The Port of Blaine is located in far northwest Washington in Whatcom County less than a mile from the United States' border with British Columbia, Canada. The Port of Blaine is about 37 nautical miles (32 kilometers or 20 miles) northwest of the Port of Bellingham, Washington, and about 47 nautical miles (40 kilometers or 25 miles) south-southeast of Canada's Port of Vancouver. The Port of Blaine is almost 100 nautical miles (158 kilometers or 98 miles) north-northwest of the Port of Seattle. The 2010 US Census reported a population of almost 4700 people in the Port of Blaine.
The economy of the Port of Blaine is dominated by cross-border trade with Canada. There are two customs inspection stations in the Port of Blaine, and the US Border Patrol has hundreds of employees in the community. Many import-export warehouses and freight and courier services are located on the Port of Blaine's east side. Supporting fishing vessels and recreational craft, the large marina in the Port of Blaine is actually operated by the Port of Blaine. There are several manufacturers in the Port of Blaine, including Totally Chocolate and Nature's Path cereal.
Based on archaeological evidence, we know that humans have inhabited the Northwest and the future Port of Blaine area for more than ten thousand years. The Puget Salish people lived along the shores of Puget Sound when Europeans arrived in the area that would become the Port of Blaine. Before they had treaties with the United States, there were over 50 Puget Salish tribes.
When white settlers came to the Port of Blaine area in the late 18th Century, they brought diseases to the Puget Salish that wiped out much of their population. Despite this, the Salish tolerated the settlers and were eager to trade with them. In 1855, the Puget Salish signed the Point Elliot Treaty with the Washington Territory, creating a government-to-government relationship with the United States. As part of the treaty, the Salish ceded much of their homeland to the US, and the Lummi reservation was established.
In 1974 in the Boldt Decision, the US Supreme Court restored fishery rights to the Puget Salish people based on the Point Elliot Treaty. In the latter decades of the 20th Century, many Puget Salish tribes with Federal recognition developed financial independence based on gambling casinos, tax-free retail tobacco, and their fisheries.
In 2007, the government of Washington State officially acknowledged that the Coast Salish were the first inhabitants of Whatcom County. The celebration was attended by representatives of the Lummi, Samish, and Nooksack Nations, bringing a new era of reconciliation to the modern peoples of Whatcom County and the Port of Blaine area. In today's Whatcom County, the Lummi and Nooksack Salish populated the Port of Blaine area. The modern Lummi Indian Reservation is located about 24 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of the Port of Blaine near Bellingham.
In 1856, the US Boundary Survey Commission surveyed the 49th parallel where the United States and Canada meet. In 1858, gold was discovered on the Fraser River in British Columbia, bringing settlers to the area around what would become Port of Blaine who outfitted eager miners and prospectors. At that time, the settlement was called Semiahmoo, the name of the Salish tribe occupying the Port of Blaine and surrounding area.
Whatcom County's first salmon cannery was built in the Port of Blaine on Semiahmoo spit in 1881, producing more than 36 thousand cases of sockeye in 1893. Later becoming the Alaska Packers Association and the world's biggest salmon cannery, the facility packed some hundred thousand cases of salmon in a season by the middle 1950s. In 1982, the Trillium Corporation bought the cannery, converting it to today's four-star Inn at Semiahmoo resort (closed in December 2012).
Logging began in the Port of Blaine area in in the mid-1870s, and the first sawmill opened in 1886. Timber cleared was used to build the "E" street wharf in the Port of Blaine. Lumber produced in the Port of Blaine's sawmills was used to rebuild San Francisco after the terrible 1906 fire. For many decades, the Port of Blaine prospered as a seaport for the logging and fishing industries.
By the middle 20th Century, much of the forest around the Port of Blaine had been logged, but the fishing industry continued to be highly productive. Hundreds of fishermen harvested the waters off British Columbia in the waters between the Port of Blaine and southeast Alaska. Today, the Port of Blaine's two marinas support a small fleet of local fishers who sell salmon, oysters, and crab on the docks as well as hundreds of recreational yachts and sailboats.
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