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« Bellevue Prairie, situated on the lower end of the island, is about two miles long, by half a mile wide. Oak Prairie, which takes its name from the groves of oak scattered over it, containing about 1,000 acres, is bounded on the north and west by the hills along the west shore that extend across the island at its greatest width. Some of these hills are grassy to their summits, while others are more or less timbered.
“ Immediately north and west of these hills lies a beautiful valley, stretching towards the north end of the island. The southern end of this valley contains several hundred acres of meadow land, but on the north it is heavily timbered. The land contained in it is all apparently fertile, and around it the hills are covered with a luxuriant growth of grass.
This valley lies immediately opposite to Henry Island, and adjacent to good harbours.
“ The north end of the island contains much good land, now covered by a heavy forest, but when divested of this, can be brought into profitable cultivation. In this region, there is a grove of large cedars, very valuable for timber.
66 One third of the entire area of this island, or about 12,000 acres, is well adapted to cultivation, and nearly all the remainder to pastoral purposes.
The soil of the arable portions is excellent, with the exception of Bellevue Prairie, which is somewhat gravelly. 6 Upon this island are at least four beautiful lakes.
From some of these flow rivulets of sufficient size and force to produce good water power, but as yet there are no inducements for the erection of mills, as the timber of the adjacent stores of Puget Sound, is superior to that of the island, the latter having all' more or less suffered from frequent conflagrations; but in a few years more, when the husbandman shall begin to receive returns for his labours in rich crops of grain, some of these sites may be selected for erecting mills to prepare the produce for distant markets. A circumstance of great importance in connection with this island is the existence upon it of extensive deposits of limestone. It is found near the southern end, in the vicinity of the Hudson's Bay
Company's Station. On the western shore, near the base of Mount San Juan, immense masses raised up into perpendicular walls, are seen at several localities, covering an area of many acres.
The north-eastern corner of the island is coniposed of an extensive ledge of the same material. A very small island (O'Neal's), lying close to the north-east end of San Juan Island, containing only a few acres, is composed almost entirely of limestone. Tested by acid and burning, it proved to be of superior quality ; it exists in sufficient quantities not only for lime, but might be profitably quarried for building stone. The value of these deposits can better be appreciated from the fact, that up to the time of the discovery of limestone on this island, it was not known to exist at any point on Puget Sound, within United States territory, (') and for building purposes it was necessary to procure all the lime used from California or Vancouver's Island. In the vicinity of the southern end of the island, are, perhaps, the best fishing grounds on Puget Sound. Great quantities of halibut, cod-fish, and salmon, are taken by the numerous tribes of Indians, who, at proper seasons, resort to this vicinity for the purpose of fishing. The Hudson's Bay Company were formerly in the habit of putting up at this place from 2,000 to 3,000 barrels of salmon alone, which were bought from the natives. Persons supplied with the proper appliances for carrying on a fishery would find it a very profitable vocation.
66 At the southern end of the island there is a large bay, known as Ontario Roads, where vessels are well protected from the prevailing storms of this region, the water near the shore is not deep, and should it ever be desirable to build a wharf at this point, it would require one several thousand feet in length to reach three fathoms in low water. The entrance to this roadstead, from the Straits of Fuca, is through a very deep channel, known as Little Belt Passage, (2) separating this island from Lopez Island. It is a very convenient and
(4) This may be noticed as evidence that these islands are “natural appendages” of Vancouver's Island, rather than of the mainland, their geological formation being identical with that of the former.
(2) Through this passage the compromise boundary line would run.
favourite resort for vessels escaping from storms which often, in winter season, very suddenly arise in Fuca Straits. On the north-western end of the island are several bays, well protected by Henry Island, forming good harbours for vessels of light draught.”
I can fully endorse this admirable and picturesque description of the island of San Juan, having personally visited it, and, on more than one occasion, sailed through the channels which surround it.
