One of the things Eileen and I love to do when heading out to visit our family and friends (yes, I still have a couple of them!) in Bellevue/Seattle, Wa. is to travel along the Pacific coastline. Because of the complex geological history of the Pacific Northwest, the geography of the Pacific Coast is diversely varied. The need for lighthouses is very obvious and we love to visit and shoot them.
On our trip to Olympic National Park the first lighthouse we went to shoot was the Cape Flattery Lighthouse which was built in 1854. Its first light was displayed s in 1857 and was Washington Territory’s third lighthouse. Although closed to the public, it can be viewed from Cape Flattery via a short 30 minute walk which is what we did. The island the lighthouse lies on is named Tatoosh Island after a Native American chief of the Makah Tribe. It is the farthest north lighthouse on the West Coast of the continental United States.The Admiralty Head Lightis a lighthouse located in Fort Casey State Park near Coupeville on Whidbey Island, Washington. The original Red Bluff wooden lighthouse was completed during the months just prior to the Civil War and was among the West’s earliest navigational aids. This light welcomed Puget Sound marine traffic to Admiralty Inlet. In 1890, with construction of Fort Casey to protect Admiralty Inlet, the light was relocated and was demolished to make room for soldiers and guns in Fort Casey. The replacement lighthouse was built in 1903 but was discontinued in 1922 and the lantern moved to the New Dungeness Lighthouse in 1927. The lighthouse has since been restored by the Washington State Parks and is open to the public throughout the year.
On our way home from the Olympic Peninsula Eileen and I decided to visit the New Dungeness Lighthouse which is located on the Dungeness Spit in the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge near the town of Sequim. Unfortunately we didn’t realize that in order to get to the lighthouse it was necessary to walk 5 miles along the coast and we did not have enough time for this hike.
The original New Dungeness lighthouse was a 1 ½ story duplex with a tower rising from the roof. The tower stood at 100 feet (30 m) painted black on the top half and white on the lower section. Over time, the tower developed structural cracks from the artillery at nearby forts. In 1927, the cracks in the tower were so severe that the lighthouse inspector feared that the tower would topple. It was decided that year that the tower would be lowered to its current height of 63 feet. In 1994, the Dungeness Lighthouse was one of the few lighthouses in the United States to have a full-time keeper when the Coast Guard boarded up all the windows at the station, checked all the electrical equipment and left. The station didn’t stay boarded up long. Within months, the United States Lighthouse Society started the New Dungeness chapter and were able to secure a lease from the Coast Guard. The station has been completely restored. Today, the lighthouse is manned weekly by society members who pay a fee to stay at the light.
In Seattle, the West Point Light, also known as the Discovery Park Lighthouse, is a 23-foot-high lighthouse on Seattle, Washington’s West Point which juts into Puget Sound. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It became automated in 1985, the last station in Washington to do so. Seattle Parks and Recreation has been looking for groups to help maintain the light due to their lack of funding, and in the future, hopes to have the station open to the public.