The history of the San Juan Islands literally shaped Washington.  If the past had taken a slightly different turn during the “Pig War” standoff from 1859 – 1872, when the demarcation lines between the countries were drawn, those beautiful islands in Seattle’s backyard would be Canadian territory. Discover the history of the islands and other colorful stories during History Lives Here – National Historic Preservation Month in the San Juan Islands.

English Camp, San Juan Island (Photo Credit: San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau)

Did you know the San Juans were once the fruit basket of the Northwest? Photos of Eastsound, a new exhibit at the Orcas Island Historical Museum, marks over 120 years of change in the life and spirit of the village of Eastsound. The exhibit traces the dramatic evolution from an expanse of orchards in the 1890’s to the commercial center of Orcas that it is today. Visitors will have a chance to see the people, culture, and places that have made Eastsound a vibrant community in which to live, work, and visit.

Eastsound Village, Orcas Island (Photo Credit: Carl Silvernail)

In a fascinating talk, ecologist Russel Barsh describes the world-system that evolved in North America as it parallels the history of Greco-Roman Europe. His talk will also place contemporary Indigenous peoples in the context of a thousand years of struggle and change.

Hypnotized by your family history? San Juan Historical Society and Museum research volunteer Robin Jacobson shares what she has learned from some of the best trainers in the country. Be a history detective with the help of Robin’s top research tips and favorite resources, specific to the San Juan Islands region and worldwide. Do not fear falling down the rabbit hole of research! You can read more about my visit to the museum last year here!

San Juan Historical Museum, Friday Harbor (Photo Credit: San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau)

With three historical museums and the San Juan Island National Historical Park, visitors can experience San Juan Islands history all year. Check out the interactive Museum of History and Industry in Friday Harbor and Encampment at the National Historical Park. Take a self-guided tour of Friday Harbor which has more than 150 historic sites within its walkable one-mile radius. Twenty-six of these are described in the Historic Friday Harbor on Foot Tour. You can read more about my tour of Friday Harbor last year the historical sites I visited here!

You can also join the San Juan Island National Historical Park staff for two historical hiking tours on May 26 and 27, 2018. On Saturday, May 26, take a bite out of history with a tour of the remnant Sandwith homestead and orchard on Young Hill at English Camp. The hike departs the English Camp parking lot at 1 pm. Then on Sunday, May 27, ewe (see what we did there?) don’t want to miss this in depth look at the role the Belle Vue Sheep Farm played in the early settlement of San Juan Island. The hike departs the American Camp Visitor Center parking lot at 1 pm.

Artist depiction of the Belle Vue Sheep Farm in September 1859. (Artist Credit: Richard Schlecht)

History Lives Here Events: More information and other events on May’s History Lives Here and a list of historic lodging properties offering specials, may be found on the Visitors Bureau May History Page here.

Friday Harbor, 1908 Front and Spring corner. (Photo Credit: San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau)

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