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Canadian Border to Mount Vernon

  • Distance: 52 miles
  • Routes: SR 548, Old Highway 99 S
  • Estimated Driving time: 1.5 hours

Although many of the neat homes and well-built barns have been bypassed by the interstate, the travelers can still see a variety of interesting sites, both natural and man-made, along this section of the highway.

Most of this land was once covered by magnificent stands of Douglas fir, hemlock, and Western red cedar, but today much of it has been cleared and brought under cultivation.

This region is favored by an equable climate, tempered by the mild moisture-laden winds from the Pacific Ocean in summer and protected from cold winter winds by the mountain barriers to the east. Seldom are summer days more than comfortably warm, with cool ocean breezes springing up in the evening and frequent showers. Autumn brings fogs and cloudy skies and low-lying mists that settle over the mountains and trail along valleys and lowlands. In winter, cold waves move down occasionally from the north, and, congealing the moisture of warmer ocean air, bring a heavy fall of snow that transforms the land into a white, shimmering paradise, marred only by the hazards of driving on slippery or icy roads.

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The Peace Arch State Park (formerly Samuel Hill Memorial Park), a wooded seven-acre tract planted with many kinds of shrubs and flowers, was named for Samuel Hill, good-roads enthusiast, and commemorates Canadian-American peace and good will. Peace Arch State Park continues to host annual celebrations and events, including many summer festivals like the International Sculpture Festival in May and Hands Across the Border in June. The Peace Arch (1921) was...

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Peace Arch

The town derives its income chiefly from tourists’ trade and from the surrounding farming area. A small co-operative shingle mill once operated intermittently. During the Fraser River gold rush in 1858 a tent colony sprang up on the shores of the harbor, only to dwindle away within the year. The town, platted in 1884, was originally named Concord, but was renamed to honor James G. Blaine, presidential candidate. For a...

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Sidetrip: Birch Bay

This 10 mile side trip cuts through an area once populated with small farms, and orderly houses set in neat patches of lawn, and woods of vigorous, second-growth fir and alder to reach Birch Bay.

Take the Birch Bay side trip

Between Ferndale and Blaine the tour runs for miles through lands once containing with second-growth forests, logged-off wastelands, and small farms and poultry ranches. In clear weather the highway offers splendid panoramic views of the dark-forested foothills to the east. Custer was once a shingle-manufacturing town, and is now a scattered community with small farms. Settlers named the place for A. W. Custer, a pioneer who operated a store and...

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A thriving town on the Nooksack River. The surrounding countryside, once featured largely dairy farms and pasture lands, that supplied the raw milk for a condensery and powdered-milk plant in the town. Several parks dedicated to the early settlers and their pioneer style of living surround the community. Ferndale also has spectacular, long-distance views of Mount Baker from its Main Street. Ferndale is close to many nearby attractions including Mount...

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Nooksack River

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Pioneer Park

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Hovander Homestead Park

Port of call 18 miles south of the Canadian Border, industrial and educational center, and distribution point for northwestern Washington. The city borders the broad curve of Bellingham Bay, sweeps back over the level valleys of Whatcom, Squalicum, and Padden creeks, and climbs the slopes of Sehome Hill, which rises practically in the middle of the city. Industrial life was concentrated along the waterfront, where squarely massed warehouses, coal bunkers,...

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Eldridge Avenue Historic District

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Broadway Park Historic District

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Cissna Cottages Historic District

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York District

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Downtown Bellingham Historic District

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Sehome Hill Historic District

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South Hill Historic District

The city is comprised of several small towns and communities founded between 1854 and 1900, and consolidated in a long process ending in December of 1903. The towns included Sehome, Fairhaven, Whatcom, and New Whatcom. The name is from the bay on which the city is located. The downtown consists primarily of Sehome and Whatcom. Sehome was once a town on Bellingham Bay which combined with three others to form...

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Points of Interest
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Bellingham National Bank Building

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Mount Baker Theatre

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US Post Office and Court House

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Flat Iron Building

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BPOE Building

Built in 1914 by James K. Davenport as a dairy barn. James K. Davenport homesteaded the land with his school teacher wife, Elizabeth “Besssie” Latham Davenport. Originally a logger, Mr. Davenport turned to dairying when the old growth timber was gone. The barn originally had a milk house in front of the barn where the milk was filtered and stored until it was picked up by the dairy. The original...

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A shipping center and local supply point for the fertile Skagit Valley. First settled in 1882 by John P. Millett and William McKay, it was named for Burlington, Vermont, by T. W. Soules. Logging operations in the surrounding forests became so extensive that in 1890 a sawmill was built and the Seattle and Northern extended its rail lines to the town. For a number of years it boomed, until the...

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Carnegie Library

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Burlington Fire and Police Station

The Otto & Inga Carlson House is located just north of the downtown Mount Vernon commercial district. The home, constructed circa 1915, is an intact example of the Craftsman Bungalow style, distinguished by its front-facing gable roof and smaller gable covered porch. It boasts all of the typical features of the style including exposed rafter tails, an open entry porch on the main facade, a use of local materials and...

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The seat of Skagit County, it was named for Washington’s Potomac home. The Skagit River has played an important part in the development of the town; in 1870 fur traders, finding it navigable, established a post here. Prospects of gold along Ruby Creek stimulated the activity of the settlement, and when hopes of striking pay dirt faded many of the prospectors began logging and farming in the Skagit Valley. By...

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President Hotel

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Lincoln Theater and Commercial Block

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