Elliott Bay, on Puget Sound in the state of Washington, extends southeastward between West Point in the north and Alki Point in the south. The city of Seattle was founded on the bay and the city now surrounds it completely. The bay has served as a key element of the local economy, enabling the Port of Seattle to become one of the busiest ports in the United States. The first navigational light at Alki Point was a kerosene lantern hung on the side of a barn in the 1870s by the property owner.
The Lighthouse Board eventually recognized the need for something more substantial, and a lens lantern was installed on a wooden post at the point. In 1913, the present lighthouse building was completed. It consists of a 37-foot-tall octagonal brick tower attached to a fog signal building. Two residences were also constructed for the keepers and their families.
The station was automated in 1984, and the principal keeper’s quarters became the home of the commander of the Thirteenth Coast Guard District. Today, Coast Guard Auxiliarists provide public tours on most Sunday afternoons between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Debra Alderman serves as the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s project officer for public tours at Alki Point Lighthouse. She has also been instrumental in outreach events for the Auxiliary across South Seattle.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org