Description: Sitting on a historic plot of land, flashing a white light once every five seconds, Mukilteo Lighthouse guides ships on their way to Everett, Washington.
On May 31, 1792, during his exploration of 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 that covered the hillsides. Later, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, leader of the 1838-42 U.S. Exploring Expedition, changed the name to Point Elliott, likely in honor of midshipman Samuel Elliott.
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 Elliott. Through the treaty, the Indian wars ceased, the Tulalip Indian Reservation was established, and white settlement of the ceded coastal area between Seattle and the Canadian border began in earnest. A copy of the treaty can be seen today at Mukilteo Lighthouse.
In 1902, the Lighthouse Board determined a lighthouse at the point was needed:
[T]he proposed light and fog-signal would be of much benefit to navigation, not only to vessels entering 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. The tides are very strong and deceiving at Muckilteo Point. Some time ago one of the large San Francisco vessels narrowly escaped running ashore there in a fog.
After Congress appropriated $22,000 for the lighthouse on January 9, 1903, a survey of the land needed for the lighthouse was made and a plat prepared. Invited bids for construction of the station were opened on June 30, 1905, and work began that August based on a Carl W. Leick design that was also used for the 1908 Ediz Hook Lighthouse and the second lighthouse at Cape Arago, Oregon.
Built on a 2.6-acre site, the lighthouse featured a thirty-eight-foot-tall, octagonal tower that was originally equipped with a revolving fourth-order Fresnel lens manufactured in Paris by Barbier & Benard. The lighthouse’s wood-frame construction is fairly unique as several similar lighthouses, such as those at 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 that 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 government lighthouse at Mukilteo flashed its guiding rays for the first time over the dark waters of Puget Sound last night. The light can be plainly seen from almost any favorable point in Everett and dozens of people curiously watched the glimmer of the lamp as it shot its beams of yellow light in the directions of the city at regular five second intervals.The original lens had two bull’s-eye panels and was revolved once every ten seconds by a clockwork mechanism powered by a suspended weight that had to be wound up every three hours.
Keeper Peter Christiansen was born in Norway and went to sea at the age of fourteen. After eleven years in the merchant marines, he served ten years in the U.S. Navy and then joined the Lighthouse Service in 1894. Christiansen spent four years as assistant keeper at Turn Point Lighthouse and then eight years as head keeper before arriving at Mukilteo Lighthouse with his wife Theodine and their four children. David O. Kinyon, who had previously served at Destruction Island for three years, was the first assistant keeper at Mukilteo. The modern station was considered a plum assignment, due in part to its proximity to civilization, and it was reported that Keeper Christiansen received his new appointment “as a reward for faithful service.”
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 at the age of sixty-six, likely of a heart attack. No subsequent keeper would serve longer than Christiansen’s nineteen years at Mukilteo Lighthouse.
Mukilteo’s light and fog signal were automated in 1979, and in 1981, a remote fog sensor was installed. The sensor took a reading based on light reflection and then, if necessary, set off the signal. Next to the station, a luxury condominium had been built that 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, and 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 wasn’t a problem after that.
The size of the station was reduced in 1973 when one acre of tideland from its southwest corner was transferred from the Coast Guard to Washington State Parks to become part of Mukilteo State Park, which featured a four-lane boat ramp and large parking area. 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.
The Coast Guard transferred ownership of the tower and dwellings to the City of Mukilteo in 2001, and the following year, the state gave the adjoining park to the city as well. After some debate, the name of the park was changed to Mukilteo Lighthouse Park. The Coast Guard still maintains the navigational equipment at the lighthouse.
Located adjacent to the ferry landing in Mulkilteo. The lighthouse is owned by the City of Mukilteo. Grounds open, dwelling/tower open in season.
The lighthouse is owned by the City of Mukilteo. Grounds open, dwelling/tower open in season.
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
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, L. LeFevre, used by permission.