American Camp Road
Friday Harbor , WA 98250
(360) 378-2240


Every day 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM


The 19th-Century lieutenant's quarters still stand at San Juan Island's American Camp. Learn about the island's early military history at this National Historical Park.
In 1859, little did American farmer Lyman Cutlar know when he shot a pig that kept wandering onto his homestead that it would start an international incident. But that’s just what it did. England’s Hudson’s Bay Company, who owned the pig and whose sheep farm it had wandered from, demanded reparations. Backed by the British Army--who, like the Americans were claiming the San Juans as their own--Hudson’s Bay came down hard on Cutlar.

Defending their American farmer as well as their island interests, the U.S. called in troops from Fort Bellingham. American Camp, at southern tip of San Juan Island, is where the United States prepared for war, all because of the shooting of a pig. The incident came to be known as the Pig War. Thankfully, war was averted, the United States was awarded the San Juan Islands and now American Camp, as well as British Camp, are national historical parks.

Begin your exploration of this wind-swept prairie at the American Camp Visitor Center. There, various exhibits including videos and historical photographs fill in the blanks regarding the particulars and major players of the island’s military occupation. (It must be said: the place goes whole hog when it comes to the Pig War.)

Just outside the Center, head out for a one-mile, self-guided history walk. Informative booklets are available for purchase (or borrow) though are not really necessary given the trail’s signage. Among the walk’s highlights: the camp laundress’ quarters, the parade grounds and lieutenant’s quarters with its extensive picket fence and Robert’s Redoubt, where the Americans mounted five 32-pound naval guns to defend their claim.

The park’s natural history is fascinating as well. Views are far-reaching and include the Olympics, Cascades and lots and lots of island-dotted water. Scan the seas for orcas, the grassy fields for rabbits and fox, and the skies for golden eagles. It’s quite a place, this American Camp, and a great way to spend an afternoon or two.

NOTE: The Visitor Center is open daily from June to September, and Thursdays through Sundays the rest of the year.
Written By: Mike McQuaide
On: 8/28/2000


From Friday Harbor, head south out of town Argyle Road which eventually becomes Cattle Point Road. The well-marked American Camp Visitor Center is about 5 miles south of Friday Harbor on the right.


Kid Friendly | Bathrooms | Picnic Area | Picnic Tables | Walking Trails | Wheelchair Accessible


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