At the south end of the island lie the prairie and forest of American Camp, home to U.S. soldiers during the U.S./British occupation in the mid-1800s. Ranger-led nature and history walks take place on weekends from June through August. Here you'll find some historical points of interest, including an earthen fortress/lookout called the Redoubt, historic buildings, and stunning prairies. In addition, American Camp is home to a nesting pair of bald eagles, an abundance of red foxes, orcas, and other marine mammals that frequent visitors to South Beach's waters.
Spend a little time on San Juan Island, and you're almost certain to hear about "The Pig War," which in 1859 led to a 12-year joint British/U.S. occupation of the island while the two nations argued over who owned the San Juans. The Royal Marines lived at English Camp, at the north end of the island, and a few buildings, a formal garden, and a cemetery remain from their time here. Today, this beautiful day-use park on the shores of Garrison Bay includes a small, seasonal visitors' center and trails.
A 36-acre state park is considered one of the best places to view orca whales from land. In 1919, the Lime Kiln Lighthouse was built; it is still used to aid navigation and lighthouse tours. One of the lime kilns was acquired by State Parks in 1996 and has been renovated and interpreted for the public.
This was the first San Juan County jail and was originally built near the Courthouse in 1894. The jail was a small one-story hipped-roof building with a steeple in the center. The jail had a yellow light above the outside doorway that indicated the presence of a miscreant that created quite a buzz whenever the bulb was lit. The most notorious prisoner housed here was Blakely Island murderer Richard Straub, hanged in Friday Harbor in 1897, San Juan Island’s only execution. In 1982, the jail was moved to the Museum grounds.
Located at the front and Spring Streets intersection, this quaint park has long been the meeting place for those arriving and departing San Juan Island. Here, a granite memorial stands tall to commemorate the nine island servicemen lost in World War I.