I consider myself a pharologist – one who has an interest in lighthouses. In fact, during many travels, I incorporate visiting lighthouses into some itineraries. When my husband and I spent three beautiful days on the Olympic Peninsula Coast of Washington State, it was no different, as on our third day we went to go see three lighthouses around the Olympic Peninsula Coast. Although in this case, one of the lighthouses no longer exists, except for the Keeper’s Quarters. And the other two lighthouses need to be observed from afar. But that didn’t matter because the forest and beach walks made seeing these three lighthouses worthwhile.
At the farthest northwesternmost corner of the continental United States, my husband and I enjoyed a one-and-a-half mile walk (round trip), mostly on a boardwalk, through the forest of Cape Flattery, where we reached an observation deck which looks out at views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Tatoosh Island. On this 20-acre island is the Cape Flattery Lighthouse.
The tower of the Cape Flattery Lighthouse is 66 feet tall, and is surrounded by the keeper’s dwelling. Originally holding a first-order Fresnel lens which was illuminated in 1857, today the automated lighthouse, the island, Cape Flattery, and Neah Bay (the town in this area) are all owned by the Makah Tribe. If you visit this area, please note that a Makah Recreation Pass is required to park at the trailhead of the Cape Flattery Trail.
A one mile walk (round trip) on the beach of Clallum Bay Spit County Park, also along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, brought me and my husband to the location where Slip Point Lighthouse used to exist. Today, only the Keeper’s Quarters still stands. The original lighthouse was actually a lens-lantern that was first lit in 1905, but was replaced with a light tower in 1916 with a fourth-order Fresnel lens. This was dismantled in 1951, replaced with a beacon and fog signal on a 50-foot white tower, and then fully automated in 1977.
Today the Keeper’s Quarters is shared by the Clallam Bay County Sheriff’s Department and Coast Guard personnel, and my guess is it was built by the same builders as the Burrows Island Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters, a place that my husband and I helped out on its restoration for a few weekends a couple of summers ago. As you will notice, the two Keeper’s Quarters look almost identical.
A late evening and a sunset brought my husband and me to Ruby Beach, where we could see in the far off distance views of Destruction Island and its lighthouse. This 33-acre tabletop island has a 92-foot brick lighthouse tower which was built in 1891, with a first-order Fresnel lens, placed in operation on January 1, 1892. Four keepers and their families typically lived on the island, which thus created a small community that “held its own school for the younger children, and raised chickens, cows, and vegetables to supplement the lighthouse rations delivered to the island.”
Automated in 1968, the original Fresnel lens of the Destruction Island Lighthouse is on display at the Westport Maritime Museum. My husband and I saw this museum and the lens when we visited Grays Harbor Lighthouse on a different trip along another part of the coast of Washington State. The lens is displayed in a large room, and can be turned on so that it rotates around and lights up the room. In fact, “a skylight above the lens lets natural sunlight dance on the prisms, while the lens slowly rotates, casting its twenty-four spotlights around the room.” A picture I took of this is in the Grays Harbor blog I linked to above.
Aside from our day in search of the three lighthouses around the Olympic Peninsula Coast, our other two beautiful days were spent renewing my love of walking near the ocean by strolling on Rialto Beach to “Hole in the Wall,” and Second Beach, and wandering on Shi Shi Beach to “Point of the Arches” so that my husband could check that off his bucket list.
Some information on Slip Point Lighthouse obtained from:
Lighthouse Friends – Slip Point
Some information, including the quotes, on Destruction Island Lighthouse obtained from:
Lighthouse Friends – Destruction Island
For more of my blogs on lighthouses, please visit my Lighthouse Category.
Some other information obtained from the book, Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula by Craig Romano.