Historical Footage

*NEW* Anacortes Veneer Inc. Plywood Mill: A Worker Owned Enterprise

The Anacortes Veneer Inc. Plywood Mill was a worker-owned enterprise. Located at the foot of 34th street on Fidalgo Bay, the mill was the product of Washington Veneer employees seeking job security and managerial control. This led to the opening of Anacortes Veneer Inc. in November 1939, a risky time considering the hold that the Depression still had on the economy. The mill was in operation between 1939 – 1983, and again from 1986 – 1992. In 1992, the mill was destroyed by fire. Included in this mid-century AVI footage are parts of the plywood process from debarking and peeling the logs to patching and gluing sheets of plywood.


Anacortes "Little Chicaco" Fires (1957)

Located along the north and east shore of what is now the Port of Anacortes’ Cap Sante Marina, this area was referred to as Little Chicago throughout most of the 20th century. Many of the structures shown in historic photographs were boat houses or net sheds, not residences. This neighborhood was established perhaps as early as 1900. Considered an eyesore by some, and an obstacle to port development, it was condemned in 1956 by the Port of Anacortes. The homes were vacated in 1956, and then burned in phases in early 1957, culminating in the March 25, 1957 final fire. 

The name “Little Chicago” was given to this neighborhood on the other side of the tracks, as a half-joking reference to the reputation that the City of Chicago had earned for gang activity associated with organized crime during the 1920s. Prohibition was violated in every Anacortes neighborhood, but Little Chicago was known as a place to purchase illegal liquor. The first known newspaper use of “Little Chicago” appeared in 1933, covering a fight over a booze transaction. 

While this neighborhood may have absorbed a greater share of the poor during the Great Depression, it existed before the rise of Hoovervilles. The whole area between the current marina and Guemes Channel was marsh, such that a storm in 1902 made Cap Sante an island once more. The area was home to Elbridge Sibley in the late 1800s, and was owned by the Cap Sante Land Company from the 1890 real estate boom until the Port of Anacortes purchased in in 1928. The 1920 census notes that the residences here were on “tide lands” and “beach,” and most of those who made homes in the neighborhood were waterfront squatters. The 1930 census shows many immigrants from Europe living in this neighborhood, mainly from Norway and Yugoslavia (Croatia). They worked in the fishing industry and the mills.

Port and Pulp Mill Activity (1957)

Included in this footage is pulp shipping and processing from the Scott Paper Co. pulp mill in 1957. The Scott Paper pulp mill was a large part of the economy of Anacortes during the 20th century, providing many jobs as well as a nose-irritating smell to Anacortes. Despite its positive impact on the economy, the mill had a negative impact on the environment, which led to its closure in 1978.


A Day With Bobo the Gorilla

Bobo the Gorilla was a resident of Anacortes, WA long before he went the Woodland Park Zoo. Bobo became an icon in Anacortes and a celebrated part of our history. This film takes you on a ’Day in the Life’ with Bobo in the Lowman household.


Anacortes Seahawks Basketball (1950s)

Include in the video is footage of various 1950s Seahawk basketball teams. Led by legendary coach Bill Taylor, the Seahawks were a dominant force and able to go to back-to-back state championships from ’55-56 to ’56-57. Along with footage of those championship games, there is footage of Anacortes vs. South Kitsap in 1950, and the ’55-‘56 championship parade.

Anacortes Seahawks Baseball (1950s)

With the start of MLB Spring Training, we wanted to post footage of Anacortes Baseball. Now posted on our YouTube channel is footage of (presumably) Anacortes vs. an unknown team. We need your help to figure out the context of the footage along with the date. The footage, c. 1950s, was taken by the Guthrie family. Is Elmer Guthrie on the field? Do you recognize anyone else on these teams? If so, please contact the Anacortes Museum.


Bill Mitchell: The Misadventures of Wild Bill

From Tom Deach at the Guemes Island Historical Society: "I was hesitant when I first approached Bill about coming to Guemes Island to give a presentation for our Guemes Island Historical Society. After working up the courage, I went to visit him and meekly asked if he would be interested in such a project. My fears were allayed by his enthusiastic response: Sure when do you want me? Dreary winter was upon us so we settled on a spring date. The first video (May 14th, 2018) was the result of that request. Bill called it the “Misadventures of Wild Bill.” It chronicles the early days of the Mitchell family of Anacortes and Guemes Island with special emphasis on his Grandfather, Bill Bessner (the first “Wild Bill”) as well as other tales."