Located on the north end of San Juan Island, Roche Harbor (360/378-2155 or 800/451-8910, www.rocheharbor.com) is a delicious step into the past. In 1886, John S. McMillin established the Roche Harbor Lime & Cement Co., mining lime deposits from 13 hillside quarries and processing the lime in brick-lined kilns along the shore.
By the 1890s this was the largest lime works west of the Mississippi and required 4,000 acres of forest just to keep the kilns running. McMillin built a company town for his employees, had warehouses that extended hundreds of feet into the bay, and operated a general store on the wharf.
His Hotel de Haro began as a log bunkhouse but later grew into the distinctive three-story wood structure of today. McMillin’s home is now a waterside restaurant, facing the protected harbor filled with sailboats.
Take some time to explore the area around the hotel (now on the National Register of Historic Places) and the little New England–style Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel, built in 1892, and the only privately owned Catholic church in the nation. The bizarre family mausoleum (named "Afterglow Vista," no less) is approximately a mile from the hotel.
Located north of the cottages and a quarter-mile hike up a dirt side road, the mausoleum’s centerpiece is a stone temple packed with Masonic symbols and containing the family’s ashes in chairs around a limestone table. There’s even a broken column symbolizing the "unfinished state" of life, but the planned bronze dome was never added to this once-grandiose mausoleum. Pick up a brochure describing the mausoleum inside Hotel de Haro.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition