Blaine, Washington: Wikis


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City of Blaine
—  City  —

Nickname(s): The Peace Arch City
Motto: Blaine is Where America Begins
Location in the state of Washington and Whatcom County
Coordinates: 48°59′17″N 122°44′37″W / 48.98806°N 122.74361°W / 48.98806; -122.74361
Country United States
State Washington
County Whatcom
Incorporated May 20, 1890
 - Mayor Bonnie Onyon
 - Total 8.5 sq mi (22.0 km2)
 - Land 5.5 sq mi (14.3 km2)
 - Water 3.0 sq mi (7.6 km2)
Elevation 53 ft (16 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 3,770
 Density 680.4/sq mi (262.7/km2)
  Demonym: Blaineite
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 98230 (home delivery) and 98231 (post office boxes)
Area code(s) 360
FIPS code 53-06505[1]
GNIS feature ID 1512014[2]

Blaine is a city in Whatcom County, Washington, United States. The city's northern boundary is the Canadian border. Blaine is the shared home of the Peace Arch international monument. The population was 3,770 at the 2000 census.



The area was first settled in the mid 1800s by pioneers who established the town as a seaport for the west coast logging and fishing industries, and as a jumping off point for prospectors heading to British Columbia's gold fields. Blaine was officially incorporated on May 20, 1890, and was named after James G. Blaine (1830–1893), who was a U.S. senator from the state of Maine, Secretary of State, and, in 1884, the unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate. The city's "turn-of-the-century" theme is marked by modifying buildings and signs to resemble designs that existed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The world's largest salmon cannery [3] was operated by the Alaska Packer's Association for decades in Blaine; the cannery site has been converted to a waterfront destination resort on Semiahmoo Spit. Several saw mills once operated on Blaine's waterfront, and much of the lumber was transported from its wharves and docks to help rebuild San Francisco following the 1906 fire there. The forests were soon logged, but Blaine's fishing industry remained strong and robust into the second half of the twentieth century. Into the 1970s Blaine was home to hundreds of commercial purse seiners and gillnetters plying the waters offshore of British Columbia, between Washington State and southeast Alaska. Blaine's two large marinas are still home to hundreds of recreational sailboats and yachts, and a small fleet of determined local fishers provide visitors with dockside sale of fresh salmon, crab and oysters. Nature lovers have always appreciated Blaine's coastal location, its accessible bike and walking trails, and view of mountains and water. Birdwatchers across the continent have discovered the area's high content of migratory birds and waterfowl: Blaine's Drayton Harbor, Semiahmoo Spit and Boundary Bay are ranked as Important Birding Areas by the Audubon Society.

The Plover was a ferry used to convey workers to and from the cannery in the 1930s. Today it ferries tourists from Blaine to a resort on Semiahmoo Spit

The Cains are the most notable and historical family in Blaine's short history, credited with its founding and achievements. At one time owning most of present day Blaine, the Cain brothers erected the biggest store north of Seattle, a lumber and shingle mill, a hotel (largest in the state at the time), the first public wharf, and donated large public tracts of land.

Nathan Cornish and family moved to Blaine in 1889. He became mayor in 1901; his platform was "twelve miles of wooden sidewalk." His daughter, Nellie Cornish, having failed to open a successful piano teaching business there, moved to Seattle, where she founded the Cornish College of the Arts in 1914.

During the formative years of her career in the 1950s, Country singer Loretta Lynn was often a featured star at Bill's Tavern on Peace Portal Drive in Blaine. William Hafstrom owned the tavern; it no longer exists. Lynn was then living by the Loomis Trail Road, near Custer, Washington.

Canadian Border

Blaine is home to the two main West Coast ports of entry between the United States and Canada. The Peace Arch Crossing, which is the northern terminus of I-5 and southern terminus of BC-99, serves as the primary passenger vehicle port of entry. The Pacific Border Crossing, approximately one mile east, serves as the primary point of entry for heavy truck traffic, and so is also known as the Truck Crossing. The latter is reached via Washington State Route 543 which departs I-5 on the south side of Blaine and connects at the border to the Trans-Canada Highway via Surrey's 176th Street.

