Digest>Archives> May 2010

Cattle Point Lighthouse in Danger

By Timothy Harrison

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Cattle Point Lighthouse with the lantern room ...

Washington’s Cattle Point Lighthouse located near Friday Harbor on San Juan Island is in danger of collapse due to erosion.

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Cattle Point Lighthouse as it appeared a number ...
Photo by: Lindy Tisdale

Unlike other lighthouses, the structure, built in 1935, never had a lantern room and never had a lighthouse keeper. However, this does not detract from the historical significance of the lighthouse.

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The history of Cattle Point Lighthouse dates back to 1888 when the site was marked with a post lantern. In 1921 the U.S. Navy installed a radio compass station nearby, which is now an interpretative center.

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The site was used to graze cattle, and at one time a ship loaded with cattle was stranded nearby and the crew forced the cattle to swim to the point; hence the name.

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Erosion and the elements have undermined the ...

In 1984 the vandalized and graffiti-painted lighthouse was picked by Exxon, now Exxon/Mobil, for the site of a television commercial. Exxon installed a lantern room on the lighthouse and revitalized the tower. However, after the commercial was made, because the lantern room was not historically accurate, the government required them to remove the lantern room.

The Coast Guard, which owns the lighthouse, has stated they will take the necessary steps this summer or sooner to save the lighthouse. They intend to drive in piles of thin interlocking sheets of steel to obtain a continuous barrier around the lighthouse, which will then be reinforced by concrete. It is expected that the material for the project will be flown in by helicopter.

This story appeared in the May 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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