Early Settlements Originally home to the Semiahmoo Tribe, European settlement of Blaine began in 1858 during the Fraser River Gold Rush, leading to the creation of two communities, both named Semiahmoo. After permanent settlement began in earnest later in the 19th century, the two communities joined together to become Blaine in 1884.
E Street Wharf The 1880s were a time of tremendous growth for Blaine, principally driven by the rapid development of Blaine’s waterfront. Fishing and canning start-ups quickly became giant enterprises. Brothers John and James Milhollin arrived in Blaine in 1886 after hearing that the booming town was in need of a wharf. With construction experience and funding from local real estate developer Jasper Lindsey, the two worked from 1886 to 1887, logging and clearing the land around E Street and using the logs to build the E Street Wharf. That location is still in use today as Blaine Harbor, and E Street has become Marine Drive.
Economic Growth In 1882, the first cannery opened in Semiahmoo, and by the 1890s, there was intense competition between operations, causing several to merge. Many of these organizations joined forces to become the Alaska Packers Association.
Logging also helped fuel Blaine’s growing economy. Much of the lumber used to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake came from Blaine, as square-rigged ships loaded with outbound lumber could maneuver in and out of Semiahmoo Bay with relative ease.
First Harbor Expansion Learn more about various expansion projects undertaken at Blaine Harbor throughout its history.
Current Economy Despite the decline of commercial fishing, Blaine is still an active fishing center in Whatcom County. Because the Canadian border is close, tourism is also an economic factor in Blaine. With more demands on this busy area, the port is working with the city of Blaine to redevelop the waterfront as a mixed-use commercial, industrial, residential, and recreation zone.