A trip down Argyle on San Juan Island

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Argyle Avenue, which comes off of Spring Street and veers toward the southern end of the island, gets its name from the old town of Argyle, long gone. A rip-roaring place as legend has it; the “old town” was on the way to Cattle Point near the area of what is now Mill Street. This is still an interesting drive or bike trip nowadays as is described below.

Turn onto Argyle from Spring Street and see the bike shop on the left. You might want to rent a bicycle from these friendly folks and get a local map which will show you a nice trip around Turn Point and Pear Point if you feel like pedaling. On the right past the bike shop you will see some places you may not have noticed before which include a health club with an indoor swimming pool and a computer café. To the left you will see several houses that look “historic” in the part of town where it is encouraged to repair or preserve homes of a certain period. There is a lovely old craftsman style home where in 1970 a young Doug Cahail was picking rocks in the garden and ended up making a landmark discovery. He found a large triangle-shaped stone point, similar to an arrowhead. He had found Cascade points estimated to be 4,000 to 9,000 years old, according to Burke Museum archeologists. The San Juans were historically a thriving place for fishing, gathering, and hunting for Native Americans. The Lummis believed San Juan Island to be their place of origin and had at least 10 villages in the San Juans.

On the right opposite the historic preservation area you will see an old Victorian home which is now home to the Land Bank, a treasure for our county. Started years ago with local support, the land bank created a one percent tax on all new purchases of homes or land in San Juan County. Since that time the funds from the Land Bank have bought for the public use and enjoyment many properties throughout the islands, including scenic whale watching areas along the west side road near Dead Man’s Bay.

As you go up the hill, you will see that the elementary school road comes off of Argyle. On a Saturday this time of year you can turn off and go to the playing fields at the school to see eager Little Leaguers in action. Just past the grade school, back on Argyle, is the county fairgrounds and Skate Park and playground, also a popular weekend place. Venture further along Argyle and you will find that it this venerable old road becomes Cattle Point Road, taking you all the way to the National Park of American Camp. The American Camp Visitors Center has a display that gives a glimpse of life on San Juan as far back as 500 B.C. with artifacts of the fishing culture that includes items found on what is now the park land. You might enjoy turning in at Pickett’s Lane for a walk along the Salish Sea or perhaps turning off Pickett’s Lane to the right to see the redoubt and stroll through the meadows of ancient and modern times.

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