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 Slip Point, WA    
Description: By 1865, three lighthouses had been constructed along the American side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, however, a gap of over sixty miles still existed between the lights at Cape Flattery and Ediz Hook. Near the center of this gap lay Clallam Bay, with its small fishing villages. Slip Point forms the eastern side of Clallam Bay, and a small shelf located at its northern end was selected as the site for a fog signal and light. A landslip on the face of the point, which gave rise to the point's name, had often been used as a landmark for mariners during daylight hours. Now, thanks to a $12,500 appropriation by Congress on June 6, 1900 for a light and fog signal, the point would also help mariners traverse this previously dark gap at night and during limited visibility.

Original Slip Point Lighthouse in 1905
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
The amount asked for the selected site for the light was deemed so excessive the matter was transferred to a United States attorney for condemnation proceedings. The case was tried on June 5, 1902, and damages to the amount of $2,561.90 were awarded to the owners of the property.

Bids for constructing the station were opened on September 10, 1903, but, being in excess of the balance of the appropriation, were rejected, and a few weeks later the district engineer was authorizes to purchase material and perform the work using hired labor.

Construction of the station began in June 1904, and by the end of the following October, a fine keepers' dwelling and a single-story, frame fog signal building, with a Daboll trumpet protruding through its seaward wall, were completed. Lack of sufficient funds prevented the construction of a light tower, so instead, a lens-lantern mounted on a shelf on the northwester corner of the fog signal building served as the light. Hans Score, Slip Point's first keeper, lit the lamp for the first time on April 1, 1905.

While serving as keeper, Hans Score rescued several people in need of assistance near the lighthouse. In 1914, Keeper Score went to the aid of thirteen men whose gasoline launch Spirit had sunk about five miles from the station. Three years later, Keeper Score rescued the disabled motorboat Bunch from a dangerous position and towed it to safety.

As part of a $30,000 appropriation made on October 22, 1913 for improving existing aids to navigation in Puget Sound and adjacent waters, the intended light tower was finally added to the fog signal building in 1916, and a fourth-order clamshell Fresnel lens replaced the lens lantern. The upgraded beacon, whose characteristic was a white flash every five seconds, could now be seen from the Canadian side of the strait. A new fog-signal plant, consisting of a diaphone fog horn powered by twelve-horsepower internal-combustion engines, was also installed at the same time. The total cost for these upgrades was $9,204.58.

Slip Point Lighthouse in 1916 with tower
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
The keepers' residence was located along the eastern side of Clallam Bay, so to service the light and fog signal, the keeper had to skirt around the side of the point by walking along an elevated, wooden catwalk. During violent storms, it must have been a harrowing experience to walk the catwalk with the waves churning just below your feet.

Slip Point Lighthouse was replaced in 1951 by a beacon and fog signal on a fifty-foot white tower. The original fog signal building and attached tower were subsequently dismantled and much of the lumber was hauled away by local citizens.

The station was fully automated in 1977, and the keepers' duplex has since been shared by the Clallam Bay County Sheriff's Department and Coast Guard Personnel. In 2001, legislation was approved by the House of Representatives transferring 23.6 acres of Slip Point Lightstation to the local community for inclusion in Clallam Bay Spit County Park. Public officials of Clallam County have launched an effort to gather historic photos and blueprints of the original lighthouse that could be used in building an accurate replica. The modern beacon and the catwalk on top of the cement footings were removed around 2000.

Head Keepers: Hans P. Score (1905 at least 1916), Eugene B. Alden (at least 1919 - at least 1923), Arthur J. Woods (at least 1930 - 1932), Clayborn R. Williams, Sr. (at least 1940).

References

  1. Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board, various years.
  2. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Lighthouses, various years.
  3. Umbrella Guide to Washington Lighthouses, Sharlene and Ted Nelson, 1990.
  4. Lighthouses of the Pacific, Jim Gibbs, 1986.

Location: Located in Clallam Bay on the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.
Latitude: 48.2645
Longitude: -124.251

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


Travel Instructions: From Highway 101 on the Olympic Peninsula, take Highway 113 north to Highway 112. Follow Highway 112 west into Clallam Bay. In Clallam Bay, turn right onto Frontier Street. Frontier Street will turn into Salt Air Street near the beach where you will find the keeper's dwelling. The lighthouse was located north of the keeper's quarter along the beach.

The dwelling is owned by Clallam County. Grounds open, dwelling closed.

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