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 Mukilteo, WA    
Lighthouse accessible by car and a short, easy walk.Lighthouse open for climbing.Interior open or museum on site.Photogenic lighthouse or setting.Active Fresnel Lens
Description: 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.

Mukilteo Lighthouse
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
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."

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, Lieutenant 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 eighty-two chieftains representing twenty-two 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 1902, 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, which route is much frequented by the smaller boats running out of Tacoma and Seattle." After Congress appropriated $22,000 for the lighthouse on January 9, 1903, construction began in 1905 using a Carl W. Leick design that was also used for the Ediz Hook (1908) lighthouse and the second light at Cape Arago, Oregon.

Built on a 2.6-acre site, the thirty-eight-foot-tall lighthouse was equipped with a fourth-order Fresnel lens manufactured by L. Suatter & CIE of Paris. The lighthouse's wood-frame construction is fairly unique as several similar lighthouses, such as Lime Kiln and Alki Point, were built of concrete.

The station consisted of the combination tower and fog signal building sporting a Daboll trumpet, two keeper's dwellings, 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. A total of $27,000 was expended on the construction of the station. The light commenced operation on April 1, 1906,

The light was lit for the first time on March 1, 1906, by head keeper Peter Christiansen, and between that date and June 30, the Daboll trumpet was in operation for twenty-eight hours. Christiansen was born in Norway and at the age of fourteen joined the merchant marines where he served for eleven years. This service was followed by ten years in the U.S. Navy before he joined the Lighthouse Service. Christiansen served as a keeper at Turn Point Lighthouse for over a decade before being appointed head keeper at Mukilteo. His assistant was D. O. Kinyon who had previously served at Destruction Island for three years.

On September 4, 1925, Keeper Christiansen rescued a boy who was adrift on planks near the station. This was to be one of his last rescues, for on October 5, 1925, shortly after helping unload a shipment of coal at the station, he passed away, likely of a heart attack.

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Electricity reached the station in 1927, at which time the original revolving Fresnel lens was exchanged for a fixed, fourth-order lens in use at New Dungeness Lighthouse. In 1960, the Coast Guard planned to replace the fixed Fresnel lens, manufactured in 1852 by L. Sautter & Cie,. with an airport type beacon, but the Mukilteo community protested. Ironically, the lighthouse now has two Fresnel lenses: the fixed fourth-order lens that remained in the tower, and a multi-bull's-eyed fourth-order Fresnel lens on display from the Desdemona Sands Lighthouse, a lighthouse once located on a cluster of piles near the mouth of the Columbia River.

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.

The size of the station was reduced in 1954 when one acre from its southwest corner was transferred from the Coast Guard to Washington State Parks to become part of Mukilteo State Park. The public gained access to the lighthouse in 1991 when the City of Mukilteo leased the lighthouse from the Coast Guard, and the Mukilteo Historical Society became the informal caretakers. The two dwellings continued to be occupied by the Coast Guard until 1996, when they too were leased to the city. The historical society offers tours of the lighthouse and makes it available for weddings. According to volunteers, not one of the first hundred performed at the lighthouse was rained on. There was rain before or after, but never on the actual ceremony.

Ownership of the tower and dwellings was turned over to the City of Mukilteo by the Coast Guard in 2001, and the state has given the park to the city as well. Navigational equipment is still maintained by the Coast Guard.

Head Keepers: Peter N. Christiansen (1906 1925), Edward A. Brooks (1925 1937), Ray E. Dunson (1937 - 1939), John Peterson (1939 - ), Vivian Russell Corrie (1946 - 1960).

Photo Gallery: 1 2 3

References:

  1. "Mukilteo's Landmark: The Lighthouse Story," Bruce Brown and Glen Pickus, The Mukilteo Beacon.
  2. "They All Shine On," Rebecca Carr, The Mukilteo Beacon.
  3. "Historical Marker Placed at Mukilteo Lighthouse," Lighthouse Digest, December 1999.
  4. Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, Randy Leffingwell and Pamela Welty, 2000.
  5. Umbrella Guide to Washington Lighthouses, Sharlene and Ted Nelson, 1998.

Location: Located adjacent to the ferry landing in Mulkilteo.
Latitude: 47.94873
Longitude: -122.30627

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


Travel Instructions: From Interstate 5 roughly 22 miles north of Seattle, take Highway 526 west 3.5 miles to where it ends at Highway 525. Turn right on Highway 525 and follow it to the Whidbey Island Ferry Landing in Mukilteo. The Mukilteo Lighthouse is next to the landing.

The Mukilteo Lighthouse is open April through September from noon until 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Call (425) 513-9602 for more information.

The lighthouse is owned by the City of Mukilteo. Grounds open, dwelling/tower open in season.

Find the closest hotels to Mukilteo Lighthouse

Notes from a friend:

Marilyn writes:
A quaint little lighthouse. You cannot go wrong in the picture taking since all sides of it are photogenic.

See our List of Lighthouses in Washington

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