Semiahmoo spit lies just west of Blaine, in the northernmost tip of Washington state. The two are separated by only a few hundred meters of navigable water, yet this channel into Drayton Harbor has defined the towns as different entities since land was first broke around 1858. The spit is about 125 acres of land jutting between Drayton Harbor and Boundary Bay. The spit was historically used by local Salish tribes, first the Semiahmoo, then the Lummi, as a summer fishing stop. Midden mounds and burial sites lie to the west where a small seasonal village once stood.
Gold was discovered in the Fraser River just north of the 49th Parallel that now demarcates the border between Canada and the United States. Steamers from Seattle and San Francisco brought miners seeking their fortunes, often pulling into Drayton Harbor for shelter or to take on fuel. Semiahmoo was platted to compete with Blaine, hoping to act as the jumping off point for travelers moving north in the days before trains ran to Vancouver. Originally the entire region was platted as Semiahmoo settlement, however in 1884 it was split with the mainland section being renamed Blaine in honor of the unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate James G. Blaine (defeated by Grover Cleveland). The two townships competed for regional dominance, each side focused on different industries. Logging was the major industry in Blaine until 1893 when the Alaska Packers Association (APA) opened a salmon cannery on the spit to take advantage of the plentiful natural fish resources. Semiahmoo maintained a share of business when the Canadian gold boom dried up, shipping people and cargo to Alaska, however train tracks were built on the mainland side in the early 1900s, causing most business to move across the water to Blaine.
Eventually the APA closed the cannery and the spit sat empty. Even today the water between Blaine and Semiahmoo presents a major obstacle: with no ferry to bridge the gap one must travel 5-6 miles around the harbor just to reach a point a few hundred meters away. Semiahmoo spit is beautiful and well suited for recreation, prompting investors to build a resort out of refurbish APA buildings. Today several of the old warehouses and docks remain unpreserved right next to the 4-star resort. Well-preserved buildings from the APA offices are part of a county park about a mile west of the main facility. The town of Semiahmoo exists as a ghost town with a recreational community in the middle.
I’ve taken photos at Semiahmoo many times, however it seems most of them have disappeared from my hard drive. These are the few I’ve rescued from Facebook with a few cellphone snaps of varying quality. All photos are original, unless credited.