Westport, Point Chehalis

Westport, Point Chehalis

by | Jul 23, 2019

Westport is a community located on a peninsula known as Point Chehalis on the south side of the entrance to Grays Harbor, Washington. The Westport Marina is the largest marina on the outer coast of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Grays Harbor is named after Captain Robert Gray, a Boston fur trader, who discovered the embayment in May 1792. He christened it Bullfinch Harbor to honor the owner of one of his ships, but Lieutenant Joseph Whidbey, of Captain George Vancouver’s British expedition, visited the harbor a few months later and identified it on his charts as Gray’s Harbor.

Names for the area in the past include Peterson’s Point, Chehalis City, and Fort Chehalis. The latter name is for a U.S. Army fort established in 1860. The name was derived from the Lower Chehalis word “ts-a-lis” meaning “place of sand”. Early explorers pronounced the word “Chehalis” and gave this name to the river and the Native people who later became the Chehalis people or “People of the Sands”. The area was used regularly during the summer by local tribes such as the Willapa Chinook and Lower Chehalis. The first white settlers were Thomas Barker Speake and his family who arrived early in the summer of 1857. The area became a major logging port and by 1890 there were 13 sawmills around Grays Harbor. The Westport Lighthouse was among the first structures built, and completed on April 14, 1898. By 1914, Westport was a busy center for fishing, and today, Westport still relies on fishing, shellfish harvesting, seafood processing, and tourism to support the local economy.

The Grays Harbor Lighthouse was designed by Carl W. Leick. The octagonal tower stands 107 feet (33 m) tall and is the tallest lighthouse in Washington, and the third tallest on the U.S. west coast. The lighthouse is supported by a foundation of sandstone 12 feet (3.6 m) thick. The lighthouse walls are 4 feet (1.2 m) thick at the base and made of brick with a coating of cement on the exterior. A series of 135 metal steps, bolted to the tower walls lead to the lantern room. Windows originally provided light for the interior of the tower, but to cut down on maintenance, they were cemented over when the station was electrified. The lighthouse was commissioned on June 30, 1898. Read more here and here. Explore more of Westport here:

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