The new interpretive panels were installed as part of a preservation and interpretive project.

The new interpretive panels were installed as part of a preservation and interpretive project.

Fort Casey gets a makeover with new features

  • Friday, June 16, 2017 1:21pm
  • Life

If anyone can appreciate the most recent improvements at Fort Casey State Park, it’s Jon Crimmins.

Nearly 40 interpretive panels have been installed at the state park in recent months as part of a state-funded project to better tell the story of the former World War I-era Army post.

Replications of tools, gun shells, a telephone communication system, plotting boards and more add to the interpretive experience for visitors.

“I think people are going to like it,” said Jon Crimmins, who manages the state park and grew up around it.

“I spent all of my childhood playing out there not having a clue what I was playing on. That’s something I would have really appreciated.”

The “Fort Casey Preservation and Interpretive Project” has been ongoing for two years. It actually started briefly in 2004 when Washington State Parks created a coast defense interpretive plan for its parks and identified Fort Casey as its top priority because of its intact batteries and other surviving structures.

Funds ran out quickly, however, and didn’t become available again to resume the project until July of 2015, said Ryan Karlson, interpretive program manager for Washington State Parks.

“This is long awaited,” Karlson said. “We started the design back in 2004.”

“We have people working on this project who were involved back then. This is a great Washington story of our national defense system right here in Washington state. We’re really excited.”

The mission was specific.

“What we’re trying to do with the project is interpret the coast defense history of Fort Casey and its role in the coast defense of the Puget Sound,” Karlson said. “In particular, how it got there and why it got there?”

Fort Casey, Fort Worden in Port Townsend and Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island all made up the “triangle of fire,” each armed with huge guns designed to protect the entrance to Puget Sound.

The technology was state of the art near the turn of the 20th century but was short-lived, Karlson said.

Fort Casey, with its 10-inch guns pointed toward the water, was no longer an effective part of the coast national defense system by the 1920s, he said.

“The evolution of technology is one of the main themes we have in our exhibit,” Karlson said. “The big idea that we’re trying to get across is the notion that rapid change in technology really made a significant impact on this fort in two particular areas. One is the rapid advance of technology of battle ships. They basically became heavier armored and able to withstand this type of defense system. And also the evolution of the airplane.”

Karlson said the exhibits also are designed to explain how things functioned at the old fort and why the fort was designed in such a way.

“Among the questions I got was, ‘What is this thing? Why is it here?’” Karlson said. “We are trying to address basic questions visitors have been asking for years.”

The project is expected to wrap up by the end of June.

To enter Fort Casey by vehicle, visitors must have a Discover Pass.

Photos by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times                                A family explores the battery at Fort Casey State Park. New interpretive panels that explain the story of the former World War I-era Army post have been installed in recent months.

Photos by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times A family explores the battery at Fort Casey State Park. New interpretive panels that explain the story of the former World War I-era Army post have been installed in recent months.

Visitors explore artillery canons at Fort Casey State Park.

Visitors explore artillery canons at Fort Casey State Park.

More in Life

Members of the public and Whidbey Island Rocks are encouraged to paint and hide stones with Garry oak designs or other local flora and fauna this week in preparation for a hunt Saturday. Photo by Jane Geddes
Island rock hunt celebrates Oak Harbor ‘Year of the Oak’

Whidbey Island Rocks is encouraging people to paint stones with Garry oaks before a hunt Saturday.

Photo provided
The Deception Pass Sail and Power Squadron, also known as America’s Boating Club of Deception Pass, hosts jamborees and other social events, along with boater safety and education classes.
Whidbey boaters promote safety, education

The Deception Pass Sail and Power Squadron hosts education and safety classes, and social events.

Michael Nichols, owner of Whidbey Green Goods, stands in his hoop house, also known as “The Hovel.” Customers visit the Clinton farm to pick up their own produce and plant starts. (Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group)
One-man Whidbey Island farm gears up for spring

The pandemic has brought a longtime farmer out of retirement.

Master Gardener Don Krafft gathers some broccoli in his garden plot at South Whidbey Tilth. He grows several things that are available for purchase at the Island County Master Gardener online plant sale. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)
Master Gardeners kick off plant sale, continue clincs

Green thumbs who have had a taste of spring sunshine and want to begin planting can do so with the help of the Island County Master Gardeners.

Photo provided
Stella Rowan, left, Savannah Mounce and Luna Grove, right, get together for swims and photoshoots like this one at Deception Pass State Park. The trio of two mermaids and a self-described “heavy metal selkie” call themselves the Whidbey Island Sirens.
Whidbey Island Sirens making quite a splash

The trio will be at Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor this Saturday.

Frances Schultz, holding a picture of her younger self, recently turned 100 years old. Her daughter, Connie Van Dyke, right, said her mother’s photo looks like one of actress Barbara Stanwyck. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
At 100, Oak Harbor woman reflects on busy life

Frances Schultz turned 100 years old on March 30.

Joel Atienza’s uniform’s USAF/USSF patches prior to transfer. Photo provided
Oak Harbor 2010 grad selected for U.S. Space Force

Joel Atienza’s advice to Space Force hopefuls? “Remember, ‘The sky is not the limit.’”

The Oystercatcher’s owner and chef, Tyler Hansen, prepares a dozen 3 Sisters beef bolognese lasagnas to go on the shelves at 3 Sisters Market. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Chef liaises with other business owners

A Coupeville chef has expanded his partnership with local business owners to… Continue reading

Joe Gunn holding a freshly backed rhubarb pie. (Photo by Harry Anderson)
How a pie on the Rock became a brand and legend

Whidbey Pies is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

Color Guard Capt. Mike Hutchins, at left, and John Kraft present the Sons of the American Revolution Bronze Good Citizenship Medal to Bobbi Lornson, center. (Photo by Teresa Addison)
Oak Harbor woman awarded ‘Good Citizenship’ medal

Bobbi Lornson, past president of the Oak Harbor Lions Club president and volunteer, was recently recognized for her contributions to the community.

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop in Langley, hangs a purple neon star he made on the wall of his arcade. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
Neon art show colorizes Machine Shop’s reopening

A cacophony of happy buzzers and bells and a riot of glowing… Continue reading

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Third grader Laszlo McDowell gets up close and personal with a gray whale skull.
Students learn about being ‘whale-wise’

South Whidbey Elementary School students got a taste of what it would be like to live as gray whales.