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The Haunted Port Townsend Lighthouse

Updated on January 9, 2015

Point Wilson Lighthouse

Point Wilson Lighthouse near Port Townsend, WA
Point Wilson Lighthouse near Port Townsend, WA | Source

Point Wilson Light Station

Point Wilson is a finger of land jutting into the sea where the Straight of Juan de Fuca meets Puget Sound in Washington State. Located near Port Townsend, Washington, the Point Wilson Light Station is an important navigational aid to ships traveling to Seattle and other ports in Puget Sound.

To passing ships, the lighthouse appears on the starboard side and marks the the place where ships must make a right turn to enter Admiralty Inlet if their destination is Puget Sound.

The lighthouse tower is 49 feet tall. Each light station has its own signal to help ship captains determine their location. The signal from the Point Wilson beacon is a white light which is on for 15 seconds, then off 5 seconds, with one red flash during the time it is darkened.

The original lighthouse was built at Point Wilson in 1879 and its light was visible for up to 13 miles. The current lighthouse was built in 1914, but the original lighthouse remained as the light keeper's house.

Over many decades, several lighthouse keeper's wives and other people staying in the light keeper's house have reported paranormal activities including sightings of shadowy figures, sounds like someone walking on the second floor and objects mysteriously being moved. Some people believe that the Point Wilson Lighthouse is haunted. Learn about the history of Point Wilson Light Station, see the video from a paranormal investigation, watch scuba divers explore a sunken ship and decide for yourself if you think Point Wilson Lighthouse is haunted.

A Map of Fort Worden and Point Wilson

Map of Fort Worden, Washington
Map of Fort Worden, Washington | Source

Where is Point Wilson?

Point Wilson is on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State about 60 miles northwest of Seattle. It is approximately 2 miles north of Port Townsend, Washington adjacent to Fort Worden State Park. The Point Wilson Light Station is at the tip of Point Wilson. The straight of Juan de Fuca is on the north side of the point and Admiralty Inlet is to the south.

A View of Point Wilson from Fort Worden State Park

Point Wilson and Lighthouse
Point Wilson and Lighthouse

Point Wilson Lighthouse Quick Facts

Current lighthouse built in 1914

The Tower is 49 Feet Tall

The light from the beacon may be seen for 16 miles

Powered by a a 4th order Fresnel lens

Point Wilson Light Station 1914

Point Wilson Lighthouse, Washington State 1914
Point Wilson Lighthouse, Washington State 1914 | Source

The History of Point Wilson Lighthouse

The Point Wilson Lighthouse was built in 1879 when Washington was still Washington Territory. (Washington did not become a state until 1889.)

The light was commissioned on December 15, 1879 with a fourth order barrel-type fresnel lens that was visible for up to 13 miles.

The first lighthouse keeper was David Littlefield who served as lightkeeper for about 4 years.

A new lighthouse was built in 1913 with a new concrete and masonry lighthouse tower attached to a fog signal building. It was powered with the original 4th order Fresnel lens from the original lighthouse, but the height of the new tower increased the visiblity of the light to 16 miles.

Just after midnight on Friday, April 1, 1921, a tragic accident occurred near the Point Wilson Lighthouse. The 417-foot passenger ship S. S. Governor, with 240 passengers and crew members aboard collided with the freighter S. S. West Hartland. Although a rescue effort was immediately begun, eight lives were lost when the S.S. Governor sank within 30 minutes in 240 feet of water, one mile off Point Wilson. The crew of the S.S. West Hartland were more fortunate with no loss of life.

During World War II (1941-1945), the Point Wilson light was turned off, as were several other lighthouses on the west coast to prevent them being used as landmarks for an enemy attack

In November 1976, both the lighthouse and fog signal at Point Wilson were automated. A radio-beacon transmitting signal was also installed that is used for locating a ship's position.

