King County deeds Sand Point Airfield to U.S. Navy on February 1, 1921.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 11/22/1998
  • Essay 365
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On February 1, 1921, the King County Board of Commissioners deeds 269 acres at Sand Point, including a new airfield, to the U.S. Navy, but Congressional opposition delays the Navy's formal acceptance of the property until 1926. Congress finally funds development of the air base the following year.

King County began assembling land at Sand Point in 1920 and built a crude air strip in hopes of luring the Navy into developing a base there. Although the Navy was eager to acquire the field, the effort was stymied by Congressional opposition to new military spending in the wake of World War I.

In an attempt to force the government's hand, Claude Ramsey, chair of the King County Board of Commissioners, personally handed deeds for more than 200 acres to the Secretary of the Navy. The transaction could not be completed until Congress approved acceptance of the land on March 4, 1925. On December 18, 1925, King County formally transferred 374.69 acres at Sand Point to the Navy for $1 fee simple.

Federal concerns over some of the parcel titles delayed official acceptance of Sand Point until March 8, 1926. The Navy Secretary Wilbur praised King County's perseverance and "splendid cooperation in the establishment of this new unit in the plan of national defense." Former King County Commissioner Ramsey later commented, "This patriotic gift offered by the over-burdened taxpayers of King County, including the price of the land and the interest on the investment and actual work done, cost more than one-half million dollars." The County ultimately transferred 413 acres to the Navy, and Congress appropriated more than $1 million for the air base's initial development.


The Seattle Times, February 2, 1921; Jesse Edward Hutchinson, "History of the Sand Point Naval Air Station" (unpublished MA thesis, University of Washington, 1931).

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