The Pig War
While on San Juan Island we learned a bit of little known history. Actually the island claims to be the cradle of Northwest history because it was on this island that the US and Britain nearly went to war.
The details: It began in 1859 when a settler, Lyman Cutlar, had a farm in the southeastern part of the island. His farm also happened to be in the middle of a British Hudson Bay Company sheep pasture. One of the Hudson Bay Company's pigs persisted in rooting up Mr. Cutlar's potatoes, an irritant that eventually drove him to shooting pig. This doing in of the pig put Mr. Cutlar in a delicate position. He was threatened with arrested by the British but the question arose as to of jurisdiction promptly arose. Whose territory was this anyway? The US and Britain both claimed the islands as their own.
Troops from both sides were sent to the island where they set up camps on the opposite ends of the island, both in exceptionally beautiful areas along the water. They set up housekeeping building the necessary buildings including schools and churches and wash houses. And they waited. For thirteen years!
Eventually Kaiser Wilhelm ! was called upon to arbitrate. His solution, that the dividing line be down Haro Straight, made the San Juans the property of the US.
In the near war there were never any casualties because no shots were fired. We did, however, come across, on a hike above the British camp, a neat little cemetery bordered by picket fence. The names of the solders were listed as were their causes of death - a fall, illness etc.
The English camp has some remaining buildings from its days of occupancy as well as a well kept formal garden. A huge 300 year old tree overseas the remains.
The American camp has only one remaining building leaving an illustrated sign and one's own imagination to the work of what the camp life must have been.