Throughout Washington, we are reminded of the state's history. Some of the reminders are monuments and historic buildings. However, some of the historical sites are less visible and live on through stories, photos, and historical records. 

Fort Bellingham is one of those historical sites lost to time. According to Ghost Towns and Mines of Washington, the Fort was constructed as the nation's most northern outpost (at the time) in 1856 to protect settlers and trade in the growing Whatcom County area. 

The outpost was abandoned just a short time later, in 1860. The Fort was situated on a bluff above Bellingham Bay and about 3 ½ miles west of the mouth of Whatcom Creek in Southwest Whatcom County.  

Pieces of the Fort were moved to San Juan Island to create "Camp Picket" and later the "Post of San Juan, which served as an American military encampment during the "Pig War."

The Fort was Commanded by an Officer Who would Later Fight in the Civil War.

The Fort had a historic leader: It was commanded by Capitan George Picket, who later led Confederate troops in the Civil War. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Picket led his soldiers in what is known as "Picket's Charge."

Photo: Alvin H. Waite (1862–1929)/ Ghost Towns and Mines of Washington
Photo: Alvin H. Waite (1862–1929)/ Ghost Towns and Mines of Washington

Fort Bellingham Today 

Very little of the Fort remains today. The officer's quarters still stand in the "Lettered Streets" neighborhood on Bancroft Street.

(Visit Bellingham)
The Picket House (Visit Bellingham)

From the Town of Whatcom to Bellingham 

The land around the Fort would eventually become established as the town of Whatcom, which came from the indigenous word meaning "noisy rumbling water." Later, Whatcom would subsequently merge with the city of Sehome to form the "New Whatcom" in 1891. Eventually, the town later combined with Fairhaven to create the city of Bellingham. Today, Whatcom is the largest city along the I-5 freeway between Everett, Washington, and the Canadian Border.

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Gallery Credit: Robb Francis

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