Posts Tagged With: Lighthouse

Happy Anniversary North Head Lighthouse – Ilwaco, Washington

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North Head Lighthouse

Did you know that the North Head Lighthouse on the south end of the Long Beach Peninsula celebrates its anniversary every year? And this year was the 116th anniversary, so we had to head out to see what was going on.

I had read there was a shuttle from the store at Cape Disappointment State Park, but of course, like everyone else, we first had to make the trip up to the lighthouse parking lot to see if there was a spot. There wasn’t. So we went back down and went to the parking lot and caught the shuttle. Very smooth and easy, very little waiting. Until we got up to the parking lot and had to wait for all those other people (who also just had to see if there was a parking spot) to get out of the way.

Then it was just a short, easy walk out to the lighthouse. What a view! The day was just right, with a nice breeze and mostly clear skies.

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We spent some time enjoying looking out as far as we could see, then headed into the lighthouse. The entry room was very small, with only space for a few people. We were informed that we would need to wait for the current group to come back downstairs as they only allowed about eight people in at a time. We spent the time looking at the items in the room, the pot-bellied stove, and especially the map of shipwrecks in the area.

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It wasn’t long before it was our turn and we stepped through a short hallway into an inner room. There the guide started telling us the story of the lighthouse. The first thing she pointed out was the decorative mosaic tiles on the floor. She said that the designer wanted to put his best efforts into this lighthouse and this is the only one with this particular added feature.

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Then we slowly headed up the spiral staircase. We were told this was a free-standing staircase. It was only bolted into the landing and was not supported by any legs of any kind.

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As we headed on up, the stairs got more narrow until we finally emerged into the light room. There was another guide who then told us the history of the lighthouse, which began operation in 1898. One of the most interesting aspects to learn about was that each lighthouse has a “code” and the light blinks the “code”.

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After enjoying the view, we headed back downstairs and made another little easy hike up to the gift store. We were thrilled to see they had the shipwreck map there and immediately bought it, along with a Lighthouse Passport. We got it stamped and now we have it to take with us to every lighthouse we visit!

Next we headed over to the Lightkeeper’s House, which can be rented. There, wonderful volunteers were serving drinks and cake. Unfortunately, they had so many more visitors than they had had previous years that they were out of cake and were waiting for more to arrive. We toured the house but didn’t stay for cake, much to Josh’s disappointment.

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Modern residence, available for rent

We headed back to catch the shuttle back to our car. That’s when a confused raccoon decided to join the group and created all kinds of excitement.

1-IMG_8600The North Head Lighthouse is open for tours from May-September. Children under 17 are free, and adults are only $2.50.

 

 

 

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Categories: Historical, Outdoors, Roadside Attraction | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Lighting History – Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Whidbey Island, WA

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Admiralty Head Lighthouse

Lighthouse lovers must check out the simple little Admiralty Head Lighthouse. It’s located on Whidbey Island inside Fort Casey property. The original lighthouse was built in 1861, 36 years before construction began on Ft. Casey! When the land was needed for gun batteries, the wooden lighthouse was moved near where the current lighthouse is. Then a new stucco lighthouse was built in 1903 and has 18-inch-thick walls! The old wooden lighthouse was eventually torn down but the wood was reused in a home on the island.

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Fresnel Lens

These lighthouses helped guide numerous ships into Whidbey Island safely. Long-ago mariners used the winds blowing through the area to sail into the island. The light that was used until 1922 was called a “Fresnel Lens” which was lit with a whale oil lamp. According to a sign in the lighthouse:

“Fresnel Fourth Order Lens. The Fresnel Lens, developed in France by Augustine Fresnel in 1822 has been used worldwide to aid navigation. Handcrafted of brass and glass, these lenses are of such high quality that their light is just as effective as that produced by the most modern system. Many are still in use today.”

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Interpretive Signs

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Down the Spiral Staircase

On the bottom floor there are rooms that include interpretive signs detailing the story of the area, the fort, and the lighthouse, as well as historical items such as a replica light (the whereabouts of the original Fresnel lens is unknown.) Artifacts of life during the early years are also displayed, along with a scale model of the fort. A small gift-shop is also open on the bottom floor where you can purchase souvenirs and information. Climb the spiral staircase (who doesn’t love spiral staircases?!) and go up to the top where you can look out and see the Olympics, Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Careful, though, it is a small area and you may have to wait your turn going up or down.

The property is now owned by Washington State Parks and is operated in partnership with the Washington State University Extension, which provides the volunteers. The volunteers are very knowledgeable and friendly and willing to answer any questions you may have.

It’s not a huge lighthouse, but it is well-kept and the location and scenery are spectacular. The fort and its structures are often a pleasant surprise to many visitors who thought they were just coming to see the lighthouse but find themselves running through the batteries with flashlights just like the kids. No food concessionaires are on site, so a picnic lunch would be thoroughly enjoyed along with the expansive views.

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Views!

Hours are 11am-5pm. Note that it is scheduled to be closed during January and February. Admission is free, donations are accepted.

Getting there: Whidbey Island can be accessed by land over the Deception Pass Bridge, or by ferry from Port Townsend or Mukilteo-Clinton. Take Highway 20 to Coupeville, then take Engle Road to Fort Casey.

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Views!

Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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