Lime Kiln Point, San Juan Island

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Lime Kiln Point, San Juan Island

by | Jul 21, 2020

Lime Kiln Point is a state park of 42 acres (17 ha) on the western shore of San Juan Island, about 6 miles (10 km) south of Roche Harbor and 6 miles (10 km) west of Friday Harbor, Washington.  The lime kilns were built in the 1860s and one kiln has been restored as a public exhibit.

The San Juan Islands were part of the traditional area of various Coast Salish people including the Nooksack, Lummi, Klallam, Saanich, Samish, and Songhees. These populations were decimated when Europeans brought smallpox to the area in the 1770s. The name “San Juan” was given to the islands by the Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza, who charted the islands in 1791. Further explorations of the area were carried out by the Royal Navy with ships under the command of Captain George Vancouver. American explorations were led by Charles Wilkes in 1841. Despite having colonized the area entirely, the British and Americans retained many of the Spanish names which survive today.

Small industrial lime kilns were used as early as 1860 in the San Juan Islands to heat limestone to produce lime. This process has been used since early civilizations for building mortars. Because land transportation of minerals like limestone and coal was difficult in the pre-industrial era, they were more easily distributed by sea, and lime was most often manufactured at small coastal ports. The remains of many kilns can still be seen where a readily accessible source of limestone, and coal or wood for firing the kilns, are close to a landing or port facility such as at Lime Kiln Point. Read more here and here. Explore more of Lime Kiln Point here:

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