Shaw Island

From Academic Kids

Shaw Island, Washington, in the San Juan Islands
Shaw Island, Washington, in the San Juan Islands
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Shaw Island is the smallest of the San Juan Islands served by the Washington State Ferries. The island has a small year-round population, with only a slight increase during tourist season. Not all of the ferry system's San Juan runs stop there. The Wilkes Expedition named the island after John Shaw, a naval officer.

Shaw is unique, among those islands served by the state ferries, in having virtually no commercial or tourist-oriented facilities other than two smallish parks, most of the island being privately owned by people who like their privacy. Roads are mostly inland and afford little access to, or even views of, the shoreline. There are 11.5 miles of seal-coated and 2.37 miles of gravel public roads on Shaw. The primary roads are three loops in the interior of the island, with branches to the ferry dock, a county park, Neck Point, and Broken Point, plus a few other minor ones.

For more than two decades, one of the unique things about Shaw has been that three nuns from the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist run the island's only store and the ferry dock. There are two other Catholic orders of nuns on Shaw: the Order of the Benedictines--who run a monastery, Our Lady of the Rock--and the Sisters of Mercy. In late 2003, the Franciscans announced plans to sell the store, including the adjacent small marina, and leave the island. As expected, the sale (to a couple that has lived on Shaw since 1977) closed by June 2004, with the nuns leaving June 2, although they are expected to return August 7 for a barn dance and celebration.

Shaw has a one-room schoolhouse (a room was recently added to serve as a computer center, making it technically a two-room schoolhouse) that serves elementary and junior high students. It is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. After eighth grade, students must choose to study on one of the larger islands: Lopez, Orcas, or San Juan. Shaw is also home to a small library and a small museum.

Also the name of an online comic Shaw Island (, written by Zach Stroum and set mainly on the island.

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