Alki Point Lighthouse History & Tours

Alki Point Lighthouse in West Seattle

Alki Point Lighthouse in West Seattle

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a Lighthouse looks like?

The Alki Point Lighthouse in West Seattle is open for FREE tours most Weekends from the first weekend in June to the last weekend in August (Current Tour Information). The hours of operation are 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm with the last tour starting around 3:40 pm. The tours are conducted by volunteers from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Alki Point Lighthouse is located in the back yard of the residence of the Commander of the 13th District of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard 13th District covers Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  So set your GPS Navigator to 3201 Alki Avenue SW Seattle, WA 98116, and stop on by.

According to legend the first Aid to Navigation at Alki Point was a Kerosene lantern hung on a barn in the 1870’s by Hans Martin Hanson. In 1887 the Kerosene lantern was updated with a Post Lantern by the Lighthouse Service (later combined into the Coast Guard) The Lighthouse Service hired Mr. Hanson to tend the lantern.  Mr. Hanson and his family, and then later his decedents continued tending the Post Lantern until the Alki Lighthouse was Lighted on June 1, 1913.  The original Alki Point Post Lantern is on display at the Coast Guard Museum at the Coast Guard Base in Seattle.

On June 1, 2013 the Alki Lighthouse celebrated 100 years of helping to keep Puget Sound mariners safe.

Much of the early Alki Point Lighthouse equipment has been preserved in good condition for the public to view. The air compressor with it’s large storage tank for the Fog Horn still shines for all visitors to see, as is the standby generator and standby air compressor. Other lighthouse history is on display, there is a 4th Order Fresnel Lens (Wikipedia) the same size as the original lens in the Alki Lighthouse. Much of the grounds are open during the tours so you can bring your camera and have your picture taken with the Alki Point Lighthouse in the background.

Visitors can also climb to the top of the Alki Point Lighthouse tower where the light is located for a very spectacular view of the area. A note of caution about the climb, the stairs are steep and the ladder at the top is even steeper. Young children are not allowed in the tower for safety reasons and the top of the tower gets very hot on a sunny day.

Tell them captnmike sent you and you will get your choice of free boating safety literature from the table at the front gate and a discount on the tour price.  However since the tour is already free and the literature is no charge either, won’t really save  any money, but it is the thought that counts, right?  And I always wanted someone to say that I sent them.  The tour is interesting covering over 100 years of time and you get a great view.

For a look at many other Aids to Navigation please see: The National Aids to Navigation Museum

For more Lighthouse, Lifesaving and Coast Guard History see: The U.S. Coast Guard Museum, Seattle, Washington

Updated September 26, 2014: Added drawings showing proposed structures from 1911.  These two images are from the drawings sent to the Commissioner, Bureau of Light-Houses by C.W. Leick in May 1911.

Thanks for your interest in Boating Safety and Seattle history.

– c/m –

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9 Responses to Alki Point Lighthouse History & Tours

  1. I was officer in charge of alki point from feb 1974 to feb 1976 that was the best duty I had during my 20nyear career. I loved seattle and its friendly people

    • captnmike says:

      I have talked with two Admirals that have lived at Alki and they both like living there

      Glad you liked Seattle and your duty here – lots of history at Alki

      I hope your retirement is going well

  2. Jade K. says:

    I am doing a report on this Lighthouse and I was wondering the dimensions of this lighthouse. I need to know the height, length, and width. I used to live in Washington too and I love the state!

    • captnmike says:

      The light is 39 ft above average high water level, since the base of the lighthouse is above the average high water the light is less than 39 ft above the land, but add the roof

      I have ask a couple of researchers that have access to Coast Guard records to help, remind me in a few days if I forget

      • Jade K. says:

        Ok thanks!

      • captnmike says:

        Found a copy of the original floor plans & elevation drawing. It will be probably Friday when I can get a copy made. Part of the problem also is there are many “heights” depending on what you are looking at. The building is also not rectangular, the tower sticks out on the east end.

      • captnmike says:

        I sent you a PDF of the drawings showing the Proposed buildings as sent to the Commissioner, Bureau of Light-Houses

        I have also added drawings showing the proposed Keepers Quarters & Light and Signal Building.

        Hope that helps your report

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hello captnmike,

    I too am writing a report on it. If you would be so kind to send me the pdf as well I would very much appreciate it!

    – Ruben

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