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Point Wilson Lighthouse
Washington State Olympic Peninsula
Point Wilson, a point north of Port Townsend on the Strait of Juan De Fuca and Admiralty Inlet, once the haunt of Indians who brought their canoes to rest on its shores, is now the sight of a magnificent lighthouse. The first structure was a 46-foot wood frame tower rising from the keepers dwelling, with a fog signal unit attached. To differentiate the sentinel from the one on Admiralty Head, the fixed white light in the lantern was varied by a red flash every 20 seconds.
Point Wilson Lighthouse is important to commerce. In 1913 the lighthouse was upgraded and improved. A concrete structure with an octagonal tower rising 51 feet above the water was built. The fog signal was upgraded to a chime diaphragm. Still in mint condition, the lighthouse continues its vigil and continues to maintain Coast Guard personnel. An important radio beacon is on the site.
A share of vessels has met with mishap near Point Wilson, however the lighthouse has been a greeting to mariners ever since its establishment. The lighthouse is the welcoming light for the entire Puget Sound area and continues this important role today.
Point Wilson Lighthouse is located on a breathtaking sand spit. Once the site of Fort Worden, now abandoned, visitors can explore the remains of the fort, walk through tall beach grass and linger among fields of driftwood and rocky sandy beaches. On a clear day Mt. Baker, the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier can be seen across the sparkling waters. Ships, sailboats, Ferries and Submarines sail these waters, all feeling safer as they pass the sentinel known as Point Wilson Lighthouse.
Safeguards of Coastal Navigation
Primary seacoast and secondary lights are so designated because of their greater importance as aids to navigation. In general, they differ from the minor lights by their physical size, intensity of light, and complexity of light characteristics. These lights are more individual in nature than minor lights and buoys; only broad general statements can be made about them as a group.
Primary seacoast lights are maintained to warn the high-seas navigator of the proximity of land. They are the first aids to navigation to be seen when making a landfall (except where there may be an offshore lightship). A coastwise pilot can use these lights to keep farther offshore at night than if he were using other visual aids. These are the most powerful and distinctive lights in the U.S. system of aids to navigation.
Primary seacoast lights may be located on the mainland or offshore on islands and shoals. When located offshore, they may mark a specific hazard or they may serve merely as a marker for ships approaching a major harbor.
Many primary seacoast lights are so classified from the importance of their location, the intensity of the light, and the prominence of the structure. Other aids will be classed as secondary lights because of their lesser qualities in one or more of these characteristics. The dividing line, however, is not clear-cut.
The physical structure of a primary seacoast light and many secondary lights is generally termed a lighthouse, although this is not an official designation used in the light list. The principal purpose is to support a light source and lens at a considerable height above the water. The same structure may also house a fog signal, radio beacon, equipment, and quarters for the operating personnel. In many instances, however, the auxiliary equipment and personnel are housed in separate buildings nearby; such a group of buildings is called a light station.
June 3rd, 2011
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