TOP O' THE MORN: Islanders spend life on the rocks

Whidbey Island’s rocky history begins at Goose Rock at Deception Pass. Eons-old scrapes from glaciers scar the big rounded rock that looms over the island. Rocks left by melting glaciers lie in fields, on ridges, in hills. Big Rock — one of the largest glacial rocks in Western Washington — dominates Coupeville’s south side. The chunk is ivy-covered and passersby may not recognize it as a rock, but in earlier days it was a grand place to climb. In Penn Cove, a number of rocks are said to have been used as ballast by early-day sailing vessels.

Rocks were hardly an asset to pioneer farmers toiling to clear their lands for planting. But the rocks often came in handy for barn foundations and fireplaces. On Crescent Harbor Road, a pioneer barn stands on a strong foundation of rock. In the 1930s, Seth Crosby and his son-in-law Jake Wardenaar built a house using rocks hauled from the beach. The house stands today on SE Pioneer Way. A grouping of rocks in Smith Park in Oak Harbor is the result of an attempt to demolish a large glacier-deposited rock during the creation of the park. Dynamite split the rock into several big pieces, each too big to be moved. So the shattered glacier rock was incorporated into the park and became a favorite play area for several generations of Islanders.

Perhaps the most interesting rocks can be found on Whidbey Island beaches. Beach combers often discover large lumps of jade along with quantities of agates. Over the years, our family has found grey stones with white quartz markings on Sunset Beach on North Whidbey’s west side; we call them “eyeball rocks.”

And at day’s end, nothing is nicer than swaying through the evening in one’s rocking chair.

Dorothy Neil has been recording local history for more than 50 years.

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