On June 12, 1883, George Washington Lafayette Allen, a Confederate veteran, platted the town of Atlanta on Samish Island to be a sanctuary for persecuted Confederates and other sympathizers with the Lost Cause. It was only separated by a single street from the rival town of Samish, laid out by George Dean just six days later. Allen built the Atlanta Home Hotel on Bellingham Bay, a boardwalk running the length of it on Edna Street down to the dock. The dock handled 16 steamers a day. The docks on Samish Island were the principal port of entry for the whole north mainland of Skagit County until the Great Northern Railway built the cut-off which took it around the foot of the Chuckanut Mountains in 1902. The larger steamers deposited freight and passengers on Samish Island to be transferred to small boats for the trip up Edison slough.
After the railroad came through in 1891, the rise of Bow after 1902, and the improvement in roads after 1910. The main source of income was derived from the plentiful seafood, primarily crab and oysters. Today the island supports a large number of summer and year-round homes.
We had built a great big oyster barge. Before that, he had hauled oysters on small scows, and with his small tugboat. But it was dangerous to the crew in bad weather. They had to pick up the oysters on a big wheelbarrow, and wheel that through the soft mud and up a gangplank, to put them on the scow. The weather can get awful bad in the wintertime.
Maud Hopley, Samish Island resident and former oyster business owner beginning in the 1930s, Oral History R-3-57