In the mid-1800's, ships bound for Puget Sound would
pass through Admiralty Inlet from the Strait of San
Juan de Fuca. Vessels needed to veer southeast to
pass between Point Wilson and Admiralty Head.
To assist navigators, Admiralty Head Lighthouse was established
in 1861 on Red Bluff. The lighthouse consisted
of a tower constructed on a wooden dwelling, and
housed a fourth-order Fresnel lens. The focal
plane of the light was 119 feet above sea level.
The light underwent several improvements up through the 1890's.
A water cistern was added in 1868. In 1875, attic space was converted
to a watch room. In 1880 a winch for transporting
supplies and a fence to deter grazing cattle were built.
Later additions included a tramway for launching boats in 1882,
and an oil house and water tank in 1890. The lamp inside the lens
was upgraded in 1899.
The first keeper, William Robertson, was a political appointee
who served from 1861 to 1864. He was replaced by another
political appointee, Dan Pearson, in 1864. Prior to Pearson's
tenure (1864-1878), his daughter Josephine died.
After her death, Pearson moved to
Whidbey Island to be close to another daughter, Gloria,
and became keeper at Admiralty Head. Georgia became assistant
keeper. When Georgia married in 1866, her place at the lighthouse
was taken by her younger sister Flora. She, too eventually
married and resigned. Her father resigned shortly afterwards.
Charles Davis served as keeper from 1900 until 1914.
He had previously served at Tillamook Rock
and Point Robinson. His wife died in 1901. He later remarried in 1903.
His second wife also died at the lighthouse in 1913. Four months later,
on January 8, 1914, Davis himself died at the lighthouse.
Davis had the distinction of serving at both of Admiralty Head's lights.
During the Spanish-American War era, the government built Fort Casey
at Admiralty Head to guard the entrance to Puget Sound. The wooden
lighthouse was dismantled, as it stood on grounds designated for a battery.
A new lighthouse, designed by Carl Leick and
built by the War Department, was put in place in 1903. The structure
was a cylindrical tower attached to a two-story residence.
The tower inherited the lens from the first light.
Only two more keepers served at the new light.
Edward Scannell, previously of
Point No Point,
served at the lighthouse until 1919. Hans Score served until
1922, when the light was deemed unnecessary and discontinued.
By this time, mariners were navigating via the light at
Point Wilson. The lantern room was removed in 1927.
The lighthouse stood vacant until World War II, when it
housed a K-9 Corps. After the war, the light was again
abandoned. In 1950 the grounds of the fort were turned
over to the Washington State Parks Commission. The lighthouse
was restored and a new lantern room placed atop the tower.
In 1990, the US Postal Service honored the Coast Guard by
commemorating five lighthouses, including Admiralty Head.
Admiralty Head Lighthouse The Keepers of the Light, Moore pp. 3-6, 8-9, 11-13, 22
Umbrella Guide to Oregon Lighthouses, Nelson pp. 47-51
Pacific Northwest Lighthouses, Roberts and Jones pp. 48
Lighthouses Northwest - the Designs of Carl Leick, Aliberti pp. 18
Nineteenth Century Lights, Clifford p. 162