ROCKAWAY HISTORY

While John D. Rockefeller was building his oil empire and Andrew Carnegie was expanding the American steel industry, Devlan Rockwell was on a small island in the Pacific Northwest striking his own gold, with an ax —  He was cutting down behemoth Sequoia and Sitka spruce trees that measured 300 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter.  Devlan Rockwell went on to create the world's largest lumber mill and become one of the greatest lumber barons of all time.

With the success of Rockwell’s lumber mill, many buildings were erected on the island on the speculation that Rockaway Island would become a major city, just as Manhattan had become a thriving city in the east.  Bridges and rail lines were being planned.  However, some looked at Rockaway as “Sin at sea level” because of the transient sailors and miners that converged in saloons along the wharfs and parlors of ill repute. Most saw Rockaway as a “City of Dreams” with hope that it would thrive as the largest port on the west coast, a gateway to the Northwest, or the Pacific Rim, depending on which direction you were traveling.


When the depression hit, the plans to move the railroad lost the capital to continue. The Rockwell Lumber Mill burnt to the ground and Devlan opted to relocate the mill.  Soon the town’s population dwindled and despite the towns ideal coastal appeal it remained small and rural.  

In 1940, the U.S. Navy built a top-secret, international, radio-listening station named “Station S" on Rockaway Island.  Tests had shown that it was an outstanding location to intercept radio communication transmitted from the Far East, mainly Japan.  They went on to build the largest radio transmitter with a tower 300 feet taller than the Space Needle.

At the end of World War II, the station turned to the Cold War, intercepting messages from Russia.  And later put a focus on a deeper listening to the earth's inner core.

 

As for the name “Rockaway” many believe it was named after Devlan Rockwell, but upon further investigation there is a story that goes back to the native Americans that first settled this land.  A comet fell from the sky and landed in the sea.  A rock fell away.  ROCKAWAY.  This origin could explain the natural geomagnetic points on Rockaway. Vortexes, where the earth is exceptionally alive and draws to its center everything that surrounds it like a tornado.  A gateway to a complex system of spiritual superhighways, criss-crossing time, space and dimensions.

 

Rockaway Island is the same physical size of Manhattan, and like Manhattan, it has its share of skeletons.  This could be taken literally as the American Indians in the region had unique burial practices.  They would adorn the dead in finery and lash them to the tops of trees or bury them on nearby islands, keeping the dead and their world insulated by the water.

Today, Rockaway Island is 30 minutes by ferryboat to Seattle making it an easy commute and an ideal place to live.  As the speed of ferryboats increased, so have property values and today Rockaway finds itself once again a developing dream town of premium real estate - Martha’s Vineyard of the West.    Despite the development, the skeletons remain. It could be argued that Rockaway’s unusual history, it’s skeletons and ghosts make for an added charm. The old dirt roads, the ramshackle barns, the communal town dog, old-fashioned movie theater and odd island characters separate Rockaway from any typical suburbia.

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