Advocating the Port Project Local businessmen were the strongest agitators for the port, hoping to bolster a sagging local economy. All other major Washington State waterfronts had created public port authorities by 1920. Bellingham Chamber of Commerce Chairman J.J. Donovan cautioned that the only way to stop national railroad companies from gouging local mills with high rates was by passing the port project. With heavy advertising and support from the Bellingham Herald, the measure to create the Port of Bellingham passed by a voter turnout of 90 percent, with 77 percent approval.
First Port Commissioners
The three port commissioners of 1927 were all men of substantial private means - a major mill owner, a banker, and an insurance-man. The commissioners were all unambiguously proud of the changes the new port had inaugurated on the waterfront. “About a decade ago,” the port’s 1927 yearbook declared, “port development in Bellingham had been entirely in the hands of private interest.” Now, “the most active agency in that field is the port commission.”