Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Geography/History #18


On Mother’s Day again we had a very beautiful day. We started our day out with a trip to the Pacific Ocean. We went to a beach called Grayland. When we got there we did observe a fishing vessel out in the ocean. So this got us to thinking that we needed to take Selena to the Lighthouse.

100_2743Selena had her very first history lesson and learned some interesting facts about the lighthouse. Standing at 107 feet tall it is the tallest lighthouse in Washington State.  Erected in 1897 it was lit by a kerosene lamp. The lens system is called a Fresnel Lens. The system used to rotate the huge lens was called a clock, which similar to a cuckoo clock, had long chains that were weighted. The lighthouse keeper’s main responsibility was to basically rewind the clock, the same way as you would an old clock by pulling down the chain then wait for it.  Another one of his responsibilities was to make sure the kerosene lamp never burned out, he would have to check through special holes to make sure the lamp flame was just right then could adjust the air flow to make sure it was burning at just the right level. This was all switched to electricity operation in the early 1900’s.



This is a picture view of the inside of the lens where the light is at. Interesting back when this was still operated by kerosene this lens actually floated in mercury. The lighthouse keepers would have to regularly drain the mercury and strain all the contaminates off, then pour it back into the donut shaped drum.


Every lighthouse shows different colored lights, and though they are similar in design are painted with different colors. Our State colors for the light is Red and White. The rotation was in 15 second intervals, in other words there would be 15 seconds of Red, and 15 seconds of White, with darkness of a couple seconds in between.

100_2766 This is the side of the lens that would have been Red. The lens was covered with a large piece of Red plastic, so that the light shown Red. This lens was imported from France, and each piece was precisely placed in place so that the light could be seen exactly 25 miles out from the shore.  This lens was cleaned with Red wine! The Red wine cleaned it the best from any other type of solution they ever tried.

This lighthouse is still a functioning light house but now this entire unit has been replaced by a Satellite system, and the light is from a box mounted on the outside. One of the sad things is by going to the new navigation system the town of West Port can no longer see the working lighthouse lights. Prepare yourself, this massive lens has been replaced by this:



View of the Ocean from the top of the light house.


Selena at the top of the light house.


Selena also got a Certificate of Recognition for climbing the 135 steps to the top of the tallest lighthouse in WA State.

Believe me she deserved this! First of all she barely was tall enough, I think we fudged a bit there, as she was suppose to be 40 inches tall, and I believe she is 37 or 38 inches tall. Also this was a long climb. Coming down she got scared at first as the stairs going from the lens area, to the clock area, where by the way is where the lighthouse keeper stayed, slept, and ate during his shift, are very narrow. After we got beyond that point, she did GREAT!! She earned this certificate all the way!

Another tid bit of information we discovered here on the Internet is that the lighthouse originally sat 400 feet from high tide.

getimageDid they move it? No, not at all, they built a Jetty System at the entrance to Grays Harbor, which protects the shoreline from the massive swells. By doing this the land has dried up and the lighthouse is now 3000 feet from the high tide. 

Selena took Papa’s light house and told me just how it works. How the lighthouse keeper went in the door, climbed the stairs, and then showed me how the light went around and around. She listened and retained a lot of the information that was told to us today. She also described the big lights in side the lighthouse.


Pin It


  1. What a neat lighthouse. Good for Selena, for making it up all those stairs!

  2. OK, at least one of you learned a whole lot about lighthouses. I have visited many, but I cannot keep all those details in my head any longer. It sounds like a very fun trip, and we also hope to visit one of our lighthouses soon.

  3. Bother, silly blogger not letting me comment on stuff, here's my third try.
    I love lighthouses. They're just fun, and so much character because each one is different.
    But, I'm with Selena's first assessment, heights are scary and walking down is no fun.

  4. I love this lesson! We've been to a couple lighthouses but none that we can go into. I need to search one out because I think my kids would love to do this!

  5. What a fun day! I loved learning all about the lighthouse too :-)