Kitsap County's Point No Point Lighthouse a step back into maritime history
First came Dr. John S. Maggs, a Seattle dentist who left his practice to become the first keeper of Point No Point Lighthouse in 1880. His keeper's log reads...
Seattle Times staff reporter
More nearby fun (that's the point)Point No Point Beach and Park: This sandy beach forms a right angle near the lighthouse and extends south for a couple of miles, making it a great strolling beach during low tides. Trail through wetlands behind lighthouse leads to a viewing platform.
Foulweather Bluff Preserve: Very hard to find but so worth the effort. From Hansville, go 2.8 miles on Twin Spits Road. The preserve is on the left; parking is on the dirt-road shoulder. Look for the trail access between two "no parking dusk-to-dawn" signs. A short forest hike on this Nature Conservancy trail empties onto an isolated beach strewed with barnacle-covered rocks, shells, live sand dollars and other marine-life curiosities. Bluff lined with glowing madronas, flanked by a brackish marsh.
Buck Lake County Park: Small lake surrounded by dense grove of tall trees. Swimming, children's playground, basketball courts, greenway trails and rolling lawn. From the intersection of Hansville Road and Point No Point Road, go west on Buck Lake Road, a half-mile to the park entrance.
If you go
Point No Point
Point No Point Lighthouse Keeper's Residence, 9007 Point No Point Road N.E., Hansville, Kitsap County. Directions: Take a Washington state ferry (www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries) from Edmonds to Kingston. From Kingston, go west on Highway 104 for about two miles, then north on Hansville Road. After about seven miles, turn right on Point No Point Road and follow until it ends at the lighthouse.
Residence includes living room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast area on main floor; two bedrooms, one bathroom, study on second floor. Furnished with antiques, fully stocked kitchen, linens provided. Maximum number of guests: 5 adults. No disability access.
Rates: $175 to $210 a night, two-night minimum on weekends
Reservations: 415-362-7255 (U.S. Lighthouse Society) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information: www.uslhs.org
Conducted by Friends of Point No Point Lighthouse, Saturdays and Sundays, April through September, noon to 4 p.m. Free; donation encouraged. (During the week, U.S. Lighthouse Society provides chaperoned access to lighthouse for duplex guests.) Tour does not include access to Lantern Room (tower with Fresnel lens). Information: 360-337-5362 or www.pointnopointlighthouse.com.
Hansville Grocery and Provision, 7542 N.E. Twin Spits Road, Hansville. Homemade sandwiches, wraps, burgers and espresso to go.
Puerto Vallarta Restaurant, 8208 N.E. Highway 104, Kingston. Family-style Mexican food in a shopping center that also has pizza, teriyaki and sandwich restaurants.
The Keeper's Cove Restaurant and Buffet, The Point Casino, 7879 N.E. Salish Lane, Kingston.
Stock up the kitchen
Hansville Grocery and Provision (see above). A three-minute drive from the lighthouse, it stays open late and sells all the basics.
Albertson's, 8196 N.E. Highway 104, Kingston. Full-service grocery where the highway crosses Hansville Road.
Kingston Thriftway, 10978 N.E. Highway 104, Kingston. Full-service grocery closest to the ferry terminal.
Other lighthouse rentals
For information on staying at lighthouse-keeper's quarters elsewhere in Western Washington:
Point Robinson, Vashon Island: www.vashonparkdistrict.org/section_facilities/facilities_lodging_pg1.htm
Browns Point, Tacoma: www.pointsnortheast.org
New Dungeness, Dungeness Spit: www.newdungenesslighthouse.com/lighthousekeepers.html
North Head, Ilwaco, Pacific County: www.parks.wa.gov/vacationhouses/capedisappointment.asp
More information on Washington lighthouses
www.walightkeepers.com (Washington Lightkeepers Association)
Map | Lighthouses where you can stay the night
View Larger Map
HANSVILLE, Kitsap County — First came Dr. John S. Maggs, a Seattle dentist who left his practice to become the first keeper of Point No Point Lighthouse in 1880.
His keeper's log reads like an overwrought drama, chronicling numerous clashes he had with a nemesis assistant:
"This a.m. Assistant Manning ran bell between 12 and 1 o'clock when there was a good horizon three miles off with not a particle of halo around the light and when I told him about it, that there was no need of running bell he said that I was a 'damned liar.' "
While running the show at Point No Point, keepers and their families lived in one side of a duplex built beside the lighthouse. The assistant keeper's family lived in the other half, which unfortunately for Maggs meant only a wall separated him from Manning.
The lighthouse having gone fully automated in 1977, Point No Point's lightkeepers are vestiges of the past. But visitors can vicariously experience the life of a lightkeeper. For the first time in the 128-year history of the lighthouse, the keeper's residence is being leased as a vacation rental.
The U.S. Lighthouse Society, which maintains a research library on lighthouse history, moved into the other half of the duplex in April. Its offices had been located within a San Francisco financial-district high-rise.
"For an organization like ours to be able to move to a lighthouse is exciting and will help us gain visibility," said Jeff Gales, executive director.
