Skip to Content
Donate

San Juan Island National Historical Park

Washington's San Juan Island Historical Park is known for its vistas, saltwater shore, quiet woodlands, and orca whales.

The park was created based upon an idea that individuals and nations can solve their problems peacefully without resorting to violence. It was here in 1859 that the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over a pig shot by an American farmer. 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, British Columbia.

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 United States.

Behind glass, a ring of vintage keys
Stay Connected with NPF

Stay inspired—sign up for our emails, learn how to become a member, and follow us on social media to get the latest park stories.

Stay Connected