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Whatcom County’s largest city and county seat, Bellingham, is nicknamed “The Fourth Corner” for its reputation as the last major city before the United States’ northwesternmost national borders with Canada. It’s not a border crossing city, however. That honor goes to Blaine, Point Roberts, Lynden, and Sumas — communities that exemplify our county’s range of maritime, countryside, and mountainside locales.

What to know before you go: Washington State Department of Transportation posts estimated wait times for Whatcom County’s border crossings with British Columbia. See U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for the documentation you need when crossing at these borderlands.

Blaine

As the northwestern corner of Whatcom County’s mainland, the city of Blaine boasts two border crossings and the motto “Blaine is Where America Begins.” Called “The Peace Arch City” for its dual state park and provincial park, Blaine receives up to 4,800 visitors per day at Peace Arch Crossing on Interstate-5. Commercial vehicles must use the Pacific Highway Border Crossing (“Truck Crossing”) on State Route 543.

Peace Arch Park is a unique liminal space between national borders. Within park boundaries, visitors may cross between the state park and provincial park without needing to pass through border inspections. Such is the spirit of the monument, built in 1921 by Sam Hill to honor 100 years of peace between Canada and the United States. Immediately over the border, by White Rock, The Hills at Portal Golf Club continues Hill’s dream of a resort across the border.

With a population of over 5,800, Blaine itself is peaceful as a place to live and a stop on the way to British Columbia’s largest city. From Blaine Marine Park, the historic Plover Ferry transports passengers to Semiahmoo — a ghost town and resort sharing Blaine’s origins in salmon canneries. This park, Peace Arch, and Blaine Harbor feature annual events that celebrate international relations and maritime life.

Lynden

Whatcom County’s next border crossing to the east, Lynden Crossing, falls on the rural lowland part of the map. Guide Meridian Road (State Route 539) ends and becomes Aldergrove-Bellingham Highway (British Columbia Highway 13) at this crossing. Immediately north, the road leads to Aldergrove Regional Park and Langley Township, with Abbotsford to the east.

Lynden Dutch Village is home to a full-size windmill alongside businesses paying homage to the city’s Dutch heritage. Photo credit: Anna Diehl

Lynden’s culture and architecture is steeped in its pioneer history. Named in 1874 by Phoebe Judson for Thomas Campbell’s poem “Hohenlinden,” the city saw Dutch immigration through the early 1900s that grew its abundance of dairy and berry farms.

Visitors can trace this international heritage through Lynden Pioneer Museum, Berthusen Park, and the Dutch-inspired businesses on Front Street. The traditional Dutch windmills by Lynden Dutch Village and Windmill Inn transport visitors to a country far from nearby national borders.

Today, Lynden has a population of more than 15,700 and attracts thousands to annual events. Biggest by far is the Northwest Washington Fair in August, where more 200,000 attendees enjoy events and contests. Others include the Farmers Day Parade in June, Northwest Raspberry Festival in July, Antique Tractor Show in August, and Northwest Lighted Christmas Parade in December.

Sumas

Whatcom County’s easternmost border crossing lies beyond the mountain community of Sumas. From Cherry Street (State Route 9) going north, visitors may pass directly through Sumas Crossing into Abbotsford.

Since its replacement, Sumas’ Old Custom’s House now hosts office spaces and event venues. Photo credit: Anna Diehl

Named for the Cowichan word for “land without trees” and populated by the Nooksack tribe, Sumas was settled in 1872. Starting with the Lone Jack Mine’s discovery in 1897, its railroad junction supported the early-1900s Mount Baker Gold Rush. The Sumas Historical Society and Museum, Sumas Cemetery, and gold miner statues by the museum and historic former saloon recount this history. The Old Custom’s House building on Harrison Street, technically above the 49th Parallel, operated from 1932 to 1990.

With a population of just over 1,300, Sumas is a quiet lead-in to the populous city just across the border. Adventurous visitors may enjoy kayaking, white water rafting, and hikes at locales such as Sumas Mountain, Paradise Valley Mountain Gold Mine Trail (site of a notorious alleged mining scam).

Sumas’ landmarks include a 1960s-vintage Ford Cabover firetruck, plus wooden statues of a miner and his wife at the former saloon site and Sumas Historical Society and Museum. Photo credit: Anna Diehl

At the county’s edge further east, Ross Lake overlaps with the national border. Although it has no crossing of its own, International Point in Canada provides an interpretive center that recounts the cooperation between both countries’ park services.

Point Roberts

One of Washington’s most curious communities, Point Roberts is a pene-exclave south of Tsawwassen, B.C. U.S. travelers must cross the border twice to move between Point Roberts and Washington’s mainland.

Since an international land survey in 1857, this granite obelisk at Point Roberts’ Monument Park has recognized the area as part of the United States per the 1846 Treaty of Oregon. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Point Roberts’ unique situation results from its location just south of the 49th Parallel, where the 1846 Treaty of Oregon designated the national border. Residents are accustomed to crossing the border for school, work, and life commitments outside of its 4.8 square miles.

Point Roberts History Center and Monument Park recount the area’s history for the inquisitive. At Lighthouse Marine Park, Lily Point Marine Reserve, and Point Roberts Marina Resort, visitors can enjoy international bay views from this isolated end — and beginning — of America.

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