The society is managing the vacation rental for Kitsap County, which about 10 years ago assumed the lighthouse property from the U.S. Coast Guard and had been renting the duplex on month-to-month leases.
Point No Point becomes the fifth lighthouse in Washington where vacationers can stay. The others are Point Robinson on Vashon Island, Browns Point near Tacoma, New Dungeness near Sequim and North Head at Ilwaco, Pacific County.
The Lighthouse Society hopes to turn the front room on its side of the keeper's duplex into a minimuseum that would draw tourists who bounce from lighthouse to lighthouse the way rabid baseball fans take summer road trips to various ballparks.
"Lighthouses are like grandchildren," said Elinor DeWire, of Seabeck, Kitsap County, who has written more than a dozen books on lighthouses. "You can't say which is your favorite. Some are cuter than others. Some have better behavior. But you love them all."
As lighthouses go, Point No Point is not particularly cute. Lighthouse form reflected function, and Point No Point needed to be close to the ground so as to not hover above the fog line. It rises a modest 30 feet, falling short of the romanticized visage of the soaring column on the sea.
The setting of Point No Point, however, is gorgeous. The lighthouse is located at the apex of an isolated sandy beach littered with driftwood — perfect for long, leisurely strolls, especially during low tides.
Sunsets paint the sky a searing orange. Whidbey Island, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and the crest of downtown Seattle all are within eyeshot.
At the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula, Point No Point was the first lighthouse built on Puget Sound, strategically positioned at the junction with Admiralty Inlet.
All manner of marine vessels heading to or from Seattle, Tacoma and the naval base in Bremerton pass through here: container ships, cruise liners, hydrofoils, fishing boats, tugs and barges, submarines, aircraft carriers, sailboats, yachts and even kayaks.
Boat watchers have plenty to see. And it's a great place for bird-watching, too, as the lighthouse and duplex are adjacent to a wetland.
The current can be strong, so swimming off the beach is discouraged. But the waves are gentle as they hit shore, except when giant ships churn on by.
In the duplex, the sounds of waves produce a sleep-inducing lullaby in the upstairs master bedroom, which also boasts an unobstructed view of the Sound.
Lens like a chandelier
Scheduled to begin operation on Jan. 1, 1880, Point No Point Lighthouse suffered an inauspicious start, according to the keeper's log.
The weather was "very cold and disagreeable," Maggs wrote.
The powerful Fresnel lens that would shoot a light beam across the horizon had not yet arrived from France. Storm panes for the tower had yet to be installed.
Determined that a beacon would shine on the scheduled opening day, Maggs hung a common hand lantern from the top of the tower dome, draping canvas against the wind.
A Fresnel (say "fray-nel") lens — made of angled prisms that capture light and focus it out through the center — is the apple of the eye of lighthouse admirers.
"I think it looks like a ballroom chandelier," DeWire, the lighthouse book author, said.
The Coast Guard shut off Point No Point's Fresnel lens two years ago, switching to a beacon rotating on a post. Aesthetically, it was like replacing a crystal chandelier with a $29.95 Home Depot lamp.
The Washington Lightkeepers Association, a preservation group that DeWire founded, along with Friends of Point No Point Lighthouse, a local group that conducts tours of the lighthouse, persuaded the Coast Guard to keep the Fresnel lens in the tower even though it no longer is in use.
"You can't pluck the eye out of a lighthouse," DeWire said.
Although tours of the lighthouse — weekends only, from April to September — do not include access to the Fresnel lens, its beauty easily is appreciated from the ground.
In the evening, the setting sun bathes light on the tower, giving the lens a purplish glow.
When Navy Lt. Charles Wilkes conducted his famous exploration of Puget Sound in 1841, he named the spit Point No Point because, from the ship, the point appeared larger than it actually was.
The local native tribes called it Hahdskus, or "Long Nose."
A rock just beyond the duplex marks where the Treaty of Point No Point was signed in 1855, and thus where the tribes of the Northern Kitsap Peninsula ceded ownership of their lands to Washington Territory and Gov. Isaac Stevens.
Like the point, the lighthouse from a distance appears larger than it actually is. The duplex, on the other hand, is spacious — so roomy, in fact, that during World War II, as many as 54 Navy sailors at a time slept in hammocks in the attic while recuperating from minor injuries.
Keepers resided in the duplex until 1977.
"The lighthouse keeper was a venerable occupation," DeWire said. "It was like being the town preacher."
For Maggs, who sermonized about his bothersome assistant, the occupation also made him vulnerable. In one particularly nasty confrontation between the two men, Manning locked himself in the lighthouse tower, armed with a pistol, and threatened Maggs' life if he dared come inside. Maggs reported the incident to his superiors, who arrived to escort Manning off Point No Point.
"Myself and family all feel great relief that the Mannings are all gone for we have suffered untold annoyances from the first day that they arrived here until today they left from here," Maggs wrote in his log.
These days, annoyances for those visiting or staying at Point No Point are pretty much nonexistent. That is, unless or until Maggs and Manning decide to return for one dramatic, ghostly final showdown.
Stuart Eskenazi: 206-464-2293 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
NEW - 7:51 PM
Special interest? There is a camp for that