Fort Whitman (1909-1947) - An Endicott Period coastal fort on Goat Island in Puget Sound, Skagit County, Washington. Construction started in 1909 and was completed in 1911. Named in G.O. 245, 1909, for Dr. Marcus Whitman, killed in 1847 by hostile Indians. Declared surplus 13 May 1944. Transferred to Washington State in 1947.
Endicott Period (1890-1910)
Part of the Harbor Defense of Puget Sound. Positioned to guard the Deception Pass and Saratoga Pass entrances into Puget Sound.
The land on Goat Island was purchased by the government on 21 Feb 1908 for $3,000. Construction on Fort Whitman began on 10 Feb 1909 with the wharf and tramway constructed first. Only one Endicott Period gun battery was built along with a separate minefield control and observation post that was 800' southwest of the gun battery. The minefield control and observation post contained a plotting room (15' x 15'), a mine control room (13' x 10'), an observation room (16' x 10') and a range finder room (10' x 10') for Battery Harrison (2). Battery Harrison was a single-story 6" disappearing gun battery with mounts for 4 guns. The guns were mounted on raised platforms with two magazines between the guns. A central building housed the plotting room and a storeroom.
On 21 Dec 1910, the 4 gun tubes and carriages arrived by barge and were offloaded onto the wharf. One by one the gun tubes and carriages were hauled up the 80' bluff by the steam-driven tramway and mounted in the battery. On 21 Feb 1911, Battery Harrison (2) was transferred for service to the Coast Artillery.
The first garrison of the fort was a four-man caretaker detachment headed by Corporal Thad Eastwood who remained as caretaker until the start of World War I in 1917.
World War I (1917-1918)
The fort garrison was expanded during World War I but was again reduced to a caretaker detachment in 1919. Sergeant Matthew Jarboe served as caretaker from August 1919 to 31 Jul 1931. He and his family lived on the island in the caretaker's quarters at the 90' level of the bluff. Sergeant Jarboe retired on 31 Jul 1931 and was replaced by Sergeant Homer Reynolds. Sgt. Reynolds and one private formed the caretaker detachment until 1941.
World War II (1941-1945)
On 19 Dec 1941 Battery C, 14th Coast Artillery Regiment, was sent to garrison Fort Whitman. The unit consisted of two officers and forty-six enlisted men and was headed by Capt. Ray Quigly. A set of temporary buildings and tent frames were constructed to house the troops. A 37mm AMTB battery was built in 1942 on the west side of the island facing Saratoga Passage and remained active until 1944. On 17 Oct 1944 the 14th Coast Artillery was disbanded and Fort Whitman again reverted to caretaker status. Sergeant Reynolds, the last caretaker on the Island, had been posted to Fort Flagler in June 1944 and the caretaker position was assumed by Thurmond Schmittou until the buildings were torn down in 1945.
Goat Island was deeded to the Washington State Game Department in 1947 after being declared surplus by the War Assets Administration.
Goat Island is now part of the Skagit Wildlife Area.
Visited: 14 Apr 2010