Point No Point, Admiralty Inlet

Point No Point, Admiralty Inlet

by | Jun 20, 2022

Point No Point is a sand spit on the northern end of the Kitsap Peninsula, between Norwegian Point to the northwest and Pilot Point to the southeast, near the southern end of Admiralty Inlet that connects the Salish Sea with Puget Sound, about 8 miles (13 km) north of Kingston and 1.3 miles (2.1 km) southeast of Hansville, Washington. In 1841, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition approached the spit from the north thinking it was a substantial point. On finding that it was much smaller than he had expected, Wilkes designated the spit Point No Point. The Coast Salish people reputedly had a more descriptive name for the point ‘Hahd-skus’, meaning long nose. Point No Point is an accretionary feature formed by the convergence of two sediment drift cells. Sand is in constant motion along the Puget Sound coastline despite usually being seen and considered sedentary. Waves breaking at an angle to the shoreline create an alongshore or littoral current that flows parallel to the coast. This current and the turbulence of breaking waves serve to suspend the sand and are essential factors involved in moving sand along the shoreline. As waves approach the beach at an angle, the up-rush of water, or swash, moves sand at an angle onto the shoreface. The backwash of water rushes down the shoreface perpendicular to the shoreline or at a slight downcoast angle, thus creating a zigzag movement of sand. This zigzag motion effectively results in a net current direction parallel to the shoreline. Littoral drift refers to the movement of entrained sand grains in the direction of the longshore current, essentially moving sand from one coastal location to the next and so on until the sand is eventually lost to the littoral system. A drift cell contains a complete cycle of sedimentation including sources, transport paths, and sinks. The cell boundaries often correspond to headlands or artificial structures such as jetties and can be geographically delineated to provide a spatial framework for the quantitative analysis of coastal erosion and accretion. Point No Point is a cuspate spit formed at the end of converging drift cells. One cell starts at Foulweather Bluff about 4 miles (6 km) to the northeast and ends at Point No Point. The sediment transport direction in the cell is controlled by the northerly prevailing wind and fetch over Admiralty Inlet. The other drift cell originates at 100 feet (30 m) high bluffs of glacial drift about 7 miles (11 km) to the south and ends at Point No Point. The net sand transport in the drift cell is dominated by the prevailing southerly wind and fetch over Puget Sound.

The Suquamish people are a Lushootseed-speaking tribe of the southern Coast Salish people that traditionally lived on the western shores of Puget Sound from the northern end of present-day Kitsap Peninsula to Gig Harbor in the south. The Suquamish lived in permanent villages along the shore near rivers and streams, with rectangular houses facing the water. These villages consisted of large wooden houses, called longhouses or winter houses, which were often shared by many families. The houses were made of cedar planks and logs, and had shed or gabled roofs. They varied in size with some of the larger structures ranging from 200 to 600 feet (60-180 m) long. They were divided into smaller family rooms, which opened directly to the outside. The Suquamish periodically left their winter residences in family canoes and traveled to seasonal camps to fish, hunt, and forage. The first contact with Europeans was in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver explored Puget Sound and met members of the Suquamish tribe. More regular contact with Europeans came with the establishment of British Hudson’s Bay Company trading posts in Puget Sound at Fort Nisqually and the Salish Sea at Fort Victoria in the early 19th century. The Washington Territory was established in 1853, and the U.S. government began signing treaties with area tribal leaders to extinguish aboriginal claims and make land available for Euro-American settlement. In 1855, Isaac Stevens, the governor of the newly organized Washington Territory, and the Suquamish jointly signed the Point Elliott Treaty. Three days later Stevens summoned a treaty council to Point No Point which was attended by 1,200 Natives of the Chimakum, Klallam, and Skokomish tribes. Point No Point was a midpoint between the tribal centers. The Point No Point Treaty was signed between the United States and the delegates of the tribes the following day. Under the terms of these treaties, the tribes were to cede ownership of their land in exchange for small reservations and a payment of $60,000 from the federal government, thus ending the Indian wars. The site of the treaty signing is now the location of the Point No Point Light Station.

Point No Point has long been considered the entrance to Puget Sound and has shown a lighted beacon as a navigational aid since 1879. Several maritime accidents have taken place in the vicinity of the light. In 1868, the bark Iconium had run aground in the fog. In 1875, the bark Windward, trying to avoid the shoal, was wrecked on Whidbey Island. In 1878, the bark Osmyn struck the Aureola in thick fog and sand with three crew members lost. In 1914, two coastal passenger liners collided in thick fog with the loss of 16 passengers and crew. In 1872, the U.S. Lighthouse Board, expecting vessel traffic to increase around Puget Sound when the Northern Pacific Railroad reached Tacoma, recommended that a light beacon and fog signal at Foulweather Bluff were essential to maritime safety. When the Point No Point location was agreed upon as the preferred location, the owners of the land were very reluctant to sell. Construction of the lighthouse began in April 1879, and before it was finished, the first light displayed was a temporary kerosene lantern protected by a canvas to keep the lamp from blowing out. Upon completion of the light station in February 1880, the lantern room held a 5th-order Fresnel lens made by Sautter, Lemonnier & Cie. The original masonry structure was 27 feet (8.2 m) high. The present 30 feet (9.1 m) high brick and stucco tower is square and situated between the office and fog signal building. A fog signal, formerly used at New Dungeness Lighthouse, was installed in 1880. In 1898, the original lens was replaced with a fourth-order Fresnel lens. In 1900, the fog bell was replaced by a Daboll trumpet. With no roads to the lighthouse for its first 40 years, supplies and lighthouse keepers had to be brought in by boat. In 1975, a 90 feet (27 m) high radar tower was built on the west side of the lighthouse used for the Vessel Traffic Service. In 1997, the last U.S. Coast Guard personnel left Point No Point and it stood empty until it was leased to Kitsap County Parks Department. In 2006, the Coast Guard replaced the light with a low-maintenance, post-mounted, rotating beacon. Since 2008, the lightkeeper’s residence at Point No Point has been the national headquarters of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point No Point and Admiralty Inlet here:

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About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (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. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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