Even if you have been coming to the San Juan Islands every year since you were a child, some fun facts about this beautiful slice of paradise may surprise you. May we present, in no particular order, 10 little known facts about San Juan Island:
1. No squirrels
A species must either come by boat or airplane or cross 20 miles of water to get here. We have deer, rabbits, rats and foxes, but these little bushy-tailed friends have not made it to the isle.
2. Tons of Bald Eagles
You probably have seen eagles on the island, but did you know there are more nesting Bald Eagle couples than in any other county in the country? They live on the north and northwest side of San Juan Island, because the light is better for hunting there.
3. We are Mountains Tops
The San Juan Islands, an archipelago of over 700 islands with 172 having a name, are 100-million-year-old mountaintops, carved out by glaciers.
4. Longest and Last War on US Soil
San Juan had the dubious pleasure of hosting the longest running war on American soil, and so far the last one. The Pig War between England and America lasted from 1859 to 1871 and decided once and for all, that San Juan Island is on American soil.
5. John Wayne and President Roosevelt were here
Both, John Wayne and Teddy Roosevelt were once avid visitors at the Roche Harbor Resort. John Wayne’s custom made, oversized bathtub is still in use at the hotel.
6. Excellent smuggling
Our practical location between Canada and the American mainland made the island a smuggler’s paradise--perfect for wool, liquor, drug and slave smuggling. Deadman Bay was so-named because a smuggler of Chinese slaves was in the habit of throwing the slaves, chained together in burlap sacks, overboard whenever border patrol boarded his ship. The ocean currents then dragged the poor souls to this beach.
9. No Fast Food Chains
We are proud of that one. Most places here serve made-from-scratch, locally-sourced, yummy, healthy food. We have quite a few Farm-to-Table restaurants, an excellent Farmer's Market and an outstanding Food Coop. Our high school has a vegetable garden and its own chef preparing healthy, gourmet meals for our kids.
10. The world’s most awesome Documentary Film Festival
The Friday Harbor Film Festival is held every November and continues to hold its promise to entertain, inspire and enlighten. It is so much fun to walk from venue to venue in our little town and meet the filmmakers at the gala held at our lovely Community Theatre.