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The Haunted Port Townsend Lighthouse
Point Wilson Lighthouse
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
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 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
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
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 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.
More Information about the Point Wilson Lighthouse
- JENNIFER JACKSON'S PORT TOWNSEND NEIGHBOR COLUMN: Ghost stories light up keeper's house -- Port Ange
Your #1 News Source for the Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend and beyond.
- History Link - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History
This is a great website with an incredible amount of information about the history of Washington State.
- Port Townsend Coast Guard Auxillary Flotilla #47
The Port Townsend Coast Guard Auxillary Flotilla 47 provides volunteers to staff the lighthouse for free guided tours. 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. Fo
- Fort Worden State Park
Fort Worden is a Washington State Park adjacent to the Point Wilson Lighthouse. It is a beautiful state park and if you are thinking of visiting the lighthouse including camping spots and overnight accommodations can also be reserved in the picturesq
- Point Wilson Lighthouse, Washington at Lighthousefriends.com
Point Wilson Lighthouse, Washington Lighthouses, Photographs, pictures, history, location, travel information, maps, description, hotel, Lighthousefriends.com
© 2010 Vicki Green