Thursday, January 07, 2010
The history books don't say whether the dead pig had a name. There's also no mention of whether the slaughtered swine ended up as ham on someone's dinner table. But one thing is clear: The porker's plight nearly led to human bloodshed.
From his home on San Juan Island -- about 30 miles off the Washington mainland -- Lyman Cutler spotted the pig rooting through his potato patch, grabbed his musket and fired the fatal round.
After the killing, on June 15, 1859, Cutler told neighbors he'd had enough, that this wasn't the first time he'd caught the beast munching on his spuds. In those days, the U.S. and Britain both claimed the island, which made for an uneasy truce among residents. And Cutler, an American, had shot an Englishman's pig.
The National Historical Park, devoted to sharing the story of the Pig War, is on San Juan Island, one of the more than 70 islands in a chain bearing the same name. In the "rain shadow" of the Olympic Mountains, the San Juans get only half as much rain as Seattle and have an average of 247 sunny days a year. The summer months are the most popular for tourists, though Washington state ferries ( www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries) take passengers and their vehicles on scenic voyages to the islands year-round.