Point Robinson, Maury Island

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Point Robinson, Maury Island

by | Mar 9, 2021

Point Robinson is the eastern point of Maury Island in Puget Sound, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Seattle and 10 miles (16 km) north-northeast of Tacoma, Washington. The point was named in 1841 by the Wilkes Expedition in honor of John Robinson, who served as quartermaster for the exploring party. Maury Island was also named by the Wilkes Expedition, in honor of William Lewis Maury who between 1863 and 1864 raided Union ships on behalf of the Confederacy. Maury Island is tied to Vashon Island by a narrow tidal isthmus that was filled in 1913 to make a dry portage and is now paved with an all-weather road.

In 1879, the Lighthouse Board recommended that a steam-powered fog whistle be constructed at Point Robinson to serve vessel traffic to and from Tacoma which was the prospective terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Development of a navigational aid at Point Robinson began in 1884 when 24 acres (10 ha) of private land was purchased. The fog signal station was opened on July 1, 1885. The original coal-burning boiler and steam whistle came from Oregon’s Point Adams Light. A light keeper’s house was built nearby, and in 1907, a second keeper’s residence was added.

The current lighthouse, featuring an octagonal tower 38 feet (12 m) high was completed in 1915. This is identical to the lighthouse at Alki Point near Seattle. A fog signal powered by compressed air was installed in the new lighthouse to replace the station’s steam whistle, and three fog horns projected from the north, east, and south walls of the lighthouse to distribute sound. The lighthouse has been fully automated since 1978. In 1989, the Coast Guard constructed a tower 100 feet (30 m) high for radar and radio to help Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Service in south Puget Sound. A differential global positioning system was added to the facility in the early 1990s to aid local mariners. Today, Point Robinson is a shoreline park and historical and marine conservancy of 10.0 acres (4 ha). The property conserves an extensive sandy beach shoreline that wraps around the point, a saltwater marsh, and woodlands. Point Robinson Stewards have fully restored the two keepers’ quarters on the property for use as rentals. All proceeds from these rentals go back into the park’s restoration and maintenance. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Robinson here:

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This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2019 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

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