A Master Plan
NPS Logo

the plan

Today, the unspoiled, relatively virgin land of the two historic sites lies dormant; a few buildings, a few turf-covered indentations in the landscape marking the scars and impregnations of its tale. Tomorrow, the Park Service's realized goals will unfold and unravel the tattered remembrances of this futile past and lay bare the stoical and not-so-stoical recollections which mark its passing as a part of destiny and a token of man's strengths and weaknesses. The Park Service plan is to shed some light—to spark some rekindling of attitudes of the past which may guide our future. How did the Pig War figure in our heritage and how does it affect our ever-present moment? This is the answer which the plan seeks to resolve.

American Camp from south shoulder of Mount Finlayson looking west.


The park will consist of two distinct and widely separated historic segments and an administrative area. These historic lands encompassing and surrounding the American and English encampments should be acquired to provide protection and interpretation for the historic structures, sites, and setting and to provide space for outdoor recreation activities.

There will be a small administrative site in Friday Harbor for a park headquarters building and an information office. It should be readily accessible to visitors arriving on the State ferry.

Blockhouse at English Camp with corner of Commissary Building in the foreground. View south along east shore of Garrison Bay.

English Camp—There are approximately 529 acres within the English Camp boundary, consisting mainly of uncleared forest land extending from the sheltered Garrison Bay to the top of Young Hill. This entire parcel should be acquired in fee to protect and interpret the site and the setting, and to provide ample space for camping and picnicking.

American Camp—The approximately 1,223 acres at American Camp are on the windswept southeastern tip of the island—a predominantly open grassland dotted with an occasional niche of shrub and Douglas-fir. That part of Mount Finlayson which faces Griffin Bay provides northern exposure and thus protection from the prevailing southwesterly winds necessary to support lush vegetation typical of the Pacific Northwest.

Fee acquisition is proposed for all of American Camp to interpret and protect the historic site and setting and to provide adequate space for outdoor recreation proposed along the Griffin Bay side of Mount Finlayson.

If Cutler's Potato Patch is found to be outside the park boundaries, the boundaries should be extended to include this important site.

Graves of English soldiers, English Camp. Cemetery is on north west slope of Young Hill.


Acquisition of sufficient land at each site is the first step necessary for protection of the area's historic integrity. However, for complete interpretation and authenticity, both sites must be returned as nearly as possible to their appearance during the Pig War and then managed to perpetuate these settings. To help restore the historic scene, sheep and cattle grazing will be allowed wherever it is compatible with visitor use.

Boundary fences will be constructed at American and English Camps to delineate the boundary for ease of park management.

All marine facilities should be designed to withstand severe windstorms or removed for storage during these months.

Carved lintel from English occupation period.

English Camp—There are several non-historic buildings within the historic scene which must be removed at the most propitious time.

Boating in the immediate English Camp foreground on Garrison Bay between Guss Island and the Blockhouse is undesirable and incompatible and should be restricted. The waters must be managed through cooperative agreement with the State of Washington, since the tideland remains in their ownership, and with the U.S. Coast Guard, who is responsible for policing these waters.

Visitor and staff facilities and related developments should be sensitively placed to avoid intrusion upon the historic scene.

American Camp—Several non-historic buildings, fences, and roads within the historic scene at American Camp must be removed.

The existing county road which bisects the heart of the historic setting should be rerouted along a sheltered shelf near the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The existing roadbed, along with all other roads in the area not needed for the park, are to be obliterated and the land restored to its natural state.

The service road connecting the Old San Juan Town day use area and the campground with the rerouted county road through the park must be sensitively placed along the northwest side of Mt. Finlayson so it will not intrude upon the sweeping historic setting.

Powerlines which traverse the area should be placed underground or otherwise out of sight of visitors.

General Development. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Land Classification. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)


Friday Harbor—A small information office will be maintained in the park headquarters building located in Friday Harbor. The building in which the office is to be located should be readily accessible from the State ferry.

English Camp will provide year-round information and interpretation. The interpretive facility should be built to command a view of the historic scene for effective interpretation, yet not intrude. It will house interpretive audiovisual equipment, exhibits, a sales desk, and public restrooms.

