On November 1, 1952, the Naval Radio Station at Marietta was commissioned. On March 15, 1953, four months later, the facility at U.S. Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) Bainbridge, Washington State closed and mission functions and responsibilities were transferred to NSG Det Marietta. This increased responsibility elevated Marietta operational status and was commissioned to a Naval Security Group Activity on that date.
NSGA Marietta maintained and operated a high frequency direction finding (HFDF) facility and provided communication support to Navy and other Department of Defense elements. The communications facility located at Marietta included an operations building located in the center of an AN/FRD-10A Circularly Disposed Antenna Array (CDAA), also known as a Wullenweber antenna array.
In March 1972, NSGA Marietta was decommissioned and closed in March, 1972. This was the first Navy Wullenweber site to be closed and ceased operations.
The Station was located at the U.S. Navy installation on the Lummi Indian Reservation, about 1.9 miles west of the city of Marietta. The site was located in the inland northwest corner of Washington, 8 miles west of Bellingham and 20 miles south of the Canadian border, which is now the site of the Lummi Indian Reservation. The reservation includes the Lummi Peninsula, and uninhabited Portage Island.
Today, Marietta is two-block community, which sits on the bank of the Nooksack River, on the edge of the Lummi Indian Reservation. Approximately 40 residents live in this unincorporated area of Whatcom County, on the edge of Bellingham Bay.
In pre-Colonial times, the Lummi tribe migrated seasonally between many sites including Point Roberts, Washington, Lummi Peninsula, Portage Island, as well as sites in the San Juan Islands, including Sucia Island.
Long before it was “discovered” by Europeans, Whatcom County was home to Northwest Coast Indians, the Lummi, Nooksack, Samish and Semiahmoo. The area was claimed by the Spanish in 1775 and later by Russia, England and the United States. Bellingham Bay was named by Captain George Vancouver of the British Navy during his expedition into the waters of Puget Sound in 1792. Fur trappers and traders were the first non-Indian residents to settle in and Hudson’s Bay Company set up shop from 1825 to 1846. In the early 1850’s, a tremendous amount of building took place in California (after the San Francisco fire) and lumber became scarce. Word of dense stands of Douglas fir brought California miners Roeder and Peabody north, to Bellingham Bay. An impressive and strategically located waterfall, referred to by the Lummi Indians as “What-Coom,” meaning “noisy, rumbling water” provided Roeder and Peabody an ideal lumber mill site, and a name for the area’s first permanent town. In 1854, its rapid settlement prompted territorial legislature to create the County of Whatcom, an area that, at the time, took in all of present-day Skagit, Island and San Juan counties.
In its early years, Whatcom County experienced many economic ups and downs. When coal was discovered in 1853, another bay town, called Sehome, sprang up by the mine shafts and the Bellingham Bay Coal Company became the area’s largest employer. Gold fever made a brief, though dramatic imprint on the county. In the summer of 1858, the Fraser River gold rush brought over 75,000 people through Whatcom County. Roeder and Peabody’s lumber mill burned in 1873. Five years later, after many cave-ins, fires and floods, the mine closed. Speculators vying to host the Northern Pacific Railroad’s west coast terminal brought communities on Bellingham Bay into rapid prosperity. Educational opportunities grew as well. Northwest Normal School, the predecessor to present day’s Western Washington University was established in Lynden in 1886. The Northwest’s first high school was built in Whatcom County in 1890. In 1893, after dramatic growth, the county’s boom stopped. A national depression and unyielding mountains pushed local economy into hard times. The railroad went elsewhere and population on the bay dropped to under fifty. By the turn of the century though, Whatcom County was growing again. New lumber and shingle mills, salmon canneries, shipyards and agriculture brought stability to the area.
In 1903, the county’s four bayside towns, Whatcom, Sehome, Bellingham and Fairhaven consolidated into the present day county seat, Bellingham. Today, valuable natural resources continue to play an important role in Whatcom County’s economy.