The other islands of the group were described by the same authority as follows: (1)
“ This is a small island, lying close to the north-western shore of San Juan Island, containing about a thousand acres. Its topographical features resemble that portion of San Juan adjacent to it, and it may be considered as a part of that island.
STUART, JOHN'S, AND SPIEDEN ISLANDS. “ These islands and several islets lie immediately north of San Juan Island, to the south and east of the Canal de Haro, and west of President Passage. Spieden Channel separates them from San Juan Island, and they are separated from each other by several small and intricate passages.
Their combined area is about six square miles.
“Stuart, the most northern of the group, is the largest; it lies about midway between the southern end of Salmua and northern end of San Juan, and has an area of three and a half square
miles. At its western end there is a mountain peak, 500 or 600 feet in height, from the summit of which there is a good view of the entire island, as well as of a large extent of surrounding country. It contains but a few hundred acres of arable land, the island being rough and hilly; it has two beautiful little harbours, one at its north side and the other at its south-eastern side, upon the shores of
(1) American State Papers, p. 138.
which are magnificent quarries of sandstone and slate. These materials, so valuable for building purposes, are very limited in quantity throughout Washington Territory, and a locality like this is therefore of great value. On one of the harbours are extensive Indian fisheries. The other islands of this small group appear to be comparatively unimportant.
"WALDRON ISLAND. 66 Waldron Island lies to the south and east of the Canal de Haro, and north and west of President Passage, and contains about five square miles. Its southern end consists of a perpendicular bluff of sandstone and conglomerate, nearly 200 feet in height.
height. The eastern shore, composed of the same material as far as the north-east end of the island, is bold and uninviting. Strong tidal currents sweeping through the narrow passage between this and Orcas Island are gradually changing its character. While this portion is hilly, the western half is low land, and, when divested of the forest which covers it, might yield abundant crops, subjected to cultivation. Within this region is a small grassy prairie, containing about 100 acres. The hills on the eastern half of the island contain inuch good grass. The island has no harbour, although good anchorage in calm weather may be found all along its southern and western shores.
66 PATOS ISLAND
(Edmonds Group of Capt. Wilkes).
BARNES, CLARKE, AND SISTERS ISLANDS. “ This chain of islands lies at the south end of the Gulf of Georgia, and forms the breakwater which divides it into the two channels which surround the Haro archipelago. Their combined area is about two and a half square miles. The sandstone, which is the principal geological formation, is too soft to be valuable as a building material, and in places where it is exposed to the action of the waves it is worn into deep hollows.
“ Orcas Island lies immediately south of the chain of islands already mentioned as breaking the continuous flow of waters of the Gulf of Georgia into the Straits of Fuca, and to the north of Shaw's, Lopez, and Blakely Islands. It is bounded on the east by Rosario Strait, and on the west by President Passage, which separates it from San Juan Island.
“ It is the largest and, with the exception of San Juan, the most valuable island in the Archipelago. At its northern end it is about four miles wide, and runs off towards the south-east and south-west, making its greatest width from east to west about thirteen miles, and its greatest length from north to south about nine miles, containing an area of about fifty-five square miles. There are two main ridges of mountains trending in a general direction a little east of south and west of north, which are in many places exceedingly precipitous and rugged. The eastern range, bordering on Rosario Strait, is much the highest, Mount Constitution, its highest peak, having an elevation of 2,500 feet. The highest peak in the corresponding western range is Turtle Mountain, 1,600 feet in height.
“ Between Point Thompson, the north-eastern point, and Point Lawrence, the most eastern point, the shore is so rocky and inhospitable that anywhere along it even small boats would fail to find a safe harbour or anchorage. From Point Lawrence to Obstruction Passage the coast is much less bold, and contains several little bays, into which pour rivulets from the mountains, watering small but beautiful valleys.
“ There are two large bays and one small one on the southern side of the island. Ironsides Inlet, the most eastern, is the largest. It is about a mile wide, varies in depth from five to fifteen fathoms, and extends about seven miles into the island, within a mile of its northern end, thus nearly cutting it