West Point Light
||This article's introduction may be too long for the overall article length. (March 2014)|
West Point Light
|Year first constructed||1881|
|Year first lit||1881|
|Construction||Brick with stucco|
|Markings / pattern||white|
|Focal height||27 feet (8.2 m)|
|Original lens||Fourth order Fresnel lens|
|Range||White 16 nautical miles (30 km; 18 mi), Red 13 nautical miles (24 km; 15 mi)|
|Characteristic||Alt WR 10s|
|Fog signal||HORN: 1 every 10s, activated for 30 minutes by keying a mike 5 times on VHF channel 78A.|
West Point Light Station
|Nearest city||Fort Lawton, Washington|
|Area||2 acres (0.81 ha)|
|Governing body||U.S. Coast Guard|
|NRHP Reference #||77001336|
|Added to NRHP||August 16, 1977|
The West Point Light, also known as the Discovery Park Lighthouse, is a 23-foot-high lighthouse on Seattle, Washington's West Point which juts into Puget Sound and marks the northern extent of Elliott Bay.
Opening on November 15, 1881, and featuring a fourth-order Fresnel lens, it was the first manned light station on Puget Sound and cost $25,000 to build ($610 thousand in today dollars). It was illuminated with a kerosene lamp for its first 44 years, until it was attached to Seattle's electric grid in 1926.
Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, in early 2003, Seattle's Department of Parks and Recreation applied to the United States Department of the Interior to take custody of the lighthouse from the United States Coast Guard and incorporate it into Discovery Park. Nineteen groups applied, including Nick Korstad, former owner of Virginia's Wolf Trap Lighthouse. The city was granted the property in October 2004 after many debates.
Included in the transfer of the property was the station's original 4th order Fresnel Lens. Upon signing over of the deed, the Coast Guard extinguished the original lighting system and replaced it with a modern Vega Rotating Beacon (VRB-25). Today the light retains its original characteristic of alternating red and white flash every five seconds.
Seattle Parks and Recreation has been looking for groups to help maintain the light due to a lack of funding.
Location, Access, and Controversy
West Point Light is adjacent to the West Point Treatment Plant (a sewage treatment plant) and public access. The Lighthouse and beach area under the Master Plan for Discovery Park; it was recommended that:
There will be great pressures to open up the park to automobiles, motorcycles and motor bikes. One of the greatest values of the park is, however, that it will afford the people a refuge from the noise, air pollution and danger of the automobile. We believe, therefore, that park patrons should not be permitted to drive their private vehicles through the park.
Under current rules, visitors may access the beach on foot by a number of trails, except for people with children under 8, people over 62, and people with physical problems that prevent them from walking long distances. (The lighthouse is located about 1.5 miles from Discovery Park parking lots or from the park's Visitors Center.) Nevertheless, because of the extraordinary beauty of the lighthouse and the rocks and ocean surrounding it, many people drive to the area for picnics, photography, and recreation. Parking spaces exist and are marked, but visitors who wish to park must obtain a permit from the Discovery Park Visitor’s Center. To ensure parking spaces for permitted visitors and access for emergency vehicles, cars may be ticketed by Seattle Police and towed if they are parked without a permit. King County Wastewater Treatment Division and City of Seattle Parks report problems with excess unpermitted parking that results in access problems for emergency vehicles and into the treatment plant. Emergency resources have been needed to respond to beach fires, illegal fireworks, and gunfire in the beach area. County and City resources have been used to remove abandoned vehicles and graffiti on the beach and on historic buildings and treatment plant walls.
In 2013, King County and Seattle Parks presented the public with a plan to install a “security gate" that would prevent unauthorized vehicle access. Over half of people providing comment to the County supported this proposal, but others suggested that other options should be explored first. During Summer 2014, King County and Seattle Parks installed improved parking permit signage, additional educational signage to help visitors understand the intent of the Master Plan, measured vehicle traffic to the beach, and scheduled enforcement presence at various times of the day. The results of this evaluation will be presented to the public in November 2014.
- Light List, Volume VI, Pacific Coast and Pacific Islands (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2009. p. 136.
- "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Washington". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
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