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Catalog Number WF 0586
Caption Ferry approaching Cornet Bay from Dewey
Description View of ferry Deception Pass landing at Cornet Bay ferry dock on northeast end of Whidbey Island. There is a faint view of Dewey and Mt. Erie in rear. Ferry service began here in 1913 when Fred Finsen, Cornet Bay postmaster, constructed a barge-like ferry that he towed across the pass between Dewey and Cornet Bay; see WF 0598. On 5-16-1913, the ISLAND COUNTY TIMES editor reported on his visit to Finsen's ferry, "He has the scow built which will carry as much as four autos across. Skagit County has not fixed up road on other side which is to connect with ferry landing near Dewey ... Mr. Finsen has considerable courage to put his capital into a proposition of this kind." Finsen published his ferry rates in the 6-6-1913 ISLAND COUNTY TIMES:
7-passenger auto and driver $2.50
5-passenger auto and driver $2.00
small auto and driver $1.50
1 horse, buggy and driver $1.50
Passengers 25 cents each
Sunday excursion rates 1 1/2 fare for round trip
Horses, 1-4 in number $2.00
Horses, 5 or more 50 cents each
Cattle, 1-4 $2.00
Animals, 5 or more 50 cents each

By 1918 John Lang was operating the ferry. In 1920 Berte Olson bought the line and telegraphed her husband Augie in Alaska to return from fishing to help run the ferry. During the early 1920s, they used their launch RAINBOW and the launch FAVORITE (owned by their partner R. Neil) to tow scows to carry autos and trucks across the pass. In 1922 they commissioned L. H. Coolidge of Seattle to build a ferry big enough to carry twelve Model T Fords. He built the boat pictured here, DECEPTION PASS, at Henry Fryverg's in Ballard; it was 64' long with a 24' beam. They charged 50 cents for a car and 10 cents for passengers. The Olson's ferry was a lifeline to the Whidbey Island community, particularly in times of medical emergency as the island lacked a hospital. Many elderly residents recalled it in their oral histories taken for Ebey's Landing National Historic Registry (NHR); see ELNHR oral history subject index. The Olsons also actively promoted the boat with the tourist trade. The 7-11-1930 ISLAND COUNTY TIMES reported in an article titled "Deception Ferry Busy", "Whidbey Island is growing to be more of a tourist paradise from week to week reports Mrs. Agnes Olson of the Deception Pass ferry line ...[which is] doing much to call attention to the Island." According to the article, the Olsons established rhododendron parks on Whidbey (near Penn Cove) and gave their passengers free tickets entitling them to pick any quantity of our state flower in the parks. The Olsons also vehemently opposed the construction of the Deception Pass Bridge, often personally lobbying in Olympia. The 4-10-1930 ISLAND COUNTY TIMES reported, "Ferry line is defended". Mrs. Olson is quoted in the article about her lobbying efforts in Olympia. Olson maintained "her family had all they owned invested in the ferry and stood to lose the entire amount of $30,000 if the bridge were built. She maintained that when bridges were built across the Columbia River, ferry owners were compensated. She's not anti-bridge, just trying to fight for preservation of the savings of a lifetime." According to the Olson's son, Gil, his parents "received only token payment for the loss of their livelihood." See WF 2200, 3294, 3298. After the bridge's construction Berte Olson moved to Hood Canal and ran the ferry at Shine; she became known as "Tugboat Annie". For more on the Olsons, see p. 34 of the Wallie Funk special publication "Deception Pass Bridge 50th Anniversary," published by the WHIDBEY NEWS-TIMES on 7-24-1985.
Date 1930 c.
Photographer Unknown
Collection Wallie Funk Collection
Subjects Transportation - Maritime
Place - Whidbey Island
Transportation - Land
Credit line Donated by Wallie Funk, Wallie Funk Collection
Place Whidbey Island, WA
Search Terms Dewey Ferry
Cornet Bay Ferry
Yokeko Point
tourist trade
rhododendron parks
Penn Cove
Deception Pass Bridge
Tugboat Annie
Object Name Print, Photographic