Trails will be constructed to serve an interpretive function as well as connect visitor facilities and development with historic places and structures.

The three existing historic structures—blockhouse, commissary, and barracks—will be restored. Sites of former historic buildings which have been removed or destroyed will be identified and the lands cleared and landscaped. These sites will be included in the self-guided trail system.

This same trail system will extend to the crest of Young Hill and will provide access to the historic British cemetery and to an overlook site once used by the British Royal Marines. The overlook itself must be rebuilt.

View of southern extreme of English Camp, undated. Garrison Bay is in foreground; Young Hill on horizon.

American Camp—An interpretive facility, providing manned interpretation during the travel season and unmanned interpretation during the off-season, will be constructed at American Camp. It should be near Pickett's Redoubt, though not in view from the top of the redoubt.

The redoubt will be refurbished and furnished with cannon and other appropriate military appurtenances.

Sites associated with the period will be located, identified, and made accessible by road or trail.

Self-guiding trails will connect visitor facilities with historic features.


Access to the island is unusual and difficult since it is almost entirely by State ferry or private watercraft. This necessitates an overnight stay for most visitors. Since only one small campground exists on the island, the Service proposes to provide campgrounds at both English and American Camps.

English Camp—A 100-site campground will be constructed at Bell Point. This area is sufficiently removed from the historic portion of English Camp for camping to be compatible with other park uses.

The campground should be placed to protect the natural view from Garrison and Westcott Bays; headland and shore protection should have special consideration. The campground will be accessible by both automobile and boat.

A spur from the main park access road will connect with the campground for automobile access; floats and docks will admit boaters. The marine facilities must not jeopardize the historical scene, yet they must provide boaters with easy access to the interpretive facilities. Dredging will be necessary for proper moorage.

American Camp—A 50-site expandable campground will be built on the shores of Griffin Bay, in a location where it will be reasonably protected from storms. It should be placed to preserve the natural beauty of the shorelands viewed from Griffin Bay and should not intrude upon the historic scene. Also, it should be sufficiently removed from private summer home developments that camping will be acceptable to both campers and private land owners. Access roads will connect the campground with the Cattle Point Road for automobile access and docks and floats will be provided for boaters.

Permission for dredging, which will be necessary for proper moorage, or construction of marine facilities must be granted by the Friday Harbor Port Authority, Friday Harbor Laboratories, and Corps of Engineers through an agreement.

Remains of stone work at Blacksmith Shop, English Camp.


English Camp—Picnicking will be a separate and distinct part of the Bell Point recreational development. A 50-site picnic area will be provided and will be accessible from both autos and boats.

American Camp—Since the State park system intends to develop a picnic area on Cattle Point, park facilities will be limited to a simple lunching area near the Old San Juan Town site. A wharf similar to the one which once stood here will be reconstructed to accommodate boaters.


Historic resource studies should identify all buildings and sites associated with the dispute within and outside the proposed boundary. The study should provide information to guide the restoration of the structures, sites, and the historic scene.

Research on the day-to-day life of the soldiers of that era, and a study of the English diplomatic side of the story are also necessary.

The habitat at American Camp is particularly suitable to the Belgian hare, which has increased until his presence and activities have become dangerous and destructive. Rabbit hunters shoot at them from automobile windows while driving through American Camp; this will become increasingly dangerous as visitation increases. Also the rabbits destroy the vegetation and their burrows wreck the landscape. A rabbit control study is needed in the immediate future.

English Camp, approximately 1859.


Though park headquarters will be in Friday Harbor, office space will be maintained in the interpretive facility at English Camp for the Historian. Maintenance facilities will be provided at both sites.

Housing for permanent and seasonal personnel will be provided at both English and American Camps.


Power and telephone service is available at both sites.

Water must be developed by the Service; there are presumably adequate sources at both sites for all proposed developments.

Sewage disposal must be provided at development sites. Garbage disposal is rapidly becoming a problem on the island and it is unrealistic to believe that the park will be able to use existing city facilities. Therefore disposal incinerators should be provided.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>>

Last Updated: 07-May-2007