San Juan Island National Historical Park

650 Mullis Street, Suite 100
Friday Harbor
San Juan Island
(360) 378-2902
(360) 378-2240

The San Juan Island National Historical Park, including American Camp and English Camp, was created in 1966 based upon an idea: that individuals and nations can solve their problems peacefully without resorting to violence.  For it was here in 1859 that the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over a pig shot by an American farmer. Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that..

Pressures had been building between the two nations over possession of the San Juan Island group since 1846 when the Treaty of Oregon left ownership unclear. Thus came the "Pig War" crisis, at the height of which more than 500 U.S. Army soldiers and three British warships were nose to nose on the island's southern shore, not 10 miles from Victoria, B.C.  Fortunately, officials on both sides quickly restored calm and the nations agreed to a joint military occupation of the island until the boundary could be decided.

The American soldiers and British Royal Marines remained for 12 years until Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, as arbitrator, awarded the islands to the U.S. Today, both parks are excellent places to hike, picnic, play on the beach, experience wildlife and enjoy a wealth of programming, including the summer living history events.

Upcoming Events

San Juan Island
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Noon - 4:00 p.m.
American Camp Parade Ground

Catch up with the latest interior restoration during an American Camp Officers’ Quarters Open House.

Maintenance worker, David Harsh, who doubles as the park’s historic buildings restoration specialist, has spent the winter months applying finishes to the interior rooms of the Officers’ Quarters’, officially known as Historic Structure 11 (HS-11). The building was erected at Fort Bellingham in 1856 and transported to San Juan Island during the Pig War crisis of 1859. It is largely acknowledged as the oldest house on the island. [more...]

San Juan Island
Sunday, May 31, 2015
7:30 - 10:30 a.m.
American Camp Visitor Center

Come join San Juan Island bird expert and former national park ranger Barbara Jensen for a colorful 90-minute walk through American Camp’s prairies.

Meet in the American Camp Visitor Center parking lot. Birders are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes and bring sun block. Disabled persons should contact the American Camp Visitor Center for trail access information.

 

 [more...]

San Juan Island
Saturday, June 6, 2015
10:00 a.m. - Noon
Meets at Alaska Packer’s Rock at the end of the Salmon Banks Road

University of Washington archaeologist, Dr. Julie Stein, traces ancient habitation of San Juan Island in this popular annual guided trek on the American Camp prairie.

Meets at Alaska Packer’s Rock at the end of the Salmon Banks Road. Park in the main parking area.[more...]

San Juan Island
Sunday, June 7, 2015 to Sunday, August 30, 2015
2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
North end of English Camp parking area

Serious hikers will enjoy this two-hour journey, led by Park Historian Mike Vouri up the south slope of 650-foot Young Hill, where the summit offers views of the northern straits, Vancouver Island, and the Olympic Mountains. The hike can also divert to 410-foot Mitchell Hill depending on the interests of the day’s group. The activity includes a discussion of the Royal Marine garrison at the cemetery, as well as a few words about the Garry oak woodland.    

Dates:  Sundays, June 7 to August 30.[more...]

San Juan Island
Friday, June 12, 2015 to Friday, August 28, 2015
8:00 - 10:00 a.m.
American Camp Visitor Center

The forests, prairies and lagoons of American Camp attract a variety of birds  throughout the summer, and offer a prime birding and hiking experience. Join park staff in enjoying this  wonderful island resource.

Dates: Fridays, June 12 to August 28.
 [more...]

San Juan Island
Friday, June 12, 2015 to Friday, August 28, 2015
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
English Camp Barracks

Puzzled by an animal or bird? Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Education answers questions and uses a variety of media to talk about wildlife in the San Juan Islands. Founded in 1982, Wolf Hollow is a non-profit organization located on San Juan Island in Northwest Washington State. We serve all of San Juan and Skagit Counties and northern Whidbey Island. 

Dates:  Fridays, June 12 to August 28.[more...]

San Juan Island
Saturday, June 13, 2015 to Saturday, August 29, 2015
11:00 a.m. - Noon
American Camp Visitor Center

Park rangers and volunteers describe events leading up to and including the Pig War and the peaceful joint occupation of San Juan Island by English and American troops.

Dates: Saturdays, June 13 to August 29.[more...]

San Juan Island
Saturday, June 13, 2015 to Saturday, August 29, 2015
Noon - 3:00 p.m.
English Camp Parade Ground

Park rangers and volunteers recreate military and civilian life during the island’s early pioneer period. Activities include blacksmithing, coopering, weaving, needlework and exhibitions of military equipment and skills.

Dates:  Saturdays, June 13 to August 29.[more...]

San Juan Island
Monday, June 15, 2015 to Monday, August 24, 2015
7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
English Camp Barracks

Folk singer Michael Cohen and local folk musicians present an evening of traditional folk tunes and dancing for those wishing a turn on the floor. Cohen plays regularly at the San Juan Farmer’s Market.  He has worked with the Smithsonian in cataloging American folk music. The core group of dancers meets on Mondays throughout the winter at the Mullis Center in Friday Harbor, so there are always experienced dancers to help along the novices.  

