San Juan Island History

British Camp, San Juan Island
British Camp, San Juan Island
No mention of San Juan Island history can be complete with the story of the Pig War being told. In the mid 19th century for twelve years both American and British troops lived here in American and British Camps, on the north end.
Both are now part of the San Juan Island National Historic Park (see Parks). In the 1850's, this land was claimed by both the British and the Americans. In 1859, an American squatter walked out of his cabin and discovered a Hudson's Bay hog rooting in his potatoes. He shot the pig and almost started the war. The British authorities threatened him with arrest, and the Americans retaliated, sending 66 men from the Pacific Northwest US forces to the island. James Douglas, B.C.'s governor, rose to the occasion with similar threats on Britain's behalf, and by the end of August 461 Americans stared incredulously out to sea at five British warships carrying 2,140 men and many cannons.
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
American Camp, San Juan Island
American Camp, San Juan Island
Two mighty nations seemed poised on the brink of a war over a pig.Sense prevailed, however, and a joint military occupation of the island was negotiated. Ultimately in 1872 the dispute was settled when an independent arbitrator awarded the islands to America.
Buildings on the State Register of Historic Places
  • Oddfellows Hall, Friday Harbor - 1892
  • Valley Church, San Juan Valley - 1892
Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places
  • Roche Harbor - 1881
  • San Juan County Court House, Friday Harbor - 1906
  • Lime Kiln Lighthouse - 1919
  • American Camp and English Camp, San Juan Island National Historic Park - 1860's