Digest>Archives> November 2005

The Lost History of Washington's Semiahmoo Lighthouse

By Timothy Harrison


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Daniel Webster Clark in the lantern room at ...

Semiahmoo Harbor Lighthouse was established near Blaine, Washington, close to the Canadian border, in 1905. The light station consisted of a 1 1/2-story dwelling built on a platform supported by wooden piles, with a lantern at the center of its peaked roof. The lighthouse had a fourth order Fresnel lens and a third class fog trumpet. One of the keepers was Edward Durgan who had previously served as the lighthouse keeper of the Patos Island Lighthouse and he had no desire to serve at Semiahmoo Island Lighthouse.

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Semiahmoo Harbor Lighthouse was described by ...

In the book The Light on the Island by Helen Glidden, published in 1951, she wrote that her father told the family in 1913, “That little birdhouse perched up on stilts at Blaine. It’s a mile in the sea from town. I won’t go. I won’t.” However, according to Helen in her book, her mother convinced her father to go, saying they would buy a nice house in town and after he got things running in order at the lighthouse, he could leave his son Roy in charge and then open the shoe business he had always dreamt of owning. He agreed. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack at the lighthouse in March of 1919 while raising the station boat up on the pulleys. He was replaced as keeper by his widow, Estelle.

Photographs and memories of Semiahmoo are rare and seem to have been lost in the pages of time. In fact, we have never been able to locate a photograph of Edward Durgan and we’re sure there are photographs of him somewhere.

Recently, Amisa Pollard of Minnesota helped us uncover some of the lost lighthouse history of the Pacific Coast when she sent us this photo of her ancestor, Daniel Webster Clark, taken in the lantern room of Semiahmoo Harbor Lighthouse when he was an assistant keeper there around 1930. Clark was born in Tennessee in 1872 and died in Washington in 1954. He had previously served as assistant keeper at Patos Island Lighthouse in Georgia Strait. We can only assume that Durgan and Clark must have known each other.

We’d love to hear from anyone who has additional information on Semiahmoo Harbor Lighthouse, especially old photographs of the lighthouse and the keepers and other family members that lived there and any type of recorded memories.

Send to Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630 or email editor@LighthouseDigest.com.

This story appeared in the November 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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