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San Juan Park Celebrates the Pig War

Posted by Lace Thornberg at Jul 21, 2009 08:55 PM |

Looking for a reason to celebrate this weekend?  How about commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Pig War?

In 1859, the United States nearly went to war with Great Britain. Ostensibly, the cause was one dead pig, but several centuries of bickering between these two nations over access to the bountiful resources of the Pacific Northwest had helped tensions escalate.

You can learn more about this intriguing historical incident by attending Encampment 2009 on San Juan Island National Historic Park – one of Washington five national parks. For this event, historical re-enactors will recreate life on San Juan Island during the mid-19th century. Events and activities run all day, Saturday and Sunday, July 25-26, at English Camp.

Despite being called the Pig War, the park actually considers this a celebration of peace, noting that the occasion “demonstrated that it is possible for individuals and nations to settle their differences peacefully without resorting to violence.” It’s a great story and you don’t have to stay inside to learn about it. Instead, you can take the American Camp History Walk and learn the story right where it took place, complete with fresh sea breeze and verdant scenery.  

There’s plenty more hiking to do on San Juan Island National Historic Park. The public shoreline offers a look out at the sea, with numerous marine animals underfoot and overhead. Venturing inland, a network of trails threads through both woodland and prairie. Birdwatchers should note that more than 200 species of migratory birds stop here as they wing their up and down the Pacific flyway. 

Hiking on San Juan Island offers an opportunity to connect with both nature and history, exercise and education in one. How great is that?

Extra Credit: If you enjoy your weekend on San Juan, give your elected representatives a call. Express your gratitude for National Park programs like these interpretive trails and events. Thank your representative now for making sure these programs and trails get the financial support they need and, with any luck, our Parks will still be hosting them a sesquicentennial from now.