|Washington State Car Ferry "Evergreen State"|
at Friday Harbor
Access to American Camp and English Camp on San Juan Island in Washington State is probably best done on the Washington State Ferry System. We boarded the car ferry "Chelan" at the Anacortes ferry terminal at 8:30 in the morning after a quick stop at a local donut shop. The trip from Anacortes to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island takes about an hour, a very pleasant journey with lots of island scenery. Our trip was on a sunny day in May with very little wind so we really enjoyed the trip.
We landed at Friday Harbor and immediately headed south to the site of American Camp. American Camp and English Camp came to be as a result of bad wording in the 1846 Treaty of Oregon. When the border was described at the San Juan Islands it was not clear if it was meant to follow the Haro Straight or the Rosario Straight, the difference was all the San Juan Islands and both Britain and America laid claim to them.
|American Camp circa 1868, NPS|
|National Park Service Visitor Center|
at American Camp
Both British and American settlers took up claims on San Juan Island and lived in relative peace until an American farmer killed an English pig. The brew-ha-ha over the pig killing caused both the American Army and British Royal Marines to establish camps on the island in 1859 and 1860. The incident became known as the "Pig War". Instead of a conflict, both sides decided that a joint occupation was better than fighting and that's how it went until the border dispute was arbitrated by German Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1872. The decision gave the Americans all of the disputed San Juan Islands.
|American Camp Today|
|Resident Eagle at American Camp|
|Officer's Quarters at American Camp|
The site of American Camp is on a windswept ridge and the small hill to the south contains the earthen remains of the redoubt. It must be a very bleak and windy place in the winter.
|English Camp Today from Officer's Hill|
|English Camp Blockhouse|
We next drove up the scenic west coast of the island 13 miles to the English Camp on the north end. The English Camp has four period buildings in place but no open visitor center. The period buildings include a blockhouse on the shoreline, a storehouse, barracks and a hospital building. Nothing remains of the officer housing on a nearby hill but that site offers a great view of the camp from above and the steps lead down to the camp through a picturesque English garden.
|English Camp Royal Marine Barracks|
The British clearly got the best location of the two posts. Their camp is at sea level in a sheltered cove so that the supply ships could literally pull right up to the camp. Like the American camp all the buildings were locked up tight and did not appear to have any period furnishings. The blockhouse was the most interesting of the buildings.
This was a great day trip for us, we took the return ferry at 2 pm and were back at our starting point by 4pm.
Visit the American Camp and the English Camp pages on FortWiki.com for more information and pictures.