Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mukilteo Lighthouse

Location: Mukilteo, Washington
WGS-84 (GPS)47°56′55.5″N 122°18′22.5″W47.94875°N 122.30625°W

Year first lit: 1906
Automated: 1979
Foundation: Surface
Construction: Wood
Tower shape: Octagonal
Height: 38 ft
Light Cycle: Blinking white light once every 5 seconds.
Original lens: Fourth Order Fresnel lens

This weekend started, where Jean and I finally got away for a break. We flew into Seattle and took an airport shuttle to the Edgewater Hotel near Downtown facing the Sound. We spent the day wondering around and enjoying the ambiance of the Pier. The weather was great better than the Bay Area, everyone was eating out side and dressed mainly in shorts.

Seattle has a laid back feel to it. I was hobbling along with a gammy knee. We walked along the length of the pier, it was interesting to watch people lining up to get on their Alaskan Cruise. This is a main port for cruises to the North.

We had a great meal in the Edgewater on Friday night, watching a wonderful sunset on the Puget Sound. It was so romantic, I just sat back and drank the nectarine of tranquility.

Saturday, Jean rented a car and we decided to head to Whidbey Island to see Admiralty Lighthouse. Our directions brought through Mukilteo. To my surprise there
was a beautiful set of buildings sitting on the ferry’s port.
While we were waiting for the Ferry I had the opportunity to take some pictures. Also I decided I was going to spend sometime here on the way back. It was around 10:00 am in the morning.

We got back from the Island around 4:00 pm. I still had 1 hour to spend at the Lighthouse before it closed. It was at this time my wife Jean met the people in the Gift Shop. An elderly Gentleman, and 2 ladies in retirement age. Their families had come from the west of Ireland. That piqued jeans interests as she comes from Mayo. So they spent some time swapping stories.
Of the 4 buildings I spent most of my time in two, the gift shop, and the lighthouse. They are kept in pristine condition. The lawn is well maintained and the picket fence adds admirably to the picturesque setting.

This was a great, relaxing weekend with my wife. Definitely worth another trip.

"Mukilteo" is an English adaptation of an indigenous American phrase “good for camping." The Native Indian used this as a camping ground during the winter. 1792, May 31, Captain George Vancouver anchored his ship, came ashore. When he saw the wild pink roses covering the place, he named it Rose Point.1838-43, Lt. Charles Wilkes exploration changed renamed it to Elliot Point. It was also here in Jan 22, 1885, the Governor of Washington Territory, Isaac Stevens, signed a pact with local Indian tribes. He ironed out the Treaty of Point Elliot. From which the Indian wars ceased, and the Tulalip Indian Reservation was established, and white settler began to move into area in earnest. A copy of the treaty is on display at the Mukilteo Lighthouse.

Upon this historic land was Mukilteo lighthouse built. 1901, the Lighthouse Board determined a lighthouse at Point Elliot would be of assistance to ships bound for "the harbor of Everett, Washington, to ships going up Possession Sound and Saratoga Passage and by way of Deception Pass. $27,000 was allocated for the building of the light station

1905, Construction began, on a 2.6-acre site. The structure was a wooden-framed; it was one of a few lighthouses made from wood, it had an octagonal tower with a fog signal building attached. The 35-foot-tall lighthouse was equipped with a fourth-order rotating Fresnel lens manufactured by L. Suatter & CIE of Paris, blinking a white light every five seconds,. The fog signal was a Daboll trumpet invented by a MR C L Daboll of Connecticut It was an air Trumpet, powered by a coal fired hot air engine which compressed the air in a cylinder on which a reed horn was on top. It also housed dwellings for 2 other Light keepers’, a workshop, oil room and coal room and a well which was powered by a windmill that supplied water for Mukilteo. The tank supported 1,000 gallons water,..

The lighthouse was lit in 1906. The first Lighthouse keeper was Peter Christiansen. He came from Norway and had served with the merchant marines and the US Navy. He performed as the principle keeper until his death in 1925. The light was modified in 1927, it became electric and the rotating Fresnel lens was replaced with a stationary lens. 1954 one acre from the Light station’s southwest corner was transferred from the Coast Guard to Washington State Parks to become part of Mukilteo State Park.1960,
Coast Guard planned to replace the lens with a more modern optic, an airport beacon , but faced local opposition who did not want the light to change. Today they are 2 Fresnel Lens on display. The Fixed 4th order in the Tower, and multi-bull's-eyed
fourth-order Fresnel lens on display from the Desdemona Sands Lighthouse. 1977, the lighthouse was place in the National Register of Historic Places. 1979, LAMP was put in place by the coast guard and The light and fog signal were automated. 1981, a remote fog sensor was installed. The sensor took readings based upon light reflections and if needed, triggers the fog horn. A couple of Admirals lived in luxury condominiums next to the station; On Moonlit nights and sunny days the fog sensor was triggering the signal. The Admirals were annoyed. The Coast Guard was sent to investigate the problem. After a month, they found that the sensor was tricked by the sun or moon reflecting off a white seawall, built to resist storm waves around the light station. The Coast Guard painted seawall with black paint, problem solved.

1991 the city of Mukilteo leased the lighthouse from the Coast Guard, but the navigational equipment is maintained by the Coast guard. The Mukilteo Historical Society, a friendly group of elderly citizens volunteers their time to look after, preserve and maintain the grounds.

"Mukilteo's Landmark: The Lighthouse Story," Bruce Brown and Glen Pickus, The Mukilteo Beacon.
"They All Shine On," Rebecca Carr, The Mukilteo Beacon.
"Historical Marker Placed at Mukilteo Lighthouse," Lighthouse Digest.
Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, Randy Leffingwell and Pamela Welty, 2000.
Umbrella Guide to Washington Lighthouses.
Sharlene and Ted Nelson, Umbrella Guide to Oregon Lighthouses

Directions: The Mukilteo lighthouse is near the landing of the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry. From I-5, take exit 189 west, and follow signs to the Mukilteo ferry. From the west take the Whidbey Island ferry from Clinton to Mukilteo. The lighthouse and grounds closes around 4:30 PM

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