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Home National & State Parks Other NPs July 28-29 Celebration Marks Settlement of the San Juan Island ‘Pig War’ Between U.S., Britain

July 28-29 Celebration Marks Settlement of the San Juan Island ‘Pig War’ Between U.S., Britain

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It started in 1859 as a squabble over a dead pig, but it might have escalated into a war in the Pacific Northwest between the United States and Great Britain.

On July 28-29, 2012 you can celebrate the dispute's peaceful settlement when re-enactors from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada gather at San Juan Island National Historic Park for the 15th Annual Encampment and the Henry M. Jackson Centennial Celebration.

sanjuan_morning_in_campEncampment 2012 is free and will be held on the English Camp parade ground. Disabled persons should call the park at (360) 378-2240, ext. 2233, or (360) 378-4409 for special access information.

For more information, visit the Web site at
www.nps.gov/sajh/ .

San Juan Island is the second largest island in the archipelago of the same name, which is located in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island in British Columbia and Washington state.

From Friday Harbor, the island is served by
Washington State Ferries, several private cruise and shuttle craft and three air carriers.

There are no camping facilities at San Juan Island National Historic Park, so if you need overnight accommodations check with the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau. The web site can be found at
http://www.visitsanjuans.com/ .

Highlight of this year's Encampment event will be a 2 p.m. ceremony on Saturday commemorating the centennial of the birth of Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, who, starting in 1958 was a driving force leading to the 1965 Senate bill creating San Juan Island National Historical Park.

sanjuan_areamap_copy_1The ceremony will include remarks from local, state and federal dignitaries and a member of the Jackson family. The festivities also will include music from San Juan Island's own "One More Time" band, punch and cake and a ceremonial firing of the Battery D. Foundation's mountain howitzer.

Also on the docket for the entire weekend event are recreations of mid-19th century Royal Marine Light Infantry and U.S. Army camp life, demonstrations of music, blacksmithing, spinning and weaving, sewing and cooperage and carpentry, along with the pageantry of period uniforms in scarlet and blue.

Black powder rifled musket demonstrations and the firing of howitzer also are planned both days. Saturday (July 28) activities will culminate in the Candlelight Ball, scheduled at 8 p.m., in the English Camp barracks. The public is invited to join in the dancing and refreshments that will include the traditional cake and punch. Music for contra dancing will be provided by the Pig War Band.

As it has since its inception in 1998, Encampment commemorates the peaceful joint occupation of San Juan Island by British and American forces from 1859 to 1872, and final settlement of the Northwest Boundary dispute.

This seemingly innocuous event nearly escalated into hostilities between elements of the U.S. Army and the Royal Navy on San Juan Island between July and October 1859.

The crisis began on June 15, 1859, when Lyman Cutlar, an American, shot and killed a Hudson's Bay Company pig rooting in his garden.

firing_gun_twoWhen British authorities threatened to arrest Cutlar and evict all his countrymen from the island as trespassers, a delegation sought military protection from Brig. Gen. William S. Harney, the anti-British commander of the Department of Oregon.

Harney responded by ordering Company D, 9th U.S. Infantry under Capt. George E. Pickett (of later Civil War fame) to San Juan. Pickett's 64-man unit landed on July 27 and encamped near the HBC wharf on Griffin Bay, just north of Belle Vue Sheep Farm.

If you miss this year's Encampment, the following week another living history event will feature weavers from throughout the region demonstrating how European and American Indian techniques melded to create woven objects and clothing unique to the Pacific Northwest.
Cowlitz Nation weaver Judy Bridges and renowned Washington State storyteller Karen Haas will join San Juan Islanders Roger Ellison and Anita Barreca, plus island spinners and weavers, to show how it was done with all-natural fibers, including wild reeds.

Each week park rangers and volunteers daily will escort visitors on explorations of cultural and natural history in a series of walks at both English and American Camps.

Learn how the Royal Marines went about their daily lives, Indians pioneered salmon fishing techniques still in use today and how island farming practices began at American Camp.

Contra dancing is scheduled for 7 p.m. each Monday, now through to Aug. 20, in the English Camp barracks.

National & State Parks