Monday, March 12, 2018

Admiralty Head Lighthouse and the First Woman Keeper

On Whidbey Island located in Puget Sound Washington State is Fort Casey, the home of Admiralty Head Lighthouse and its seventeen year old female assistant keeper.

Fort Casey is near the Coupeville Ferry Terminal. So, its a good idea to arrive early for your ferry giving you time to explore the lighthouse which is located inside Fort Casey Historical State Park.

In 1858, 10 acres was purchased by the U. S. government to build a lighthouse. They paid $400.00 . This was the first lighthouse and was built of wood as a two story house with a tower rising from the gable. It was finished in 1861. Its light was visible for 16 miles. In 1890 the lighthouse was relocated to a place close to the present lighthouse. It was demolished in 1928.

The first keeper of the first lighthouse was a sea Captain nicknamed "grey grizzled seadog". This was after the indians burned his house down and he put a cannon in his yard to discourage them. He also served as the coroner and the post master. A good way of knowing what was happening both on and off the island.

At that time there were no women on the island. Asa Mercer president of the university in Seattle went to Massachusetts to recruit young ladies to move to Washington to serve as teachers and to even out the gender gap. So Daniel Pearson, a brave father, brought his two teen aged daughters and nine other girls to the island. These gals were brought from all over the U. S. and abroad.

In May 1866, a seventeen year old girl named Flora Pearson became assistant lighthouse keeper for her father, Daniel Pearson. She stayed for more than 10 years. During this time she married and gave birth to a son. In later years under the pen name, Flora A P Engle, she wrote extensively of the history of whidbey Island. The Island County Times carried a series of her articles.

The present lighthouse, constructed of brick and stucco was built in 1903. It is located at the east entrance point of Admiralty Inlet. Admiralty Head is the southeast point of a line of bluffs which extend northward along the western shore of Whidbey Island to Point Partridge.. This is where the bluffs are at their highest. In 1922 the lighthouse was deactivated. The lantern was moved to the New Dungeness Lighthouse in 1927.

Later the lighthouse was used by the K-9 dog training program. A 25 cent postage stamp featuring the Admiralty Light was issued by the U. S. Postal Service in 1990.

The Washington State Parks Department has since restored the lighthouse. in cooperation with the Lighthouse Environmental Program, Washington State University's Extension Office and local environmental programs. In 2012 a group of student volunteers from three Whidbey Island high schools installed a reconstruction of the lantern house atop the tower.

So remember Whidbey Island in you next vacation plans. Fort Casey, where the lighthouse is located, is a 998 acre camping park with over 10,000 feet of shoreline. This is Admiralty Inlet and address is:

Admiralty Head Lighthouse (in Fort Casey State Park)
1280 Engle Road
Coupeville, Wa 98239

As you enter the park there will be an automated pay station where you can buy a one-day or an annual Discover Pass.

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