During the summer of 1859 in the San Juan Islands, the U.S. and England were poised at the brink of war--over a pig! The islands, which lie between the mainland U.S. and Canada's Vancouver Island, were jointly claimed by the U.S. and Britain. Tensions escalated into an international incident when an American farmer shot a pig--owned by the Hudson's Bay Company--that was rooting in his garden. A standoff ensued for the next 12 years without further casualty. In 1872, the conflict was settled after the matter was referred to Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, who, in turn, referred the dispute to an arbitration committee in Geneva, Switzerland. The committee voted 2-1 to turn the San Juan Islands over to the U.S.
San Juan Island National Historical Park was established in 1966 to teach the lesson of what is now termed "The Pig War." It is the only NPS site that commemorates a peaceful resolution of conflict. Both the American and English camps are preserved at opposite ends of San Juan Island to show how they co-existed during joint military occupation.