Although Blaine Harbor had been part of the Port of Bellingham since the port’s inception, the port took a hands-off approach to Blaine waterfront activities until the sudden boom in demand for harbor space in the 1930s. In response, the port spearheaded the dredging of 90,000 square feet of harbor water to allow for the construction of a small boat marina, 475 linear feet of timber pile breakwater, and a 3,500-foot roadway to access the harbor.
By the late 1940s, an additional 220,000 square feet of the harbor had been dredged, and the boat harbor was expanded further. Although the port owned the harbor and the wharf, projects were all funded by a myriad of sources. The port contributed $118,055, the State of Washington gave $57,000, the City of Blaine contributed $44,765, and the Federal Works Progress Administration gave $38,570.12. Between 1936 and 1949, a total of $258,390 was spent on Blaine Harbor improvements.Yet construction could not keep up with growth. From 1944 to 1949, the local fishing fleet grew from 20 to 54 boats, and the number of boats using Blaine seasonally jumped from 60 to 300. A 1950 report revealed about 1,330 fishermen making up Blaine’s fishing fleet.
Second Expansion: 1940s - 1950s
With boats so tightly packed in, the Army Corps of Engineers resolved that there was a “great risk of collision and fire," warranting federal participation in improvements. An additional 15 acres of Blaine Harbor were dredged, expanding the marina and its breakwaters and giving Blaine a total of 325 slips.
Third Expansion: 1998-2000
By the 1990s, the harbor was once again suffering from overcrowding. From 1998 to 2000, the Port of Bellingham undertook an ambitious $12 million improvement project dubbed “the re-berth” of Blaine Harbor. Dredging increased the total number of slips to 629, and the dredged mud and clay was used to form an underwater island, creating a better habitat for eelgrass, plankton, juvenile salmon, and waterfowl. Other additions included a new boating center.