Fort Bellingham

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Fort Bellingham (1856-1860) - Built by U.S. Army Captain George E. Pickett and Company D of the 9th U.S. Infantry out of Fort Steilacoom. Construction started 26 Aug 1856 on a bluff overlooking Bellingham Bay, Whatcom County, Washington. The fort was built to prevent attacks by Indians from Canada and the Russian territory on the bayside villages of Fairhaven, Sehome and Whatcom. Abandoned in 1860.

Fort Bellingham Blockhouse (University of Washington Archive)
Fort Bellingham Plan, National Archives


In his report of December 1858 Inspector General Joseph K.F. Mansfield wrote, “The Barracks, storehouses & officers quarters, are within an enclosed square, of about 80 yards the side. The fort is made of pallisades set in the ground, loopholed for musketry and flanked by two Blockhouses two stories high, pierced for mountain howitzers and loopholed: and is provided with 3 gates ... All the buildings are one story. The buildings were wood framed. Barracks had a mess hall, & kitchen, & bakery attached, and was ample."

The fort was abandoned on 28 Apr 1860.

Current Status

Only traces of the fort remain today but the private house in Whatcom that housed Captain George E. Pickett and his Indian wife are preserved at 910 Bancroft Street. Fort Bellingham was located about 3 1/2 miles west of the Pickett house on a parcel now occupied by the greenhouses of Smith's Gardens off Marine Drive. The fort was largely dismantled and moved to San Juan Island during the "Pig War".

Location: Bellingham Bay and Watcom Creek, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington

Maps & Images

Lat: 48.755977 Long: -122.485456


  • Hart, Herbert M., Tour Guide to Old Western Forts, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder CO, 1980, ISBN 0-87108-568-2, page 180.
  • Frazer, Robert W., Forts of the West, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1965, ISBN 0-8061-1250-6, page 167.
  • Whiting, J.S., Forts of the State of Washington: A record of Military and Semi-Military Establishments Designated as Forts, Kelly Printing Company, Seattle, Second Edition, 1951, page 18-20


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