The first lighthouse in the Pacific Northwest was established in 1856 on the north side of the entrance to the Columbia River at Cape Disappointment, in the state of Washington. High land blocked the view of the light from the north, so Congress appropriated funds for a second lighthouse at North Head, just two miles north of Cape Disappointment. North Head Lighthouse, a 65-foot-tall brick tower with a sandstone base, began service in 1898 with its light 194 feet above the water.
In 2012, Washington State Parks took ownership of North Head Light Station, which is within Cape Disappointment State Park. The lighthouse has undergone a major restoration in recent years.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center stands high on the cliffs of the state park, and on display in the center is a first-order Fresnel lens that served in both of the local lighthouses at different times.
Stephen Wood is an exhibit project specialist, and Alex McMurry is a historic preservation planner for Washington State Parks.
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