Title: Local journalist pens new history book about Roche Harbor; book signings July 11 and 18
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: San Juan Journal
New from Arcadia Publishing and local author, Richard Walker, is the latest volume in the Images of America series, "Roche Harbor."
Roche Harbor's deep, protected waters and abundant resources inspired poets, one of whom wrote in 1903, "A rock-bound coast hems in a wealth of verdant pastures sweet; / Deep forests cover vale and hill where fresh and salt waters meet."
For millennia, this was the home of the Lummi and Songhees people. The British established a military camp near here in 1860 to maintain their claim to the San Juan Islands. Limestone was quarried here for 90 years, helping to build West Coast cities as well as personal fortunes. Roche Harbor continues to be a favorite gathering place for boating, fishing, and kayaking -- a gateway to the splendors of the American San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands.
This photo history provides a colorful look at Roche Harbor life from pre-settlement to present day. Working with Roche Harbor archivists as well as owners of private photo collections, Walker selected more than 200 images and interviewed people with ties to each period to compose this visual history of Roche Harbor and the people who have called it home.
Many of the images are published for the first time.
The book's 128 pages are organized in eight chapters: "This Place Called Whelaalk," "The Settlement Era," "Lime: San Juan Island's Gold," "A Community Called Roche Harbor," "A Doctor in the House," "Characters, Legends and Lore," "The Birth of the Boatel," and "The Village Era."
Also available is a set of 15 postcards featuring images from "Roche Harbor." The set enables the buyer to own copies of images from the book.
Walker is editor of The Journal of the San Juan Islands and is a periodic writer for regional and national publications. He is a trustee of the San Juan Historical Society.
Two meet-the-author and book signing events are scheduled: July 11, 1-3 p.m., at Griffin Bay Bookstore; and July 18, 2-4 p.m., in front of Roche Harbor Grocery Store.
The book is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888) 313-2665 or
Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Its mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America's people and places. Other Arcadia books of local interest include "Orcas Island" by the Orcas Island Historical Society and Museum; "The Pig War" by Mike Vouri; "Friday Harbor" by Mike Vouri, Julia Vouri and the San Juan Historical Society; and "Ferries of Puget Sound" by Steven J. Pickens.
by Richard Walker
Images of America Series
by Richard Walker
Postcards of America Series
15 postcards per set
Title: Images of America: Roche Harbor
Author: Helen Sanders
Publisher: Island Weekly
For the history-minded, there is nothing quite so pleasing as reading a well-written book of non-fiction about the place in which you live. Richard Walker, editor of the San Juan Journal on Friday Harbor, has written such a book, entitled "Images of America: Roche Harbor."
Presented in an engaging and informative style, the book focuses primarily on the settlement years, when the Hudson Bay Company first came to the island in 1845. It weaves in the archaeological history of the island, as well as the native indian population and their interaction with whites and both groups' influences upon one another. Most of all, it objectively describes several important historical events, such as the notorious Pig War, as well as the depiction of the establishment of the lime industry, which was first started by the Hudson Bay Company, but was taken over later by John McMillin. Lime was the cornerstone industry in Roche Harbor, roughly through the years 1860 - 1936.
Lime deposits lay thick within a cliff above Roche Harbor, and men would blast the limestone out of the rock, cart it down to the kilns that were built below the quarry, and using the kilns, they would burn off the carbon dioxide within the limestone, leaving a powdery product called quicklime. Quicklime was used in concrete making, as well as in combination with other chemical substances in the creation of "glass, paint, paper, plastics, and tiles." Spalls, or limestone rock which was too small to burn, was used in steel production, as flux in steel-making. Flux removes impurities from the steel and increases slag production.
Another huge bonus of this book is the abundance of photographs that illustrate the development of the lime industry in clear detail, as well as other facets of Roche Harbor. There are hundreds of crisp black and white photos that document the building of the limestone workers' quarters, the adjacent industry of barrel-making (which were used to transport the finished quicklime), the ships and tugs in port, as Roche Harbor was also deep enough to accommodate the vessels that would take the quicklime to market, and the store, churches, hotel, gardens, and school that made up the seaside village.
This is an excellent walk through local history, and provides an entertaining as well as educational lesson about the San Juan Islands.