Friday, July 24, 2009

Admiralty Head Lighthouse

Location: Fort Casey State Park, Coupeville on Whidbey island, Washington
Coordinates WGS-84 (GPS) 48°09′38.75″N 122°40′52.2″W48.1607639°N 122.681167°W
Year first lit: 1858
Deactivated: 1922
Foundation: Surface
Construction: Brick and Stucco, Californian Spanish
Height: 30 ft (120 ft above sea level)
Tower shape: Conical, with an attached Spanish-style structure, 2-story residence
Markings/Pattern: white brick tower with black lantern
Original lens: Fourth order Fresnel lens (removed in 1927)

Our journey continued from Mukilteo to Clinton on the Ferry. I love ferries, its a little mini adventure all by itself. About 10 – 15 minutes across the water. A chance to wander the decks and enjoy the fresh air. This gave me the opportunity to take some shots of Mukilteo Lighthouse from the water perspective. In addition, I was able to take a few shots of the surrounding views. Water has a way of bringing tranquility into my mind. I would have no objection in spending the remainder of my life wandering the world on its ocean waves. I have to admit that on this trip I was enjoying myself and totally at ease within my body.

Once we arrived on the other side of the water, Clinton. It was a straight run from Clinton to Admiralty Head, near Fort Casey on the west side of the island. I had my Garmin GPS programmed with the address. I sat back in the rented car and enjoyed the journey as Jean drove. It afforded me the chance to drink in the nectar of Gods creation. Open countryside, small towns and narrow roads. Green fields, flowers, and cloud filled blue skies, accompanied by the fine weather and warm temperatures.

Our drive was uneventful; we enjoyed the country farms along the way and observed the long single lane of traffic as it extended in front of us. It stretched out for quite a distance. We did not see too many places for eating, and I was getting peckish, the stomach was starting to rumble. When we arrived at the park, the lighthouse was easy to find. It was quaintly protruding as I observed it from beyond a green mound in the parking lot. And it was not as isolated as I thought it would be. The area had many people flying their kites in the park. The lighthouse itself was under repair, and that meant I was going to be creative in what I could shoot.

Whidbey Island, Being so far from San Francisco, meant that it would be unlikely I would be returning anytime soon.

The lighthouse was also surrounded by remnants of ramparts from the old army fort, beautiful views of Puget Sound, and wonderful lushes’ green fields that looked like the meadows of Ireland. After spending sometime circling the lighthouse and taking as many pictures I could, eventually I entered the lighthouse. They had a 4th order Bulls eye Fresnel lens on display in the gift shop. Most of the building was off limits due to renovations. I was hoping to see and take some pictures of the keepers living quarters. Climbing stairs to the Tower was dull, as the stairs did not have the charm of other towers, and neither did the view from the tower, with the lack of a mounted lens and only frosted/unclear windows to look from. I could not get a good view from inside the tower. I had more fun on the ground.

Overall the Lighthouse was looking good and it was encouraging to see the renovations. I only encountered two people worth mentioning, a guy outside smoking, where we joked about it being more acceptable to smoke a joint than a cigarette. The other person was the lighthouse volunteer. She was very friendly, full of local information on the ferries and alternate routes back to Seattle. These volunteers are the new keepers of the light and their job is really to save the iconic structure from ravages of time. These are the new tenders who fill the cracks, repair the fences, restore the structures and bring a warmth and new life the beacons of yesterday. I was a bit surprised that she made her way to Seattle everyday. Apparently these people who live on the Sound, many of them work in Seattle.

On our way back, we dropped into a Pizza place, it was deserted. I asked for coffee to go along with the pizza to be told they did not sell coffee as it would be competition for the gas station who sold coffee, and they would have to dump the pot every night. It was the local hangout for the kids in the area. We made our way back to the Ferry, arrived back in Mukilteo, just in time for one more visit to the lighthouse.

We arrived back in Seattle, around 7:00, dropped off the rental. Paid a visit to farmers market, which was fun. It’s worth a walk around; we had dinner in an Irish Pub and finished the evening in Edgewater, with a look out on the Sound and a few drinks.

Admiralty Head got it’s the name from Admiralty Inlet. On June 2, 1792, Captain George Vancouver named Admiralty Inlet, in honor of the British Navy’s Board of Admiralty. 1841, It was renamed to Red Bluff by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, commander of the U. S. Exploring Expedition. Around 1853 it was once again renamed to Kellogg Point by a homesteader Dr. John Coe Kellogg.

The area was not a hazardous area for sea going vessels, but due to volume of ships entering the Sound, navigation points where needed.1856, Congress raised enough money to build one lighthouse In 1858 the USLB purchased 10 acres of land costing $400, from Dr Kellogg. The land was to used for the building the lighthouse of Cape Cod style. The lighthouse was a two story building with a square wooden tower on the roof. It had the typical color white. The tower was 40 ft high, for a total of 108 ft above sea level, it was fitted with a fixed 4th order Fresnel lens, the lamp was a whale oil lamp. Jan 21 1861, the Lens beacon first shun its light across the Sound. Its white light was visible for 16 miles and for a 270 degree area. The lighthouse was completed, just before the outbreak of the Civil War. It was one of the West's earliest navigational aids. 1880, its whale oil lamp was converted to kerosene. In 1896, the light was relocated, several hundred feet from its original location, relinquishing the building and site to the U.S. Army. The Red Bluff wooden lighthouse was demolished to make room for soldiers and guns in Fort Casey.

1903,The army core of engineers built the replacement lighthouse near the relocated lighthouse, constructed of brick and stucco. The building was a Californian Spanish style . It was the last brick lighthouse designed by German architect Carl Leick. It had the typical white painting, along with a green trim and a red roof. The Tower had a black lantern, the 4th order Fresnel lens was removed from the old building and placed in the 30ft conical tower. June 25th the new Beacon was operational, The new keepers residence had 3 upstair bedrooms, a dining room, living room, laundry room. Kitchen and a indoor bathroom. 1919, the united states lighthouse board changed the light from white to red. 1920s with the advent of the steamship, the navigational light was no longer needed. July 1 1922 the lighthouse was decommissioned. 1927 the iron and glass lantern room was moved to New Dungeness Lighthouse , the Fresnel lens went missing and over the years the lighthouse fell into disrepair.

1952 Washington State Parks in conjunction with the Island Historical Society, embarked on a major restoration of the lighthouse. The 30 foot (9 m) tall lighthouse has since been restored by the Parks Commission. It is used as an interpretive center by a local non-profit group known as the "Lighthouse Environmental Program" and is only closed in January and February. It is open for visitors the other 10 months on a seasonal schedule available at the admiraltyhead.wsu.e9du website.

• Admiralty Head Lighthouse home page
• National Park Service - Historic light stations - Admiralty Head Light
• United States Coast Guard - Historic Light Station Information & Photography - Washington

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