Driftwood from Jackson Beach, an old limestone quarry cart from Roche Harbor, and a replica of the 1800s era kiln furnaces using authentic bricks and metal — these are just a few of the accents going into the Museum of History and Industry at San Juan Historical Museum.
The Museum focuses on four main industries that helped shape the San Juan Islands; lime, logging, farming and fishing. Each gets its own wing in a mid-19th century replica barn of 2,700 square feet, with intricate local touches to help tell the story of the people who supported those industries. Just one example is of the metal salmon that hang from the ceiling in the fishing wing, designed by a loc
al high schooler and then crafted by a local artisan.
According to Museum Director Kevin Loftus, the museum decided to for go debts and loans, and instead only take on what was allowed through donations and grants. Currently the lime and logging wings are the closest to completion since they received specific donations, while the farming wing has not yet started, and the fishing wing is in the early stages of work. Loftus estimates just a few weeks until the lime and logging wings are deemed ready, though he says the exhibits will be an evolving project.
“We’re never going to be completely done,” Loftus said. “We’ll always be shifting and adding. It also depends on how fast the money comes.”
The museum gives a chance to look into the industries that are largely of the past now, as lime production, and large scale fishing and logging have ceased to exist on the island.
Each exhibit will be designed to get visitors involved. One ambitious part of the fishing section will let people interact with a screen, to catch and pull in fish with a net. In the main entrance with the topographic map of San Juan Island, little pinpoints light up when pressing a button next to a historic site name.
According to Loftus, the limited floor space will be made up for by using the walls for videos and oral story telling, in addition to photos and memorabilia. A “Tools of the Trade” section will show off the types of equipment the farmers and loggers used, all authentic and gathered from the island.
“At this point, we’re really looking for more photos and artifacts, personal recollections, though we won’t take everything thrown our way,” Loftus said. “We really want to stress that we’re building this to be a community asset.”
The Museum will be host to the Fourth of July Pig War Picnic, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, this Saturday. Loftus and other museum staff will be at the museum to answer any questions, and the exhibits will be open to view the progress.