Waldron Island

Waldron, Washington

Waldron, or Waldron Island, is an unincorporated town in San Juan County, Washington, United States. Although Waldron is not specifically tracked by the Census, the ZIP code is 98297, and this ZIP code is congruous with Waldron Island. Neither Waldron nor Waldron Island can be considered an official name; locally, they are used interchangeably, although the post office name is Waldron.

The population was 104 at the 2000 census.

Despite its location in the generally well-to-do San Juan Islands, Waldron has no connections with the tourist industry and is notable for ranking among the poorest and most impoverished areas in the state of Washington. Due to the low cost of living, however, this may be seen as an inaccurate reflection of the actual quality of life.


Waldron is located at 48.68778, -123.03556. It is an island of irregular shape with a land area of 11.914 km² (4.6 sq mi).


During a Spanish expedition in 1791, Francisco Eliza named the Island "Lemos. In the nineteenth century Waldron Island sandstone was mined for use in various buildings. Coal deposits were also discovered on the Waldron Island. Homesteaders settled the island in the nineteenth century, and the Krumdiack Homestead, built in 1890, is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1941 Waldron resident June Burn featured Waldron prominently in her autobiography Living High and described her family's experience building a log cabin on the island. The last store on Waldron closed in 1942 and no regular ferry service has been offered to the island. Since 1976, Waldron has been a 'limited development district'...No large-scale mining of natural resources is allowed. No marinas or breakwaters can be built. No mansions or paved roads or public utilities, residents declared in the early 1990s with a lopsided vote (82 percent).

In 1997 the Drug Enforcement Agency conducted a massive raid on Waldron, confiscating 886 marijuana plants and arresting 7 people.


Note: because of the exceptionally small population of Waldron, estimates extrapolated from samples of small percentages of the residents are statistically unreliable. For example, while the total population is reasonably established, it is unlikely that the median incomes reported here are accurate.

As of the census of 2000, there were 104 people, 62 households, and 27 families residing in the unincorporated town. The racial makeup of the city was 95.19% White, 0.96% Asian, and 3.85% from two or more races.

There were 62 households out of which 33.87% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.3% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 56.5% were non-families. 51.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.68 and the average family size was 2.30.

In the unincorporated town the population was spread out with 13.5% under the age of 18, 1.9% from 18 to 24, 23.1% from 25 to 44, 37.5% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 116.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 136.8 males.

The median income for a household in the unincorporated town was $18,452, and the median income for a family was $25,000. 56.1% of the population and 31.6% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 45.5% of those under the age of 18 and none of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Quality of Life

The 1995 "WALDRON LIMITED DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT SUBAREA PLAN" described the island as follows:

While Waldron is frequently characterized by the “amenities” it does not have, it is rich in attributes highly valued by the majority of its residents and property owners. Fields and forest, rock and beaches, clean air and water are a part of everyday life, as are litter-free, unpaved roads with minimal motor vehicle traffic.

Children have a sense of almost complete safety, a rare and fragile almost unheard of state of grace in this day and age. Privacy and quiet prevail: sounds of engines and machinery with their attendant pollutants,physical hazards and disruptions do not predominate in any area. With no retail outlet or commercial entertainment or outdoor-area lighting, Waldron nights are dark.

The small size of the resident population allows for intimate participation in matters affecting the community. The limited opportunities for earning money are to a great extent offset by the limited opportunities for spending it, and by ways to meet one‘s needs in creative, non-monetary ways. There is no ferry service. There are no public utilities. There are no public facilities to attract people to Waldron.

There is only one county dock. Commercial recreation facilities are prohibited and development restricted under Waldron’s designation as a Limited Development District. Waldron is not a wilderness, but the environment is relatively unspoiled

Washington's Poet Laureate Lives Here

Re: http://www.washingtonpoetlaureate.org/

Gov. Chris Gregoire has named Samuel Green as the Washington State Poet Laureate, a position established by the Legislature this year to build awareness and appreciation of poetry across the state.

"I am pleased to name Samuel Green as Washington's first state poet laureate," said Gov. Gregoire. "Not only will he encourage people across our state to learn about and appreciate poetry, his appointment to this position will honor the important role that poetry and poets have played in Washington's creative culture."

Green is a native of Washington and resides on remote Waldron Island. A distinguished poet and author of 10 poetry collections, including his soon-to-be released book The Grace of Necessity (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2008), his work has appeared in numerous publications. For more than 30 years, he has served as editor of a small press focusing on the work of Washington poets. Green has served as a visiting poet in a wide range of settings, including universities, public schools, libraries, mental health centers, correctional facilities and poetry festivals. He has been visiting poet and poetry teacher at Seattle University for several years and is active with the Skagit River Poetry Festival.


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