Oak Harbor, Washington
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History of Oak Harbor, Washington

Oak Harbor's history goes back to the early 1850s, when three settlers staked claims where the city now stands - Martin Tafton, a shoemaker from Norway; C.W. Sumner from New England, and Ulrich Freund, a Swiss Army officer. Freund retained part of his claim, which today is home to his descendants.

Houses and businesses sprouted up along the shores of Oak Harbor as the pioneers relied entirely on water transportation until the 1900s. For the next thirty years, steamers and freighters carried passengers and freight from the Island to the mainland and back.

The Irish came in the late 1850s, making Oak Harbor grow and prosper as they fished and farmed the area. The city's Dutch heritage arrived in the 1890s when Hollanders were disillusioned with the northern Midwest U.S. and came to Whidbey Island.

Churches, schools, and more businesses followed the arrival of the Hollanders. Oak Harbor flourished as a small country town until Deception Pass Bridge was built in 1935 and the U.S. Navy Base was completed in 1942, connecting the city to the rest of the world.

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