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, and the second weekend in November.


The climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, with wet winters and dry summers. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Lummi Island has a marine west coast climate, abbreviated "Cfb" on climate maps.[11]


  1. ^ Lummi Island Ferry, Whatcom County Public Works, archived from the original on March 12, 2012
  2. ^ a b "Lummi Island History". Island Vacation Rentals. Archived from the original on February 5, 2005.
  3. ^ "A Very Brief History of Lummi Island and the Islanders". Friends of Island Library. 1998. Archived from the original on July 4, 2007.
  4. ^ Moench, Meredith (May 2013). "Aggregates West Goes Into Receivership to Avoid Bankruptcy". Whatcom Watch. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  5. ^ Moench, Meredith (August 2014). "What's Happened to the Lummi Island Quarry?". Whatcom Watch. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  6. ^ Relyea, Kie (October 8, 2015) [October 5, 2015]. "Land trust buys Lummi Island quarry site for $1.08 million". Bellingham Herald. Retrieved May 13, 2021. A number of other organizations are part of the project, according to trust officials. They include Whatcom County, which committed $400,000 toward the purchase; the Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant Program, which donated $600,000; and the Rose Foundation, which gave $100,000 to study what can be done to restore the property.
  7. ^ "Aiston Preserve — Lummi Island Heritage Trust". Lummi Island Heritage Trust. Retrieved 22 February 2020. Located on the southeast flank of Lummi Mountain, the property contains 105 acres of deep mossy forests and 4,000 feet of shoreline, with pocket beaches, eelgrass beds and Smugglers Cove. In recent years, a portion of the property was used as a rock quarry.
  8. ^ "Aiston Preserve history" (PDF). LIHT. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  9. ^ Rex-Johnson, Braiden (September 7, 2011) [September 3, 2011]. "Dinner is superbly home grown, served at the Willows Inn". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  10. ^ Moskin, Julia (April 29, 2021) [April 27, 2021]. "At Blaine Wetzel's Willows Inn, Employees Report Years of Workplace Abuse". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Climate Summary for Lummi Island

External links[edit]