From a church bell to a lighthouse (Point Wilson)

On June 20, 1878, Congress allocated $ 8,000 for a light and fog signal, but only the fog signal was built, since the money was not enough for both. On March 3, 1879, an additional $ 12,000 was allocated for the station. On September 1, 1879, a twelve-inch steam whistle was put into operation that was installed inside a signal building that emitted an explosion of eight seconds every minute.

In 1879 a lighthouse was built at a cost of $ 923 and a lens was installed that had been used in Point Bonita, California.

The lighthouse was a twelve-square-foot tower that rose forty-six feet from the roof of a two-story house. Fixed white light could be seen for up to thirteen miles. The sailors greatly appreciated the new sign of light and fog and expressed their feelings on December 15, 1879.

In 1894, the light changed from a fixed target to a fixed target with a red flash every twenty seconds. That same year a house of galvanized iron oil was built on the grounds of the lighthouse.

The first archer was David M. Littlefield, local resident and war veteran. He kept the lighthouse for a salary of $ 800 a year for four years until he returned to Port Townsend and served as city councilman and customs collector.

Believe it or not, there was often a shortage of water at the point. This is because Port Townsend is in a rain shadow behind the Olympic mountains and receives very little rain in the summer months. Water was needed to run the steam whistle. It was collected in cement sheds and stored in a brick cistern.

On September 29, 1989, the Umatilla steamboat departed from Victoria, British Columbia, towards Puget Sound. There was a dense fog and the signal at Point Wilson did not work due to lack of water. The 310-foot-long ship sailed by blowing its whistle often and listening to echoes to judge the distance to the ground. About a mile west of Point Wilson they hit rocks. Captain JC Hunter was able to float the steamboat again and decided to go to Port Townsend. But the impact had made a hole in the hull and the water began to flood. Captain Hunter, realizing the danger he was in, deliberately ran aground the ship a few hundred meters from Point Wilson Lighthouse. To keep the ship in place, he lowered the bow anchors. All passengers were unloaded safely, but the boat was damaged for around $ 100,000. Captain Hunter and his pilot were cited for "overconfidence."

In 1917, during World War I, all the lighthouse keepers were urged to raise their own vegetables in anticipation of food shortages. The lighthouse keeper William Thomas agreed and after the harvest he sent the following letter to the lighthouse inspector.

"Sir: I have sent you today a sample of some of the vegetables I grew at the station here. Peas, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, garlic and squash work well, but tomatoes, cabbage and the turnips are a failure; beans quite well after planting four times; having 4 gallons of salted beans and 2 canned gallons. The yield was good, but of course small amount, since space was limited. Onions and lettuce early they were splendid; he gave Heather (the tender lighthouse) some for his mess. "

Guardian Thomas received praise for his efforts in gardening. A photograph showing a potato, parsnip, carrot and garlic bulb that was harvested from the sandy soil is shown in the National Archives.

It was April 1, 1921, during the doorman Thomas & # 39; He remained a guardian, who heard a terrible noise and knew it was a problem. He called Port Townsend to ask for help.

The noise he had heard was that of the loaded passenger ship, the governor of the Admiralty line, crashing into the West Hartland freighter. The 417-foot passenger ship was headed to Seattle from Victoria. He was hit by the freighter while surrounding Port Townsend.

During World War II, the light at Point Wilson was extinguished to protect Fort Worden and the entrance to Puget Sound.

The subsequent accident reports concluded that the governor's pilot did not give up the right of way because he thought the freighter's running lights were the fixed lights of Marrowstone Point. The collision tore a three-meter wound in the governor's helmet. The captain of West Hartland orders at full speed to keep the hold covered, but it was in vain. The Governor began to sink into 240 feet of water, while all but eight of his passengers were able to board the freighter.

The following accident account was provided by

The lighthouse keeper Thomas:

"It was 12:05 this morning when I heard the crash. When I turned in the direction of the sound, I saw West Hartland with my nose pinned to the governor's starboard side. It was clear and the ships were in sight of about three quarters of a mile away. I immediately called Port Townsend and tried to get the Coast Guard, Arcata and Snohomish out. They were both out of the harbor. I finally got several pitches. Outside, and it wasn't more than an hour before the Governor left. sink ".

The light at Wilson Point was automated in 1976 and today is monitored by a computer at the Coast Guard Air Station in Port Angeles.

The Point Wilson Light is an active navigation aid located in Fort Worden State Park, near Port Townsend, Jefferson County, Washington. Wikipedia

Address: 200 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368

Height: 46 ′

Open: 1879

Phone: (360) 344-4412

Construction: concrete