Giclee print on fine art paper
Signed open Edition print
In the early 1850’s, the Lighthouse Board recommended the construction of two lighthouses to mark the important waterway linking Puget Sound to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Sailing ships had for many years faced this hazardous obstacle course with no navigational aids. In1856, Congress appropriated enough funds to build only one lighthouse. It was decided that the tall red rocked bluff on Widbey Island would best serve as a location to build the much needed lighthouse.
The US Lighthouse Service purchased a site from Dr. Kellog, who had originally claimed the land under the homestead laws. A wooden Cape Cod style lighthouse was built and a light first shone from it's beacon on January 21,1861. The first keeper, William Robertson was a retired sea captain who also performed the duties of Post Master and coroner.
In order to bolster the defenses of Puget Sound three forts where built. Unfortunately, Admiralty Head Lighthouse sat on the site chosen for Fort Casey. The new fort’s plans called for a “disappearing gun” to be located in the same spot as the lighthouse. The lighthouse was moved but it was eventually determined that a new lighthouse would have to replace the 45 year old structure.
The Army Corp of Engineers was called in to build a beautiful California Spanish-style building in 1903. The Lighthouse Boards architect Carl W. Leick designed a strong and comfortable structure. Unusually. for its time it boasted an indoor bathroom and laundry room. Leick’s motto was “Build ‘em stout and make ‘em last”, which it most certainly has.
The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1922 and fell into steady decay. Fortunately, in 1957 the Island Historical Society in conjunction with Washington State Parks undertook a massive renovation of the lighthouse. Due to financial cutbacks in the budget of the Washington State Parks, the much-loved park rangers were themselves noncommissioned. Today the Lighthouse is open to the public thanks to the volunteers of the Washington State University Beach Waters and Waste Warriors programs.