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 –