Home of the Historic Coupeville Wharf and Greenbank Farm in the Heart of Whidbey Island

Coupeville Wharf History

Before 1905, There were several early wharves at Penn Cove in the latter half of the 1800s that had been built for passenger travel and importing and exporting products between the island and the mainland. The problem with these early wharves was that most could only be used at extreme high tide. Historical records are sketchy, but the following wharfs are known to have existed, including: Robertson’s Wharf, Happy Jack’s, and Pearson Wharf.

Activation of Fort Casey in 1901 brought a larger population quickly to Central Whidbey.

1905 – 1905, to accommodate the growth, local merchants and farmers built a 500 foot wharf at the foot of Alexander Street to accommodate the growth of population and commerce. This wharf is the current wharf in Coupeville.

1909 - The configuration existing today was shown on the Sanborn Fire Insurance map.

1909-1914 – Elmer Calhoun purchased the Wharf sometime between 1909 and 1914 (sources differ on this point). After purchasing it he added a grain tower to the “L” shaped building. The north side of the building included a waiting room and a rest room “a two holer that flushed with the tide”, for steam boat passengers.

Passengers at Wharf
Passengers Disembark

1933 – Elmer Calhoun made major repairs to the Wharf building.

Repairs. Note the two grain elevators.

1936 – The Deception Pass Bridge was completed. Consequently, Island Transportation discontinued steamboat service to Seattle in 1936 as the little steamers were no longer cost effective. The last steamer to run the Whidbey Island route was the ALANTA.

Freight boats continued to use the Wharf during harvest season.

The Whidbey. A regular ferry to Coupeville Wharf.

1949 – Dick Hansen purchased the Wharf from Elmer Calhoun for $10,000 and renamed it the “Coupeville Wharf & Seed Company.”

Coupeville Wharf and Seed.

1969 – Larger bin capacity was needed, so an extension was put up through the roof called “the dog house”.

1978 – Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, the first historic district of its kind, is recognized in the U.S. and established through legislation.

1983 – A new rock bulkhead was installed at the head of the pier.

1985 – The grain tower was removed and the causeway was renovated. The east end remodeled for use as a marine store and delicatessen.

1988 – The Wharf became part of the Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.

1996 – The Wharf was rehabilitated consistent with historical code standards and historical considerations. A concrete fuel dock was added to the wharf and an underground fuel tank was installed at the landward end of the causeway. Three mooring floats were attached to the Wharf for the use of pleasure boats.

1997 – The Port rebuilds the interior of the west wing and includes a large foyer and two rental areas. Wharf foyer One of the educational exhibits in the wharf foyer

2000 – The WA State Beach Watchers assembled “Rosie the Whale” from bones savaged from a 33 foot gray whale and it is displayed in the wharf’s foyer.

"Rosie" the whale hangs in the wharf foyer.

2001 – Two moorage floats were added and unused dolphins removed. Four mooring buoys were placed in a line west of the Wharf.

2011 – Wharf facilities include

  • Whale watching trips in Saratoga Passage on the Victoria Clipper
  • Kim’s Cafe
  • Harbor Gift and Kayak Rental
  • Local Grown, including Whidbey Island Farm Foods, Espresso and Marine Supplies
  • Marine exhibits
  • Wharf in Spring
  • The Wharf in spring time

2012 – QR diagrams added to the Wharf by a 4-H team to enable visitors to find online information about the wharf.

2018 – Wharf facilities include

  • Restaurant
  • Harbor Gift and Kayak Rental
  • Salty Mug coffee shop
  • Marine exhibits
An Interview with Roger Sherman about
the history of Coupeville Wharf
Information provided by Island County 4-HD Club

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