Dates:  Mondays , June 15 to August 24.[more...]

San Juan Island
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 to Wednesday, August 26, 2015
2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
American Camp Visitor Center,

Many of today’s island families are descended from U.S. Army soldiers.  Join Park Historian Mike Vouri and learn more about how American Camp’s “frontiersmen in blue” played a key role in pioneering Euro-American settlement on San Juan Island. Vouri also will discuss how agricultural operations changed the character of island landscapes, including American Camp. This season’s walk may be limited to the park boundary because of the Cattle Point Road construction activities. Stay posted to the park’s web site for information.

Dates: Wednesdays, June 17 to August 26.[more...]

San Juan Island
Thursday, June 18, 2015 to Thursday, August 27, 2015
2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
American Camp Parking area

Accompany a park ranger or volunteer on this cross-prairie journey to the historic Salmon Bank at South Beach, where springs attracted Indians and Europeans alike. This activity can be strenuous.

Dates: Thursdays, June 18 to August 27.[more...]

San Juan Island
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
7:00 p.m.
San Juan Island Library

San Juan Island historian Boyd Pratt describes how Belle Vue Sheep Farm at American Camp transitioned from a corporate to a private farm and will explore the legacy that can be seen and experienced each week at the Friday Harbor Farmers Market.[more...]

San Juan Island
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
7:00 p.m.
San Juan Island Library

Time and distance had a profound effect on events as they unfolded during the Pig War crisis of 1859. Learn when the telegraph arrived here and how it affected communications on San Juan Island in the second installment of this presentation introduced in 2014 by Park Ranger Doug Halsey.[more...]

San Juan Island
Saturday, July 18, 2015 to Saturday, August 8, 2015
2:00 p.m.
American Camp Visitor Center

Join San Juan Island artist Nancy Spaulding to learn how she utilizes photography and sketching on site to create many of her landscapes of American Camp features and vistas. The July program will cover photography and sketching subjects on site. In August participants may bring their projects from the first session, but all are welcome.

Two days only, Saturdays, July 18 and August 8.[more...]

San Juan Island
Friday, July 24, 2015
7:00 p.m.
English Camp at Royal Marine Barracks

Join Washington State’s beloved storyteller Karen Haas for an entertaining evening of pioneer lore as told by the people who lived it.

 [more...]

San Juan Island
July 25; July 26
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Sat. & 5:00 p.m. Sun.
English Camp Parade Ground & Barracks

Park staff, volunteers and re-enactors from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada recreate life on San Juan Island at mid-19th century. [more...]

San Juan Island
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Noon - 3:00 p.m.
English Camp Parade Ground

Author and educator Janet Oakley will set up at Encampment for demonstrations of pioneer folkways from butter churning to Dutch oven baking and other tasks.[more...]

San Juan Island
Sunday, August 2, 2015
All Day
English Camp Parade Ground

Join weavers from throughout the San Juan Islands when they gather in the barracks to demonstrate how pioneers transformed raw wool into yarn, and witness how a period loom transforms the yarn into cloth for blankets, apparel and more. Outside, Roger Ellison and Anita Barreca will show how woven latticework of wooden stakes (called wattles) could be daubed with a mixture of mud and clay, animal dung and straw to create a structure. Visitors will have a hands-on opportunity to make and take home their own small crafts projects.

 [more...]

San Juan Island
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
7:00 p.m.
San Juan Island Library

The Royal Navy called at and then operated from the Esquimalt Royal Navy Dockyard (just north of Victoria, BC) from the survey of the site by HMS Pandora in 1842 until it abandoned the yard at sunset on March 1, 1905. The yard also served as auxiliary base of the British Eastern Pacific Station at mid-19th century. Learn more about the lasting British legacy here in this PowerPoint program by park historian Mike Vouri.[more...]

San Juan Island
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
7:00 p.m.
San Juan Grange Hall

Join Boyd Pratt, Doug McCutcheon and Mike Vouri for a reprise and update of their evening of viewing 1890s images of the San Juan islands by the U.S. Coast Survey’s John Gilbert, contrasted with photographs taken from the same perspective today. Vouri will open the discussion with a look at the first survey of the islands by the Coast Survey’s naval assistant, Lt. Cmdr. James Alden, and surveyor and map maker George Davidson operating from the U.S. Coast Steamer Active from 1853-1860. Pratt will follow with insights on Gilbert’s land-use T-sheets.[more...]

San Juan Island
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
7:00 p.m.

Learn how park operations fared in the 2015 summer season, from a Cattle Point Road realignment update to the Mitchell Hill trail network signage to operations on Westcott Bay and its attendant trails. Lee will be pleased to field questions from the audience.[more...]

San Juan Island
July 25; July 26
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Sat. & 5:00 p.m. Sun.
English Camp Parade Ground & Barracks

Park staff, volunteers and re-enactors from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada recreate life on San Juan Island at mid-19th century. [more...]