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East Sound

A small community, though the largest on Orcas Island is at the head of East Sound. It was named for the body of water on which it is located. Comfortable old houses with orchards are scattered behind the few frame business buildings along the bay shore.

This seven mile long bay, with an average width of two to three miles is in the central area of Orcas Island extending north to almost bisect the island. It is named, in conjunction with West Sound, for its position on Orcas Island. In 1841, Charles Wilkes charted it as Ironside Inlet, for the nickname of the famous U.S. frigate Constitution.

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Emmanuel Episcopal Church is associated with the earliest settlement of the San Juan Islands by British-born emigrants. The building is the earliest church in the San Juan Islands, and as such, commemorates the first settlement period like no other historic property in the islands. Although concurrent settlement of the San Juan Islands by American and British citizens culminated in a peaceful alignment of British (Canadian) and American lands, the British character of the islands is strongly evident, due in part to historic remnants such as the Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Although the exterior reflects periods of remodeling and addition which have diminished the building’s architectural merit, sufficient historic fabric remains to evoke the period of significance.

Fishing Bay

Fishing Bay is on the northwest shore of East Sound directly southwest of the town of East Sound in northeast San Juan County. In 1851, this name was charted by Capt. Henry Richards of the British admiralty survey, because of good fishing found by members of his crew.

North Beach

North Beach is a seaside resort at the north end of Orcas Island, facing the Strait of Georgia in northeast San Juan County. The resort area offers saltwater fishing and was named because it is the most northerly of beaches on Orcas Island. a seaside resort district. Inn and cabin accommodations, riding horses, sand-beach bathing, salmon-trolling outfits, and boats ranging from powered skiffs to small yachts, are available here. Northward, in Georgia Strait, lie the rocky Sucia Islands, flanked on the northwest and southeast by Patos and Matia Islands.

Light Station

The Queen Anne-style Light Station on Patos Island dates to 1893 and was originally outfitted with a Fresnel lens. It is listed in the National Register. Patos Island is a small, whale-shaped island named by Lieut. Dionisio Galiano in 1792 as Isla de Patos which translates to Island of Ducks. In 1841, the Wilkes Expedition charted it as Gourd Island, but Capt. Henry Kellett of the British admiralty survey changed it back to the Spanish name in 1847. In 1854, the U.S. Coast Survey adopted the present name. The Lummi name was Klu-whit-eton, which means “abundant oysters.”

Sucia Island

Sucia Island was named by Lieutenant Eliza from a Spanish word meaning “foul.” Patos (Sp. “ducks”) was probably named for its wild fowl. The Sucia Islands have a peculiar formation, owing to alternating strata of rock, one resistant, the other yielding to erosion by sea water. Fossil Bay, at Sucia’s southern end, is rich in paleontological specimens: a clay bank here once yielded the perfect foreleg and hoof of a tiny prehistoric horse; these specimens were sent to the Smithsonian Institution.

Ship Bay

Ship Bay is a small shallow bay at the head of East Sound. The bay is surrounded by resorts and homes and offers a good anchorage for small ships.

Orcas Island Historical Museum

Orcas Island Historical Museum, made up of a collection of early homesteader cabins. Several other structures of older vintage in Eastsound house restaurants and specialty shops catering to the tourist trade.

Waldron Island

Waldron Island, on the northwest, is seen to advantage from this point. Sheep-raising is the island’s leading occupation. Quarries there once supplied sandstone for jetties at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Ethan Allen House Museum contains a large collection of artifacts, gathered over a lifetime by a descendant of the Revolutionary War hero, comprising more than 3,000 items, including arrowheads, spearheads, Native American baskets, pottery, stone dishes, grinding implements, paint pots, ornaments, and ceremonial pieces. While the house museum no longer exists, the National Register-listed Krumdiack Homestead remains. Dating to 1890, the homestead, still under private ownership, represents early pioneer settlement in the San Juan Islands.