- I worked as a tour guide for two summers at the Umpqua River Lighthouse in Oregon. This opportunity enabled me to learn more about this lighthouse than any of the others I've seen. Although I have personally visited 302 lighthouses in the United States and three Provinces in Canada, the Umpqua River Lighthouse has special meaning for me.
30 June 2011
Washington - Light Station Mukilteo
Original construction of Light Station Mukilteo, including the tower, two houses, and pump house began in August 1905 and was completed in March 1906. It was built at a cost of $27,000. There are 36 steps leading up to the lantern room. The station is distinguished by its Victorian style wooden structure, surrounded by the white picket fence.
The original light was no more than a small kerosene lantern which sat 40 feet above the tide. In 1927 the lighthouse was converted to electricity. It was at this time the current fourth order Fresnel lens was installed in the tower. The light flashes every five seconds and can be seen 12 miles away. When a bulb burns out, three others are in place to rotate into use. When the light totally fails, such as during a power failure, the system automatically switches to a 12 volt light with battery backup which can be seen for approximately 4 miles. This battery backup can operate for about four days on the stored power.
The fog horn at this station is a first order horn operated by compressed air, and can be heard from six to eight miles away. The original air horn was replaced in the 1970's with the current horn which blasts on for three seconds and then is silent for twenty-seven seconds. The horn is automatically activated by a sensor unit which detects fog within a half mile range of the light station. If power is lost to the main horn, there is a 12 volt backup system.
In the early 1930's this light station was turned over to the U.S. Coast Guard. They automated the light in July 1970, and then the on site staff was reduced from a three man unit to a one man non-resident caretaker. The lighthouse and both of the quarters were remodeled in early 1972. Between Aug 1987 and early 1988, the lighthouse was restored to its original appearance. Custody of the lighthouse was given to the City of Mukilteo in 1991. The federal government awarded the entire light station to the City in 1998, with one exception. The light would be maintained and operated by the Coast Guard. This was still an active light being maintained by the Coast Guard at the time of my visit in 1999.