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Formerly known as Phinney, the place looks across Possession Sound toward the city of Everett on the mainland. It was named for Clinton County, Iowa, by Edward C. Hinman who came from Iowa in 1883 and filed a timber claim. He built a hotel and a steamer landing, supplying steam ships with wood and water. A post office was established in the 1880s two miles from Clinton and was called Phinney for a Seattle land promoter. In the 1890s, it was moved to Clinton and took the name of Clinton.