James Theodore Geoghegan

James Theodore Geoghegan's lens into the past

Through his 2,500 photograph collection, Geoghegan provides us insight to what life on Orcas Island was like in the past.

James Theodore Geoghegan (1869-1953) spent time throughout the West coast during his life as he spent portions of his life in California, Washington, and Alaska. After leaving England with his family as a child, Geoghegan spent much of his childhood on Orcas Island and easily settled into life on the island. After financial difficulty on Orcas, Geoghegan moved to Seattle and then later found work in Alaska. His time in Alaska introduced him to photography and soon he began to capture life through his camera lens.

After the death of his mother, Geoghegan returned to Orcas Island and began the life of a family man and continued developing his passion for photography. During his years on Orcas from 1914 to 1941, Geoghegan captured everyday life on the island and was able to take more than 2,500 photographs of islanders working, relaxing, and playing. Among the photos he took, many included track meets, school events, children playing by the water, and much more.

Geoghegan spent a great deal of time at Moran State Park and captured much of what life was like in the park during its earliest years. Several photographs capture play around Cascade Lake, work on Mount Constitution, and the lives of past within the iconic Moran State Park scenes we enjoy today.

These photos serve as an important historical catalog of what life on the island was like during the early years of settlement. Through these photos, we can try to imagine what Orcas was like in the past and visit the same spots the people of the past once stood in.