Orcas Island


Location of Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands
Orcas Island is located in Washington (state)
Orcas Island (Washington (state))
Location Pacific Northwest
Coordinates 48°39′15″N 122°56′18″W / 48.65417°N 122.93833°W / 48.65417; -122.93833Coordinates: 48°39′15″N 122°56′18″W / 48.65417°N 122.93833°W / 48.65417; -122.93833
Archipelago San Juan Islands
Area 57.3 sq mi (148.4 km2)
Highest elevation 2,409 ft (734.3 m)
Highest point Mount Constitution
United States
State  Washington
County San Juan County
Largest city Eastsound
Population 4,453 (as of 2000)
Density 30.09 /km2 (77.93 /sq mi)

Orcas Island (play /ˈɔrkəs/, like Orcus, not */ˈɔrkəz/ like the plural of orca) is the largest of the San Juan Islands, which are located in the northwestern corner of Washington state in San Juan County, Washington.



The name "Orcas" is a shortened form of Horcasitas, or Juan Vicente de Güemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, the Viceroy of Mexico who sent an exploration expedition under Francisco de Eliza to the Pacific Northwest in 1791. During the voyage, Eliza explored part of the San Juan Islands. He did not apply the name Orcas specifically to Orcas Island, but rather to part of the archipelago. In 1847 Henry Kellett assigned the name Orcas to Orcas Island during his reorganization of the British Admiralty charts. It was this work of Kellett's that eliminated the patriotically American names that Charles Wilkes had given to many features of the San Juans during the Wilkes Expedition of 1838-1842. Wilkes had named Orcas Island "Hull Island", after Commodore Isaac Hull. Other features of Orcas Island named by Wilkes include "Ironsides Inlet" for East Sound, and "Guerrier Bay" for West Sound. One of the names Wilkes gave remains, that of Mount Constitution. Wilkes' names follow a pattern: Isaac Hull was the commander of "Old Ironsides" (the USS Constitution) and won fame after capturing the British warship Guerriere in the War of 1812.[1]


With a land area of 57.3 square miles (148.4 km²) and a population of 4,453 (2000 census), Orcas Island is slightly larger, but less populous, than neighboring San Juan Island. Orcas is shaped like a pair of saddlebags, separated by fjord-like East Sound, with Massacre Bay on the south side, and tiny Skull Island just off the coast. At the northern end of the island is the village of Eastsound, the largest population center on Orcas and the second largest in San Juan County. In 1989, the people of San Juan County asked the federal government to purchase a Lummi Nation site on Orcas Island's Madrona Point in Eastsound. The land was given to the Lummi who agreed to operate it as Madrona Point Park, a private preserve characterized by hundreds of twisting madrona trees sprouting from the rocky shoreline. Several years ago, the Lummi tribe declared the land sacred ancestral burial grounds and the park was closed following incidents of vandalism. Public access has been denied since that time.

Other, smaller towns - or hamlets - on the island include Orcas (where the inter-island/mainland ferry lands), West Sound (technically part of Eastsound), Deer Harbor, Rosario (technically part of Eastsound), Olga and Doe Bay.

Orcas Island is accessible by air via Eastsound Airport or water landings by seaplane as well as by water via the Washington State Ferry system or private watercraft. During the summer season, there is an island shuttle that runs from the ferry landing to Eastsound and other points.

Island access and sights

The state supports island access through the Washington State Ferries system. In addition, the island can be accessed through a variety of private air and sea charter services.

  • The Orcas Island Historical Museum is located down town Eastsound and is the only object-based, interpretive heritage facility for the island, with a permanent collection containing approximately 6000 objects, paper documents and photographs.
  • Orcas Island is also home to three historic camps: Camp Orkila, Four Winds Westward Ho and Camp Indralaya.
  • The Lambiel Museum is a small private collection in the home of local resident Leo Lambiel. Lambiel's museum contains a collection of works inspired by the San Juan Islands, including works by Helen Loggie. The museum is open to the public by appointment.[2]

Public services

The Orcas Island School District operates three schools: Orcas Island Elementary School housed in the island's historic Nellie S. Milton school building; Orcas Island Middle School; and Orcas Island High School. All of the island's public schools are located in Eastsound.

The Orcas Island Public Library is located in Eastsound and serves a population of approximately 5,000 card holders. The Orcas Island Library District is a junior-taxing district that funds the Orcas Island Public Library's operating budget through property taxes. The annual Library Fair sells books donated by Orcas Island residents and visitors, the proceeds of which are donated back to the Library's operating budget. The Library also sponsors life-long learning classes, the Crossroads lecture series, Sustainable Orcas Island, as well as other community outreach programs.

Moran State Park

View eastwards from Mount Constitution over the Rosario Strait with Mount Baker visible

Mount Constitution (elevation 2409 feet - 734 meters) is the highest point in the San Juan islands. The mountain is part of Moran State Park, the largest public recreation area in the San Juan Islands. Moran State Park encompasses over 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of woodland and has several lakes and numerous waterfalls.

External links


  1. ^ Phillips, James W. (1971). Washington State Place Names. University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-95158-3. 
  2. ^ Lambiel Museum at Sunset Magazine website - sunset.com

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Orcas Island — Blick vom Mount Constitution auf die Rosario Strait mit Mount Baker im Hintergrund Gewässer …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Orcas Island — Área no incorporada de los Estados Unidos …   Wikipedia Español

  • Orcas Island — Géographie Pays  États Unis Archipel Îles San Juan Localisation …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Orcas Island Airport — IATA: ESD – ICAO: KORS – FAA LID: ORS Summary Airport type Public Owner Port of Orcas …   Wikipedia

  • Kangaroo House Bed and Breakfast on Orcas Island — (Eastsound,США) Категория отеля: 3 звездочный отель Адрес …   Каталог отелей

  • Orcas Village, Washington — Orcas Village   Unincorporated community   Orcas Village, seen from the water (August 2007) …   Wikipedia

  • Orcas, Washington — may refer to: Orcas Island Orcas Village, Washington, on that island This disambiguation page lists articles about distinct geographical locations with the same name. If an internal link led you …   Wikipedia

  • Crane Island (Washington) — For other uses, see Crane (disambiguation). Crane Island is one of the San Juan Islands in San Juan County, Washington, USA. It lies just off the southwestern shore of Orcas Island, between it and the northwest corner of Shaw Island. Crane Island …   Wikipedia

  • Freeman Island — Vorlage:Infobox Insel/Wartung/Fläche fehltVorlage:Infobox Insel/Wartung/Höhe fehlt Freeman Island Blick auf Freeman Island vom Westufer von Orcas Island …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Freeman Island — is a tiny island in the San Juan Islands of the U.S. state of Washington, west of Orcas Island.The name was given by Charles Wilkes during the Wilkes Expedition of 1838 1842, originally as Freeman s Island , in honor of J.D. Freeman, the… …   Wikipedia

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