NAME: Roche Harbor
COUNTY: San Juan
CLIMATE: Cool winter and summer.
COMMENTS: Semi-ghost.
REMAINS: Many original buildings.
The establishment of a settlement at Roche Harbor predates Washington State. The site is at the northwest end of San Juan Island, one of a group of islands sprawled across Puget Sound between Bellingham, Washington, and Victoria, British Columbia. Hudson's Bay Company erected a trading post at the scenic location in 1845. The Company placed sheep on the southeastern end of the island to roam the treeless grasslands attended by Hawaiian sailors turned sheepherders. Soon, Americans drifted onto the islands and before long, the British and Americans were vying for ownership of the San Juan Islands. This lasted for twelve years. Finally, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany was selected to settle the matter. He established the borders as they are today. The power behind the throne in the development of Roche Harbor was an Indiana lawyer named John S. McMillin who came from the East to settle here. The quarrying of limestone was the source of his fortune. McMillin's other business interests brought him control of the town. No outside business was allowed in the town, only that owned by McMillin. Roche Harbor, once a company town, is now Roche Harbor, a resort town. After McMillin died in 1936, the family sold the entire town. Worker's homes became guest cottages, the old McMillin home a restaurant. A warehouse became the site for a store, and Hotel de Haro was fully restored to a charming small inn. Submitted by Henry Chenowith.