Point Wilson Light Station, Fort Worden

Point Wilson Light Station, Fort Worden

by | Apr 2, 2019

The Point Wilson Light is an active aid to navigation located in Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend, Washington. Point Wilson is a broad spit extending from a headland on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula that provides an important landmark for the entrance to Admiralty Inlet, the major waterway connecting the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Point Wilson was named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 after his colleague Captain George Wilson, who was an officer in the Royal Navy and saw service in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

This critical turning point for ships bound for Seattle and Tacoma was first marked in 1865 by a ship’s bell hung in Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend. In 1879, a lighthouse was built on the point consisting of a square wooden tower on the roof of a two-story keeper’s house. The station included a fog signal building with a steam-powered whistle. High tides and stormy weather occasionally caused severe erosion where the tower was built. In 1886, a picket fence was built to catch and accumulate drifting sand. However, by 1904, much of the beach had eroded, threatening the integrity of the lighthouse. The problem was temporarily fixed with 1,542 tons (1,398,879 kg) of stone reinforcement piled on the eastern and northern sides of the point.

In 1914, a new lighthouse was built of reinforced concrete with an octagonal tower 46 feet (14 m) tall and a beacon height of 51 feet (16 m), which made it the tallest light on Puget Sound. The tower on the original lighthouse was removed and the building was used as a residence. The light station was automated in 1976 and is now monitored remotely from the Coast Guard Air Station at Port Angeles. Point Wilson is still under serious threat from shoreline erosion and rising sea levels. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Wilson here:

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