Yesterday when were were in Mukilteo to see the ferries and the totem pole I told you about, we also went to visit the Mukilteo Lightstation. Lightstation is another way of saying Lighthouse. And guess what? I also learned what the word "mukilteo" means! Native American Indians originally used the land in this area as a site for a camp during the winter months. In fact, Mukilteo is a local Indian word for "good place for camping."
We were a little disappointed to find that we couldn't go inside the lighthouse because it was closed, but we took pictures outside instead.
Here is some of the history of the Mukilteo Lightstation:
Sitting on a historic plot of land, flashing a white light once every five seconds, the Mukilteo Lighthouse guides ships on their way to Everett, Washington.
On May 31, 1792, during his exploration of the Puget Sound, Captain George Vancouver anchored his ship and came ashore at the point and named it Rose Point because of the wild pink roses, which covered the area. Later, Lt. Charles Wilkes of the 1838-42 U.S. Exploring Expedition changed the name to Elliot Point.
It was on January 22, 1855 that Washington Territory Governor Isaac Stevens met with 82 chieftains representing 22 local tribes at the site and ironed out the Treaty of Point Elliot. Through the treaty, the Indian wars ceased, the Tulalip Indian Reservation was established, and white settlement of the area began in earnest. A copy of the treaty can be seen today at the Mukilteo Lighthouse.
In 1901, the Lighthouse Board determined a lighthouse at the point would be beneficial not only to ships bound for "the harbor of Everett, Wash., but to vessels going up Possession Sound and Saratoga Passage and by way of Deception Pass to points north." Construction began in 1905.
Built on a 2.6-acre site, the 38-foot-tall lighthouse was equipped with a fourth-order Fresnel lens manufactured in Paris, France. The lighthouse's wood-frame construction is fairly unique as several similar lighthouses, such as Lime Kiln and Alki Point, were built of concrete or brick.
The station consisted of the combination tower and fog signal building, two keeper's homes, and a windmill over a well which supplied water for the town of Mukilteo. The windmill supported a 1,000 gallon tank for storing water, and housed a workshop, oil room and coal room. $27,000 was spent on the construction of the station.
The light was lit for the first time on March 1, 1906.
Mukilteo's lens and fog signal were automated in 1979, and in 1981, a remote fog sensor was installed. The sensor takes a reading based on light reflection and then, if necessary, sets off the signal.
Next to the station, a luxury condominium had been built and was home to a couple of Admirals. For some reason, the new fog sensor was activating the signal on sunny days and moonlit nights. After having their sleep interrupted on multiple clear, fogless nights, the Admirals became quite irritated. The Coast Guard was accordingly sent out to address the problem. After a month of investigation, they deduced that the sun or moon would reflect off the white seawall, built around the station to resist storm waves, and trick the sensor into turning on the signal. The seawall received a coat of black paint, and there hasn't been a problem since!
I found out later last night that it is a good thing there is lighthouse here because sometimes there are really big storms here. I'll tell you a little bit about one from 2003 when I write more to you later. As for last night...it was very peaceful here.