Currently, border control agencies of both sides are re-building their facilities around Peace Arch Park, with a targeted completion in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics to be held in Vancouver and Whistler.

International border intrigue has always been a part of Blaine's ambiance. Smuggling became an underground industry there in 1919 with the passage of the Volstead Act banning liquor sale and use in the United States. Rum-running and border jumping thrived along Blaine's shared coastline with British Columbia, due in part to the area's largest whiskey still[4] being located on Texada Island, which is located in the northern Strait of Georgia offshore from the city of Powell River, British Columbia. This continued until Prohibition was repealed in 1933 (coincidentally the US Congressional law which re-legalized alcohol is named the Blaine Act). In subsequent decades, the situation was reversed due to restrictive drinking and entertainment laws in British Columbia, notably a ban on Sunday drinking, which led to Blaine and its sister border-towns at Point Roberts and Sumas booming with taverns and adult entertainment of various kinds. Even after BC liquor laws were liberalized, more or less, in the 1970s, Blaine and the other border towns boomed in the retail sector for goods such as gasoline, dairy products and even clothing outlets as currency exchange rates changed in favor of the US dollar.

The Peace Arch is a monument on the Canadian border, where I-5 becomes Hwy 99 and enters British Columbia.

In the 1990s smuggling again reached a zenith with exports of high grade marijuana from neighboring British Columbia, and corresponding flow of cocaine and handguns from the United States into Canada. More punitive U.S. drug laws provided a haven to cannabis 'grow operations'. As the production of 'BC Bud' grew across BC, a sometimes dangerous game of cat and mouse played out along Blaine's border with Canada. Smugglers used every technique from backpacks to helicopter aerial drops to bring tons of the marijuana crop into the US, while a growing phalanx of local, state, provincial and federal law enforcement from both sides of the border sought ways to stem the tide. Smuggling of drugs, weapons, and money, and human trafficking continues in the area. However, following the terrorist attacks of 2001, the addition of hundreds of federal agents and millions of dollars in enforcement technology have supposedly pushed more of the smuggling activity away from Blaine and into the rugged interior of Washington.[citation needed]

With its location at the intersection of an international border, a major interstate freeway, and the Pacific Ocean, Blaine is frequently in the news. The International Peace Arch, dedicated September 6, 1921 by founder Samuel Hill, is occasionally still used as a focal point for peaceful demonstrations and debate, such as the annual setting of crosses for each American killed so far in the Iraqi War, but most of the people who visit or pass by the Park each year remember it for its beauty and peaceful shoreline setting (although the beach is not officially accessible from the park). One innovative feature that has never been abrogated even during the days after 9/11 is that people entering the park from either side may go to the opposite park boundary without going through immigration, making the park a place of bi-national mingling and, frequently, weddings where guests do not have to worry about immigration clearance.

Until June 2008, the annual Peace Arch celebration known as "Hands Across the Border", sponsored by the International Peace Arch Association, had been held at the monument since 1937.

"Promoting Peace" became the city's official theme, unanimously adopted by the city council in 1998. In 2006, the Blaine Peace Alliance unsuccessfully solicited city council support to formalize a sister-city relationship with Pugwash, Nova Scotia, where promotion of world peace had been an ongoing effort for 50 years. Because Pugwash affiliated itself with the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, the city council ruled such a connection would be "political". Shortly thereafter, the Alliance disbanded.

