Keystone terminal gives way to ‘Coupeville’ ferry

The Keystone ferry terminal will soon be known as the Coupeville ferry terminal.

The Washington State Transportation Commission Tuesday unanimously approved changing the name of the Central Whidbey ferry terminal.

“I think it’s going to be good for the community,” Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said Wednesday afternoon. She, along with Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce board member Don Piercy, drove to Olympia to witness the proceedings.

The Central Whidbey Chamber Commerce spearheaded the drive to change the name of the ferry dock. Business leaders argued the “Coupeville” name is more familiar with tourists visiting the island. The name change will help eliminate confusion visitors may find when they research ways to travel to Whidbey Island.

Chamber leaders were busy in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s meeting rallying support for the proposal. In the end, the cities of Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley, along with all Whidbey Island chambers and state legislators, submitted letters supporting the name change.

Conard said the presentation and the vote lasted about 20 minutes. She said most of the questions commission members asked were simple clarifications about the name change.

One group, the Keystone Ferry Advisory Group, a citizen’s group that acts as a liaison between residents and the ferry system, recommended rejecting the name change because the terminal is located miles outside of Coupeville’s town limits. The new name could create more confusion if the town ever gets a ferry that connects Whidbey and Camano islands.

Conard said one of the commission members pointed out that the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport isn’t located in either city.

She said the name change will probably be announced during the christening of the Chetzemoka, which will take place in late August at the Coupeville ferry terminal. The name change won’t be official until the fall when Washington State Ferries publishes its new schedule.

In addition, a new kiosk will probably be installed at the newly named terminal outlining the harbor’s history, Conard said. That way the Keystone name won’t be forgotten. The adjoining Keystone Spit will retain its name.

According to Roger Sherman, a Coupeville resident and amateur historian, the name Keystone was created by Island County government as a promotional logo for the Alaskan-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, an event similar to the world’s fair, held in Seattle in 1909. The idea was to capitalize on sea traffic that could only enter Puget Sound via the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which goes right past Whidbey. The full logo read, “Whidbey Island, the keystone of the Northwest.”

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