Please note: during the summer months of 2017, the Swinomish Channel railroad bridge will be closed intermittently for repairs. No set dates for closures!
Brief History of La Conner and the Swinomish Channel:
The Charles Wilkes expedition first chartered the water course now known as the Swinomish Channel in 1841. The town of La Conner’s namesakes, John and Louisa A. Conner, were among the first non-Indians to settle in La Conner in 1870. They operated a large store and dock south of the present town. In 1891, the Corps of Engineers (C-of-E) surveyed and began dredging at the Hole-in-the-Wall. 1903 was the C-of-E’s first major attempt to convert the slough into a controlled channel. In 1908, additional dike piling took place, from McGlinn Island to Goat Island.
From 1936 to 1938, the C-of-E dredged the entire 11-mile channel into the configuration that it is today. Ed O’Leary, a member of the C-of-E starting in 1929, was Master of Dredges & Hydrographic Survey Boats. He participated and oversaw the completion of the entire dredging project. The first bridge to connect the town of La Conner and the Swinomish Reservation was built in 1916 and ran directly from the end of Morris Street across the channel.
The Rainbow Bridge, originally called the Skagit County Bridge, was built in 1957. It had a primer color of orange applied, and the townsfolk preferred that color over the required ‘green’ for county bridges and petitioned to keep the color orange as it is today. The railroad bridge at the north end of the channel was built in 1891.