Peace Arch State Park is located in Blaine at the US Canadian border, and has a sister park on the Canadian side, Peace Arch Provincial Park, the location of which is Douglas, the Canadian port-of-entry and which is part of the Canadian city of Surrey, British Columbia.The Interstate 5 freeway extends from the US–Mexico border at San Diego, northward to Canada, and terminates in Blaine at the city's northern border. Its only pedestrian crosswalk exists in Peace Arch State Park. The two parks, known collectively as Peace Arch Park, straddle the U.S.–Canada border, allowing visitors the experience of strolling to and from between countries amid flowers, ponds, and various works of art. The Peace Arch monument, located in the Park, symbolizes lasting peace and amity between the U.S. and Canada.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.5 square miles (22.0 km²), of which, 5.5 square miles (14.3 km²) of it is land and 3.0 square miles (7.6 km²) of it (34.57%) is water. Blaine's motto is "Where America Begins": the community is also known as "The Gateway to the Pacific Northwest", and the "Peace Arch City". All these phrases are commentaries on Blaine's unique locale. It lies at the northernmost point of the north-south U.S. Interstate 5 and next to Drayton Harbor and Boundary Bay (the southward extension of Boundary Bay is officially named and often referred to as Semiahmoo Bay).

Blaine had a small airport, which was popular with light aircraft owners for its low fuel prices and because it had less fog than other nearby airports. The runway measured 2539 × 40 feet (774 × 12 m). The Blaine city government operated automated fuel pumps. In the spring of 2006 the city government removed several tall trees south of the runway as a safety precaution.[5] In 2007 city council voted to direct staff to close the airport facility before the end of 2008. The airport was officially closed on December 31, 2008. The land upon which the airport rests is adjacent to a shopping center and light industrial business park. The area is undergoing master planning for a mixed use development.


The United States Census Bureau recorded the following city populations: 1890, 1,563; 1900, 1,592; 1910, 2,289; 1920, 2,254; 1930, 1,642; 1940, 1,524; 1950, 1,693; 1960, 1,735; 1970, 1,955; 1980, 2,360; 1990, 2,650; 2000, 3,770.

The city's population has frequently been exaggerated. "Population now 1,735 as against peak of 14,000 in the 1920s," declared the Dec. 27, 1964 issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 3,770 people, 1,496 households, and 1,036 families residing in the city. The population density was 680.4 people per square mile (262.7/km²). There were 1,737 housing units at an average density of 313.5/sq mi (121.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.72% White, 1.19% African American, 1.14% Native American, 4.19% Asian, 0.66% Pacific Islander, 1.33% from other races, and 3.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.35% of the population.

There were 1,496 households out of which 32.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.9% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.7% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,900, and the median income for a family was $45,056. Males had a median income of $36,381 versus $23,561 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,333. About 10.2% of families and 15.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.6% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.


Much of Blaine's economy is based on trade across the Canadian border. The eastern side of the city accommodates a number of import–export warehouses, freight and courier services and gas stations serving long-haul cargo trucks. The Customs and Border Protection branch of the Department of Homeland Security operates two border inspection stations in Blaine. The Blaine Sector Headquarters of the US Border Patrol employs hundreds of federal law enforcement officers and support staff in the community.

Blaine also includes a number of manufacturing companies, including Nature's Path Cereal plant and Totally Chocolate.

The Port of Bellingham operates a large marina 1 km south of the border, serving a variety of pleasure craft and fishing vessels.

School district

Blaine School District #503 serves a population which extends to the south end of nearby Birch Bay, well beyond the city limits of Blaine. The largest share of school services is consolidated on a large (quarter mile square) campus in central Blaine. Approximately 2,500 students of all grades (K-12) attend school in facilities which separately house K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12th grades respectively. Students from the small nearby US exclave of Point Roberts, Washington above 3rd grade are also bussed to Blaine to attend school.


  • A house on B Street in Blaine is famous for having a four-story basement that goes nearly 50 feet underground. [6]
  • Blaine is the home of the "Vigil", a bronze sculpture by Bob McDermott that shows a fisherman's family waiting patiently for him to return from the sea. The $100,000 piece is located on the H Street Plaza in the middle of town.
  • Episodes of the television show Homeland Security USA were shot in Blaine.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ Hrutfiord (2 Aug 2001), "Blaine: forged by fish and timber", The Northern Light, 
  4. ^ Lambert (2002), Rusty Nails and Ration Books: Memories of the Great Depression and WWII 1929 - 1945, Trafford Publishing, ISBN 1-55369-853-3 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Kintner (12 May 2005), "Waitingfor the big one to drop?", The Northern Light, 

External links

Surrounding municipalities

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