Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
Cape Flattery Lighthouse
Tatoosh Island, Washington
© 2012 - Chris J LeBlanc Photographer
Location: Located on Tatoosh Island just over a half mile off Cape Flattery, the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.
Latitude: N 48.391609
Longitude: W 124.736479
Year Constructed: 1857. Inactive since 2009
Tower Height: 65 feet Focal Plane: 165 feet
Brick tower with lantern and gallery, rising through the center of a 1-1/2 story sandstone keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white, lantern and watch room black; keeper's house roof is bright red. 1-story fog signal building also preserved.
- Location: TATOOSH ISLAND/ENTRANCE TO STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA
- Station Established: 1857
- Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1857
- Foundation Materials: ROCK
- Construction Materials: SANDSTONE/BRICK
- Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK LANTERN & RED ROOF
- Original Lens: FIRST ORDER, FRESNEL 1857
- Cape Flattery Lighthouse was built in 1857, but only after great difficulties with the Indians. Before commencing the lighthouse, it was necessary to build a blockhouse, and 20 muskets with ammunition were furnished for protection against Indians from the Canadian side of the Strait.
- Shortly after the light was completed the keeper resigned because he was annoyed by the numerous Indians who used the island as a fishing and whaling station.
In 1849-50, William McArthur led an expedition surveying sites for lighthouses along the west coast. McArthur gave the following report after visiting Cape Flattery.
A lighthouse is much needed also at Cape Flattery and I would recommend that it be situated on Tatoochi Island, a small island almost touching the Northwest extremity of Cape Flattery … to vessels bound from seaward a lighthouse on this island would be of much assistance. It would enable them to enter the straits, when the absence of a light would frequently compel them to stay at sea until daylight.
Like most of the early west coast lighthouses, the construction plans called for a one-and-a-half story dwelling with a tower protruding through the roof. This design permitted the keepers to access the tower without having to be exposed to the possibly harsh weather that might exist outdoors. The tower of this lighthouse was taller than most of the Cape Cod style lighthouses, and was also large enough to house a first-order Fresnel lens. The lens, found to be too large for the Point Loma Lighthouse for which it was ordered, was first illuminated in the tower on December 28, 1857, two weeks after the New Dungeness Lighthouse.
A fog signal building with a 12-inch steam whistle was built on the island in 1872. To provide the necessary water, a 33,000-gallon cistern was also added to the island. In 1875, the lighthouse dwelling was described as not being fit to be occupied. A new duplex was built nearby, and the rooms in the lighthouse were used for storage. When families arrived at the station, more living space was required, and the dwelling in the lighthouse was made habitable once again in 1894. Three years after the families arrived, the stations population jumped again when a weather station was established on the island.
The weather station on Tatoosh Island was closed in 1966, and its buildings were demolished. The light station was automated in 1977, and the island lost its last year-round inhabitants. A fourth-order lens replaced the first-order Fresnel lens sometime in 1932, and a Vega Rotating Beacon served as the light source in recent years.
In September 2009, a three-phase clean-up of Cape Flattery was completed by the Coast Guard. Old generators and fuel tanks were removed, and a new thirty-foot skeletal tower was erected that will require a checkup only once per year.
Historic Postcard of the Cape Flattery Lighthouse from 1912
Cape Flattery Lighthouse Links
Photograph courtesy Clallam County Historical Society
Photograph courtesy of NOAA