In 1902, Lake Samish was called “Bluff.” It had a post office, flag station on the Great Northern Railway. There were three shingle mills, a coal deposit, and telephone connection. A schoolhouse was built near the Humphries home and political meeting were held there.

Other early homesteaders were: Fred & Alta Wefer, Ed & Lois Weir, Ralph Squires and Jack Bullock. Other people living around the lake were: A. Ager, J.E. & J.M Ager, Wm. Ager, George Allen, Gus Antson, Willard Burnside, Wm. Eglinton, J.W. Flynn, A. Greiner, Charles Hager, Charles Halderman, N.B. Hatch, M. Hilton, L. Jenkins, J.C. Leslie, Wm. Loveland, Wm. McGinnett, Edward McMaster, George Mays, A.L. Medhurst, A.C. Milne, E.J. Milne, Charles Nihert, Chris Nulle, Ruchard Nulle, W.D. Nulle, W.L parks, Wm. Patterson, Wm. Redwine, J. Reid, Robert Sanderson, A.M. Smith, W.R. Taylor, Oscar Waite, and Ewart Wright.

Other notable happenings on Lake Samish were:

  • Manley and Sons Shingle Mill [originally built and owned by Hamilton], was the first mill on the lake and was located on east side of Lake Samish. Hamilton sold to the owners of a grocery store on the North Side. They later sold to Manley in 1896. Manley Mill was later sold to Sash and Door Company.

  • Samish Lake Coal Company (1890)

  • Samish Lake Milling & Lumber Company (1889). Started and organized by Jim Wardner (major stockholder) and J. H. Bloedel. John Donovan was the manager.

  • Old Walla Walla – first tugboat on Lake Samish.

  • Lake Samish School (1916?) Alta Wefer was teacher from 1916 – 1922.

  • Samish Fish Hatchery

  • Fairhaven & Southern Railroad Company – in 1889, John Donovan built a line south from Fairhaven by way of Lake Samish down Friday Creek to just below the Samish Fish Hatchery, then easterly along the north side of Jarman Prairie and on into Sedro Woolley, It was the first permanent, conventional passenger and freight railroad in the county. Ownership soon passed to the Great Northern Line.

Contributions and excerpts taken from:

Discovering Lake Samish


William H. Harris, Whatcom County Probate Judge from 1883 – 1889, along with Charley Barnes has been credited with "discovering" Lake Samish.

Harris divided his time between law, official duties and ranching in Whatcom [Bellingham]. As a probate judge he handled homestead and pre-emption filings and often went with the applicants to locate their claims. Thus he became knowledgeable of the county timber, soil, streams, lakes, animal and bird life.

In March, 1885, Charley Barnes, a Montana friend, came to Whatcom to find a homestead. Harris made several trips with Barnes walking all over the county. In the last week in March 1885, Barnes and Harris decided to explore the Lake Samish area. They took no food or camping outfit expecting to find lodging and meals with settlers. They went past “Dirty” Dan Harris’ ranch in Fairhaven, by John Connelly’s homestead in Happy Valley to a cabin at Lake Padden.

Two weeks later they returned to Lake Samish with food, equipment and a compass. They remained several days – "running lines, locating section corner and quarter stakes." They selected two claims of 160 acres each fronting the lake on opposite sides. Barnes took the side nearest Whatcom [Bellingham]. In order to cross the lake they "made a rude craft, propelled with clumsy paddles, fashioned with an axe from poles." Then they returned to Whatcom and filed their claims with James F. Cass, Court Clerk.

Harris and Barnes made frequent trips to Lake Samish, carrying on the backs provisions, tools and camp equipment. They began to build Barnes’ cabin. On the opposite shore of Lake Samish where a creek came down from the hills, in a group of cedars, Harris built his home. During 1885, Harris continued at intervals the improvement of his claim. Barnes assisted him. By April 1886, he had an acre cleared, leaving the finest trees by the lake.

Wendell Wright moved to Lake Samish with his family in 1896. His father, Rev. J.C. Wright was a preacher, his mother [no name given], his brothers Edgar, York, Stanley, Newell and a sister – Harriet.


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Lake Samish Association

The purpose of the Lake Samish Association is to promote, encourage, protect and enhance the social, public safety and environmental qualities of life in the greater Lake Samish basin and adjacent interdependent areas.

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