52 Weeks of Fun

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, BLM

Turn Point Lighthouse


The Turn Point Light is an active aid to navigation overlooking the Haro Straits from the western tip of Stuart Island, in the San Juan Islands of Washington. With its commanding view of Haro Strait and the Canadian Gulf Islands, Turn Point offers wonderful opportunities for photographers and visitors who appreciate nature and history. The nearby Canadian and Olympic Mountains provide wonderful scenic backdrops to this special area.

Operation of the light began in 1893 with the construction of a fog signal building and a two-story keepers’ quarters. A steam-powered Daboll trumpet served as the fog signal. The fog signal was typically in operation around 200 hours each year, but in 1896, with the installation of two powerful steam engines, it ran for up to 929 hours, consuming as much as three tons of coal. In 1913, an oil house was built, and the steam engines powering the foghorn were converted to an oil engine, using just thirty gallons of oil each year.

The station's first light was a lens lantern displayed from a post located close to the point. According to the January 1930 Lighthouse Service Bulletin, “Lenses from two 300-millimeter lens lanterns are mounted one above the other, with suitable provisions for focusing the lamp filaments and for ventilation. In one lens is fitted a 150-watt, 110-volt special lightship electric lamp, and in the other a 400-watt, 110-volt G-30 type bulb electric lamp and red screen, providing a beam candlepower estimated to be 2,500 for each light. The characteristic obtained by flashes from both lamps is white occulting 2.5 seconds, eclipse 3 seconds, white 2.5 seconds, eclipse 3 seconds, red 1 second, eclipse 8 seconds, for every 20 seconds. Occultations are provided by means of a sign flasher. The current is supplied by a 2.8-kilowatt generator drive by a 6-horsepower oil engine.

Then, in 1936, a square concrete tower was added to the site with a 12-inch light emanating at a 44-foot focal plane. A diaphragm foghorn replaced the Daboll trumpet, and in 1974, the station was automated.

The station is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is part of the San Juan Islands National Monument, which was created in 2013. Turn Point is one of the best places on BLM-managed lands to see orca whales. Recreational activities include hiking, camping, boating, sea kayaking, watching wildlife, and viewing wildflowers. Volunteers with the Turn Point Lighthouse Preservation Society offer seasonal docent-guided tours of the original 1893 Keepers’ House and a first-class exhibit of historic photos.

, Trip Advisor
, Jeff Friedman

A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Turn Point Lighthouse

On October 7, 2014, San Juan County became the first county in the United States designated as a voluntary Leave No Trace area.

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