Fifty years after reading “The Light on the Island” by Helene Glidden, Linda Hudson of Lopez Island, Washington, and her childhood friend Carla Chalker, of Camp Lake, Wisconsin, finally visited the book’s famous lighthouse on Washington’s Patos Island. Following their first visit in the summer of 2007, they were inspired to found the non-profit organization “The Keepers of the Patos Light”.
“As ten-year-olds growing up in Chicago, Ill., we were fascinated by the true story of a family with 13 children who grew up on the island where their father was the lighthouse keeper,” Hudson said. “The descriptions of the beauty, isolation, fun and hardships stuck with us for a lifetime. It was a dream come true to see the lighthouse in real life.”
Patos Island, five miles northwest of Orcas Island, is located at the northernmost point of Washington State’s San Juan Islands. The Bureau of Land Management, (BLM), in cooperation with the Keepers of the Patos Light, has plans to restore and open the lighthouse to visitors. “We are dreaming big,” said Hudson. “After replacing the roof and repairing the lighthouse, inside and out, we plan to have interpretive displays, a museum and a gift shop.”
“The Turn Point Light Station Preservation Society (TPLPS) has been very helpful to us in starting our organization. We have many similar goals,” said Hudson. “The Orcas Island Fire Department has ‘adopted’ the lighthouse and the Orcas Island Fire Chief is even on our Board.”
Chalker maintains the organization’s website since she lives in the Midwest and is unable to visit Patos Island regularly. The site, www.patoslightkeepers.org, shows the work the group has already done and invites the public to help with the lighthouse preservation.
The existing lighthouse was improved in 1908 with a new fog signal and a 38-foot tower. The light was automated in 1974. Still in use today, it flashes a white light once every six seconds.
Keepers of the Patos Light will sponsor a 100-year anniversary event in the summer of 2008. To join or donate to KOPL or to find out about volunteer work parties going out to Patos Island, email: Patoslightkeepers@hotmail.com.
Patos Island is only accessible by private boat or charter. Charters are available through Eclipse Charters on Orcas Island, www.orcasislandwhales.com and Paraclete Charters of Anacortes, Washington, www.paracletecharters,com. Washington State Parks maintains mooring buoys in Active Cove and seven basic campsites.
This story appeared in the
August 2008 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.
All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.