Light Hearted

Light Hearted ep 223 – Debra Alderman, Alki Point, Washington

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.

Alki Point Lighthouse, Washington. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

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.

A fourth-order Fresnel lens on display inside the lighthouse.

Information on tours at Alki Point Lighthouse

Facebook page for Alki Point Lighthouse

Email address for information on Alki Point Lighthouse

7 thoughts on “Light Hearted ep 223 – Debra Alderman, Alki Point, Washington

  1. The lighthouse looks beautiful from the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. I would like to take a tour of the lighthouse. How will I know what days you will have a give the tours?

      1. Hi everyone,
        Thanks for asking! We will start the Alki Point Lighthouse tours this coming weekend (Sunday, May 28th).
        Note that there will not be any tours happening on July 2nd. But we’re going to try to have the lighthouse open every other Sunday this summer. Another place you can look for tour updates is the facebook page:
        Hope the podcast listeners can come visit this year!
        –Debra Alderman, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
        Alki Point Lighthouse Tours Project Officer

  2. Not sure if I commented upon this suggestion before but here goes. I grew up near the Watch Hill Lighthouse and at night could see the flashing red and white light and hear the foghorn. I no longer live in the area, but my heart still resides in the Watch Hill area. AS you may know future ownership of the Lighthouse is now in the hands of the U S Park Service. Bids were submitted over a year ago and with selection to be announced soon, I’m told. The light along with the life savings station have a colorful history that took root in the village of Watch Hill. Some highlights include the following. Oliver Hazard Perry ran his brig aground on the reef in thick fog and about 10 year ago her cannon were found on the bottom. In the early 1950’s the steamer Carmack owned by 3M of Minneapolis ran aground on the reef just before sunrise as a total loss. Passengers/crew were rescued by a Stonington dragger headed out into the sound. Carmack was outbound from Stonington CT. She lay on the reef until a November Nor ester washed her off the rocks into deeper waters. Ann Snowden Johnson current President of the Watch Hill Lighthouse Keepers Assoc (whlhka) would be a great resource on these events as well as many others . The Association has been caretaker of the lighthouse, keepers quarters and seawalls since the 1980’s and have done a magnificent job in keeping the lighthouse in excellent condition. Light characteristics have changed since the 1940’s and Taylor Swifts home on Watch Hill itself looks down on the light. This may make a great POD Cast

    1. Thanks for your comment, Hal! I have visited Watch Hill Lighthouse a number of times and I have had contact over the years with the Watch Hill Lighthouse Keepers Association. It would be a good subject for an episode of the podcast and I will definitely consider it. It’s a beautiful spot with interesting history, as you noted.

  3. After I was interviewed, I realized I probably mis-identified where I heard the correct original pronunciation of the Chinuk-Wawa jargon word that evolved into the name Alki. I believe that I actually learned the correct original pronunciation on a piece that aired on KUOW (public radio) in 2016 where a fluent Chinuk-Wawa speaker, Tony Johnson, a member of the Chinook Indian Nation, was interviewed. Johnson explains the origins of the trade language and he pronounces the word correctly. You can listen to it here:

    1. Hi Debra – Thanks for that clarification, and thank you again for the great interview.

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