The fresnel lens is currently illuminated by a 1,000-watt quartz lamp. It produces a 60,000 candlepower beam that is visible for 16 miles. The foghorn signal is activated by automatic sensors that detect moisture in the air. When activated it sounds one three-second blast every 30 seconds,

See the Lens and the View from the Lighthouse Tower

The Pt Wilson Lightkeepers House

Pt Wilson Light eepers House, Washington /state
Pt Wilson Light eepers House, Washington /state

Spooky Stories of Point Wilson Lighthouse

Over the years several different Coast Guard wives who lived in the light keepers house reported seeing a movement out of the corner of their eye only to turn and see a fleeting shadow of a woman in a long dress. There were also numerous tales of unexplained sounds of footsteps or noises like someone was rummaging through a bathroom cabinet when no one else was in the house. Sometimes items from a cupboard were mysteriously pulled out and found laying on the floor. In another strange incident, cards received by a child for her birthday that had been displayed on the mantle were found scattered on the floor

A guest of one family who resided in the light keepers house was sleeping on a sofa when he awoke with the sensation that he was being smothered. He saw the figure of a woman in the nearby kitchen.

Another encounter involved a Coast Guardsman who lived in the residence. He sensed a presence as he stood cooking a meal in front of the stove in the kitchen. He turned around to see the shadowy figure of a man standing nearby.

It seems that most of the paranormal activity happened in the west side of the house which would be on the right side in the above photo. Sometimes families living in the keepers house stayed on the east (left) side of the house to avoid having any strange experiences.

Who Could Be Haunting Point Wilson Lighthouse?

One theory is that Point Wilson Lighthouse is haunted by the ghost of Maria Hastings Littlefield, the first light keepers wife. According to Washington state death records, she died July 1, 1912 and is said to have tragically lost her only son, Loren Littlefield in a drowning accident October 6, 1900.

The SS Governor

The SS Governor
The SS Governor | Source

The Sinking of the SS Governor

Another possibility is that the spirit of Lucy Washbourne wanders the Point Wilson Lighthouse.

Just after midnight on April 1, 1921, Lucy Washbourne, her husband and their two daughters were asleep in the cabin on the S.S. Governor, when it collided with the S.S. West Hartland offshore from Point Wilson. Their cabin was at the site of the impact. Lucy and her husband were rescued from the cabin, but the two girls were trapped inside. The crew were unable to reach them and left them to go down with the ship. Lucy Washbourne was hysterical and ran back into the sinking ship and she and her daughters were never seen again. A total of 8 people were lost when the SS Governor sank.

There were other numerous shipwrecks in the vicinity of Point Wilson, so perhaps some other unknown ghost or ghosts may be haunting the light keeper's house.

The Discovery of the SS Governor Shipwreck

The wreckage of the SS Governor was found by two commercial divers in 1976. It rests on the bottom of Admiralty Inlet in 240 feet of water about a mile from the Point Wilson Lighthouse. Because of the extremely hazardous diving conditions the shipwreck has only been visited a few times by very experienced teams of divers.

A Scuba Dive to the Wreckage of the SS Governor in 2010

A Dive to the SS Governor 2011

What do you think about ghosts? - Are they real or imagined?

Do you think the Point Wilson Lighthouse is haunted?

Directions to Fort Worden

The Point Wilson lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard and managed by Fort Worden State Park. The lighthouse and tower are open to visitors from May through September on Saturdays during the hours of 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Port Townsend Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla #47 offers free guided tours. For information, call (360) 385-5520 or (360) 582-3890.

Driving Instructions: From Highway 20 in Port Townsend, turn left on Kearney Street. When Kearney Street ends, turn right onto Blaine Street. From Blaine Street, turn left onto Walker Street, which becomes Cherry Street. Follow Cherry Street 1.6 miles to Fort Worden where the road changes to Fort Worden Way. Enter Fort Worden and turn right on Eisenhower Avenue. When Eisenhower Avenue ends, turn left on Harbor Defense Way and follow it 0.8 miles to the Point Wilson Lighthouse.

