American Camp Visitor Center Closed Christmas and New Year's Days.
The American Camp Visitor Center will be closed Christmas Day, December 25 and New Year's Day January 1. Grounds at both American and English camps will remain open from dawn to 11 p.m.
Park on Fall Schedule
The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Wednesday-Sunday. The English Camp contact station is closed for the winter. Grounds at both units are open from dawn to 11 p.m. More »
When Great Britain and the United States in 1859 agreed to a joint occupation of San Juan Island until the water boundary between the two nations could be settled, it was decided that camps would be located on opposite ends of the island.
The marines landed on March 23, 1860. They brought along the necessary materials to erect the first building, a commissary (or storehouse) about 40 by 20 feet (which still stands). The camp commander, Captain George Bazalgette, RM, then placed a requisition for "84 tin pannikins, 36 tin plates, 3 'dishes', 10 camp kettles, 18 lanterns, 1 measures set, and a small quantity of stationery."
The command consisted of two subalterns (junior officers), an assistant surgeon and 83 noncommissioned officers and men. After clearing the shore of its thick growth of trees, they erected the commissary and planted a small garden where the formal garden lies today.
Barracks, cooking houses and other vital structures quickly followed, especially after Rear Admiral R. Lambert Baynes visited in June and pronounced the need for extra pay for the men to prepare the camp for winter. By 1866 the camp was at its peak for the enlisted men. One visitor commented: "We may remark here that the neatness, cleanliness and good order observable throughout the entire camp were the subject of general observation."
With the arrival of a new commander, Captain William Delacombe, in 1867, the camp received a major facelift. New officers' quarters were built to house the captain and his family as well as the camp's second in command. Delacombe also directed that a formal garden be constructed at the base of the hill leading to the officers' quarters.
Did You Know?
James Alden, commander of the USCS Steamer Active, carried dispatches during the Pig War crisis. During the Battle of Mobile Bay he led the Union fleet into the harbor until stalled by Confederate mines. That's when Admiral David G. Farragut shouted "Damn the torpedoes..."