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Catalog Number D.I.008.003
Caption Amos Bowman
Description Amos Bowman, 1839-1894, founder of Anacortes. Bowman was a native of Ontario and a highly educated man. After earning a mining and civil engineering degree in Germany, he led the California State Geological Survey for four years. By 1876 he was in the Seattle area surveying for railroad interests and thus became acquainted with Fidalgo Island. The 4-13-1877 DAILY PACIFIC TRIBUNE reported, "Railroad Building ... Mr. Amos Bowman of this city, is now in Olympia working up a plan to construct the Olympia, Tenino Railroad. He claims to do it cheaply putting down a new light rail that will support a 20 ton locomotive running at 20 mph and saving more than 3 and 4 thousand dollars a mile as compared with heavy ordinary rail." The 8-24-1878 WASHINGTON STANDARD reported that a patent for that "light rail" had been issued to Bowman for his new railroad track. By 1877 Bowman was on Fidalgo Island, convinced of the area's potential as a great port and terminus of the transcontinental railroad. He built a store and small wharf on his land on the Guemes Channel, acreage he had purchased from Maude Stevens, daughter of Washington's first territorial governor. The Anacortes Post Office opened in November 1879, and he named it for his wife Anna Curtis Bowman. By combining her first and maiden name, and slightly altering the spelling, he devised Anacortes. He launched the island's first newspaper, NORTHWEST ENTERPRISE, in March 1882. That same year he purchased a schooner named FIDALGO TRAVELER to haul goods, as well as machinery for starting a sawmill.
When the railroad boom of 1883 bypassed Anacortes, Bowman devoted his energies elsewhere. The NORTHWEST ENTERPRISE articles of 1882-1886 frequently mention Bowman being elsewhere, primarily in Canada or at his property at Sumas. 3-22-1884, "Amos Bowman of the Dominion Geological Survey ... left Anacortes on Monday for [his] field of operation on the Geological Survey in British Columbia." 12-20-1884, "Amos Bowman returned from Victoria on Tuesday and started for Ottawa on Wed." 7-25-1885, "Amos Bowman serves as mining and civil engineer for the Dominion Geological Survey." 10-31-1885, "Amos Bowman has removed his family to Sumas where they will remain during part of the winter." When the impending railroad boom of 1889-1890 geared up, Bowman returned to Anacortes and worked to ensure that his town would become a railroad terminus. He also built a hotel, which burned to the ground in December 1891. See WF 0044, 0045. The 1-11-1890 ANACORTES PROGRESS reported, "Mr. Amos Bowman has placed a portion of his business property in the hands of Crawford and Johnson who will be ready in a few days to sell real estate to all." Once again, the railroad dashed his hopes; following the collapse of the boom, and the Panic of 1893 which crushed his town's fortunes, Bowman died at his home on Cap Sante at the age of 54 on 6-18-1894. He was buried in Fern Hill Cemetery, and later exhumed and moved to Grandview Cemetery.
Bowman's mother, sister, and brother Dr. A. C. Bowman, also moved to Fidalgo Island for a time during the 1880s and established their home at Hygeia, near Rosario. The 4-19-1884 NORTHWEST ENTERPRISE reported, "Mrs. Mary Bowman and her daughter arrived from Whatcom. Mrs. Bowman will occupy her ranch adjoining that of Dr. Bowman at Deception Pass." For more information on Bowman, see FIRST VIEWS: AN EARLY HISTORY OF SKAGIT COUNTY, chapter 3.
Date 1880s c.
Photographer Unknown
Subjects People
People BOWMAN, Amos
Place Anacortes, WA
Search Terms railroad
light rail
post office
Fidalgo Traveler
Geological Survey
mining and civil engineer
Fern Hill Cemetery
Grandview Cemetery
Deception Pass
Object Name Print, Photographic