Lodging: Port Townsend is a picturesque seaport town located about 2 miles from the Point Wilson Lighthouse. It is known for numerous historic Victorian era homes. There are several choices for overnight lodging.

© 2010 Vicki Green

Have you ever been to a haunted lighthouse? - Feel free to leave your comments

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    • takkhisa profile image


      7 years ago

      I like reading about Lighthouse.

    • Angelgirl1976 profile image

      Lisa-Marie Kavanagh 

      7 years ago from Lincolnshire

      Hi, what a fantastic lens :) I love haunted places and I love writing about it more though :) brilliant and full of interesting info especially for me as I am from UK and do not know of these places unless they get onto TV with 'A Haunting', or Paranormal Witness' etc Thanks for the lens :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting article. You sure did a nice job of invoking feelings with this. :)

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens

    • wheresthekarma profile image


      8 years ago

      I love "haunted" lenses. I do some ghost hunting as a hobby myself. Will pin this to placed I'd like to ghost hunt board on pinterest.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very nicely written lens! Been to Port Townsend several times, but had never heard about the lighthouse being haunted. Thanks for that info!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very cool lens.....i love lighthouses....i collect them....Very nice!!!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      What a fascinating story! I got chills just reading about it and it is broad daylight.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      9 years ago

      These are fun. But I didn't know they were still building light houses in the 20th century

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      I haven't (knowingly) visited anything haunted. Would love to visit the Port Townsend area and see this lighthouse. :)

    • patinkc profile image


      9 years ago from Midwest

      I visited the Port Townsend Lighthouse several years ago, but it was not open. It was a lovely place to sit for awhile. I didn't see any ghosts. :-( I would love to go back sometime.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      I've never been to a haunted lighthouse to my knowledge, but I have been to plenty of lighthouses. The most impressive one that I can remember was Bodie Island in North Carolina, and the Cape Hatteras one which is nearby on the Outer Banks. Great lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Another great lighthouse lens, lensrolled to my lighthouse collectibles lens.

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 

      9 years ago from U.S.A.

      No, but I would love to visit one! :)

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      9 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Such sad stories! I wouldn't be surprised if one of those traumatized mothers was haunting the place!

    • PNWtravels profile imageAUTHOR

      Vicki Green 

      9 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      @SandraRoseDesigns: Thanks for visiting and the lensroll!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting lens! I like this in combination with Halloween. Lensrolled to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and to Legendary Lighthouses!

    • PNWtravels profile imageAUTHOR

      Vicki Green 

      9 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      @WhiteOak50: Thank you!

    • WhiteOak50 profile image


      9 years ago

      Fantastic lens. I am featuring it at: Scariest Places on Earth I would love to see this lighthouse!!

    • PNWtravels profile imageAUTHOR

      Vicki Green 

      9 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      @gmarlett lm: Thanks for visiting - I'm glad you enjoyed.

    • PNWtravels profile imageAUTHOR

      Vicki Green 

      9 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      @Draconius LM: Thank you!

    • profile image

      Draconius LM 

      9 years ago

      I love haunted places, lens rolled to my arkansas ghosts and urban legends lens. Very well done!!

    • profile image

      gmarlett lm 

      9 years ago

      Haunted lighthouses are amazing treasures and relics of nautical history and tragedy. Great lens -every lighthouse has a story to tell.

    • PNWtravels profile imageAUTHOR

      Vicki Green 

      9 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      @CastleRoyLisa: I am stunned - I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thank you so much!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      9 years ago from USA

      Congratulations! After completeing the August Get Cracking Challenge, lensmaster CastleRoy has awarded this terrific lens a Purple Star.

    • CastleRoyLisa profile image


      9 years ago from Rhode Island

      wonderful lens I love learning about haunted places thank you.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations! You've been SquidBoo Blasted. Happy Halloween!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I've been to a lot of lighthouses...but never a haunted one (that I know of). Interesting lens.


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