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 Marrowstone Point, WA    
A hike of some distance required.
Description: Extending from the base of the bluffs on the northeast end of Marrowstone Island is a low, level piece of ground known as Marrowstone Point. The point was so named by Captain George Vancouver for the soft clay visible in the bluffs above the point. After visiting the site in May, 1792, Vancouver wrote:
In most of my excursions I met with an indurated clay, much resembling fuller's-earth. The high steep cliff, forming the point of land we were now upon, seemed to be principally composed of this matter; which, on a more close examination, appeared to be a rich species of the marrow stone, from whence it obtained the name of Marrow-stone Point.
The name was eventually extended to the entire island.

Marrowstone light and fog signal in 1945
Photograph courtesy National Archives
Marrowstone Point forms the eastern entrance to Port Townsend Bay and was first marked by a lens lantern on a pole in 1888, around the time when several such aids were established in the Puget Sound area. To supplement this red light, the Lighthouse Board made the following recommendation in 1892:

A large fog bell here would be of great service to the commerce of these waters. It would mark the sharp turn in the course entering or leaving Puget Sound. In case appropriation is made to replace the bell now at Point No Point with a first-class fog signal, the bell taken from there can be established at Marrowstone Point. It is estimated that the bell can be set up and that the necessary buildings for the accommodation of the keeper can be erected for $3,500.

Congress appropriated the requested amount on March 3, 1893, but it would take two years before the needed land was obtained and plans and specifications for the structures were made. In the early part of 1896, the contractors had finished a one-and-a-half-story, six-room keeper's dwelling and a fog bell tower. The fog bell was placed into commission on April 7, 1896, being sounded a double blow every fifteen seconds by a Gamewell striking apparatus. In 1902, the bell's characteristic was changed to a single blow every fifteen seconds.

The first keeper at Marrowstone Point was Osmore H. Morgan, a seventy-year-old, former sea captain. Keeper Morgan served until his passing in 1907, when Nettie E. Race, his daughter, was placed in charge of the light and bell. Axel Rustad was appointed keeper in 1909, and he and his wife, Karen, raised four sons on the point. Water for the station's inhabitants consisted of rainfall that was stored in a 5,000-gallon, redwood tank, enclosed in a shed behind the dwelling.

A woodshed and boathouse were constructed at the station in 1898, and in 1902 a galvanized oil house and a shelter for the lens lantern were added. The boathouse was moved away from the shore in 1904 and converted into a barn.

Shortly after the first keeper took up residence at the station, construction of Fort Flagler commenced on the bluff above. The fort was completed in 1907, and it became the third active fort guarding Admiralty Inlet. Together with the guns at Fort Casey on Admiralty Head and those at Fort Worden near Point Wilson, the batteries at Fort Flagler formed a "Triangle of Fire," to prevent hostile vessels from entering Puget Sound.

Mariners complained that the fog bell at the point was often inaudible, so an experimental acetylene gun was tried in 1913, but it too proved inadequate. In 1918, a new light and fog signal building was completed at the station. A third-class Daboll fog signal, powered by an electric compressor, sounded a group of three blasts every thirty seconds from large trumpets protruding from three sides of the square cement building. The light was changed from acetylene to electricity at this time.

Though automated in 1962, the station still remains fairly intact. The station was transferred in 1972 from the Coast Guard to the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for use as a scientific research facility. The keeper's dwelling serves as a guest house for scientists visiting the Marrowstone Marine Field Station, and the short, squat structure housing the lighthouse and fog signal still stands at the water's edge. Research in marine ecosystem health and marine fish health is conducted at the station.

Fort Flagler is now Fort Flagler State Park and includes a military museum.

Head Keepers: Osmore H. Morgan (1896 1907), Mrs. Nettie E. Race (1907 1909), Axel Rustad (1909 1920), Jacob Hall (1920 - 1938), Vivian Russell Corrie (1938 - at least 1942).

References

  1. Umbrella Guide to Washington Lighthouses, Sharlene and Ted Nelson, 1990.
  2. Lighthouses of the Pacific, Jim Gibbs, 1986.

Location: Located at the northern end of Marrowstone Island in Fort Flagler State Park, across Port Townsend Bay from Port Townsend.
Latitude: 48.10161
Longitude: -122.68784

For a larger map of Marrowstone Point Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: Take Highway 116, also known as Flagler Road, onto Indian Island and then to Marrowstone Island. Follow the road to Fort Flagler State Park. The Marrowstone Point Lighthouse is on the northeastern tip of the island. The area immediately around the keeper's dwelling is not open to the public, but you can walk the shoreline to view the light.

The station is owned by the US Geological Survey. Shoreline open, tower/dwelling closed.

Find the closest hotels to Marrowstone Point Lighthouse

Notes from a friend:

Kraig writes:
Although the lighthouse isn't too remarkable itself, well-maintained Fort Flagler is an added incentive to make the trip to the end of the island. The historic fort housing is also available for vacation rentals. Call (360) 385-3701 for details.

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Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.