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Encampment 2015 starts this weekend – July 25th

Include some San Juan Island history in your visit to Tucker House this weekend!  Encampment 2015 involves 1860’s arts and crafts, military marching, singing, dancing, and even the firing of a howitzer.
Firing the Howitzer at Encampment – English Camp, San Juan Island, WA – courtesy

According to the National Park Service, re-enactors from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada will once again celebrate peace as they gather for the 18th Annual Encampment scheduled Saturday and Sunday, July 25-26 on the English Camp parade ground.

Encampment 2015 is free.The weekend-long event includes recreations of mid-19th century Royal Marine Light Infantry and U.S. Army camp life, demonstrations of music, blacksmithing, spinning and weaving, sewing and cooperage and carpentry, along with the pageantry of period uniforms in scarlet and blue. Black powder rifled musket demonstrations and the firing of a 12-pound mountain howitzer also are planned both days.

Saturday (July 25) activities will culminate in the Candlelight Ball, scheduled at 8 p.m., in the English Camp barracks. The public is invited to join in the dancing and refreshments that will include the traditional cake and punch. Music for contra dancing will be provided by the Pig War Band.

As it has since its inception in 1998, Encampment commemorates the peaceful joint occupation of San Juan Island by British and American forces from 1859 to 1872, and final settlement of the Northwest Boundary dispute. This seemingly innocuous event nearly escalated into hostilities between elements of the U.S. Army and the Royal Navy on San Juan Island between July and October 1859. The crisis was quelled thanks to the restraint of Royal Navy officers on scene and the negotiating skills of Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott, commander of the U.S. Army, who made the six-week trip from New York City to the West Coast. Shortly after Scott re-embarked for the East, the two nations agreed to a joint military occupation of the island. The Americans elected to remain at their camp on the island’s Cattle Point Peninsula while Royal Marines established their camp 13 miles north on Garrison Bay.

Throughout the joint occupation the garrisons exchanged visits to celebrate holidays that included Christmas, the Fourth of July and Queen Victoria’s birthday. Typically the men would participate in athletic contests, imbibe in spirits and other refreshments and usually host a dance to which the community was invited. All black powder demonstrations will be done with blank cartridges on a controlled range under strict NPS safety standards.

Visitors have an opportunity for hands on demonstrations at Encampment  - photo courtesy of
Visitors have an opportunity for hands on demonstrations at Encampment
– photo courtesy of

The Encampment tradition was renewed in 1998 on the occasion of the dedication of English Camp’s 80-foot flagpole, a gift to the park by the people of the United Kingdom. The event drew nearly 600 people to the parade ground, including distinguished guests and officials from both nations. For more information about Encampment 2015, call (360) 378-2240, exts. 2229 or 2227; or e-mail

For directions to the event, check with your Innkeeper when you check in for this weekend.


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