It might be an open secret that my husband and I love exploring. Anywhere we go, but also anywhere we stay. Washington State has to offer lots of marvelous sights, and over the years, I have shared quite a few places you might find interesting. What you might not know about yet is our love for lighthouses. Because we are fiends for all topics nautical, maps and old instruments included.
Back in Germany, I had made it a point to visit and possibly climb all the lighthouses I found on the North Sea islands on which I vacationed. That was long before I found my husband and even longer before I found that he also had that particular interest in these amazing constructions. I have to admit, I was mostly interested in what the view was like and what the lighthouse keepers’ abodes looked like. I was totally thrilled back in my first few months over here, in Washington State, when I found out that there are quite a few lighthouses on the shores of Puget Sound. And it was only here that I started looking into the dramatic history that is behind many of these beacons of light.
Some of these lighthouses are probably not even really perceived as such unless you are a boater. The tiny structure at the mouth of Gig Harbor, for example, is nothing that strikes the eye when you are passing by on the other side of the shore in your car or on foot. Unless you pass directly by it. Tanglewood Island Light off Fox Island is out of use and even less conspicuous. You can walk to the property limits of Boston Harbor Light, but the best view of it is from the water. And the same goes for the gorgeous lighthouse of Alki Point, perched on a rocky cliff and only visible to those who venture out on ferries, harbor cruises, or their own vessels.
Over time, we found that we could even be lighthouse keepers of sorts if we wanted to apply. The lighthouses at Brown’s Point, Robinson Point, and Point No Point offer the opportunity of booking one of the former keepers’ homes. You can vacation there, but you are also to see to the grounds and to guide the tourists who might come and want to get more than just a photo. The lighthouse on Dungeness Spit offers similar, by the way. Not sure whether this kind of lodging is still available after Covid hopefully hunkers down for good. Also, application lists were pretty long when everything was still open. Plus, I decided that I wouldn’t want to have total strangers invade my vacation home, either, just to show them around. I am a little too private for such an experience.
And then, there are lighthouses that have become part of bigger touristy spots. Such as Mukilteo lighthouse next to the ferry terminal for Whidbey Island – you bet that a wait for the next ferry gets shorter by walking the premises. Or that lighthouse on Point Wilson by Port Townsend – there is a maritime center close by, and campgrounds, and, of course, famous Fort Worden. And Admiralty Head Light on Whidbey Island is also one those places where you sometimes have to search for a parking spot if you decide to take a look.
There are even more lighthouses in Puget Sound than these just mentioned. Some are more easily accessible than others. All of them are places that remind you that the Sound is a treacherous body of water and that lighthouse keepers have been heroes to ease and even save the life of those who operate boats and ships of all sizes and for all kinds of purposes, aided by foghorns, their own life-saving boats, and their beacons’ specific light signal color and frequency.
I can’t remember when and where I found a book on Washington Lighthouses. But it became one of our goals to see as many of them as we could possibly “collect”. Here is the title if you are interested to explore them, too: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Lighthouses-Including-Admiralty/dp/1411641868. I think, my husband and I have been to almost all of them, except a few in the San Juan Islands. And we keep revisiting. Did I tell you that even our annual Christmas tree is hung with ornaments of these beacons of light?