Having been raised in Seattle, Washington, surrounded by water and an avid sailor, I became a fan of lighthouses early in my life, a love affair that continued throughout my adult life, and I took it upon myself to visit as many of these sentinels of the sea as possible, photograph them and learn about their history. Take this image of the West Point Lighthouse in Puget Sound, Washington. Established in 1881, this lighthouse guards the entrance to Elliot Bay and the Seattle Harbor. The West Point LH closely followed the construction of the Point-no-Point LH, the first lighthouse in Puget Sound and the Point Wilson LH, all of which were built to help ships navigate Puget Sound during its lumber export hay days. At that time, the Port Blakely Mill, one of over 24 mills in Puget Sound, was the largest lumber mill on the West Coast, producing 200,000 board feet of lumber a day. These 3 lighthouses were to be followed by 5 more.
Now, thanks to the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, the US Government is selling, giving away or abandoning each year a selection of lighthouses it deems “Surplus.” The West Point LH was deemed surplus in 2002 and is now owned and managed by the City of Seattle. This year, one of my favorite lighthouses on the East Coast, the Nobska Lighthouse, or Woods Hole LH, is one of 6 New England LHs to either be given away to a local entity or sold at an auction. So why do I write about this? It seems to me that one of our responsibilities, as photographers when out shooting landscape, is also to help preserve the memories of our history as it contuses to vaporize.
About this picture, “This is what lighthouses did, guide mariners home as day became night” Evening at West Point, looking north up Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and peninsula on the left with a few clouds in the sky. A sentinel to guide one home even when they run out of battery power.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor