Digest>Archives> January 1999

Destruction Island's First Order Lens Finds New Home


You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Washington state's Destruction Island Lighthouse ...
Photo by: Bob and Sandra Shanklin

"I feel like Dorothy standing in front of the Wizard of Oz" - "a reverent experience" - are just some of the many comments heard by Bill Hanable, Managing Director of the Westport Marine Museum, as he overhears people viewing the majestic Fresnel lens from the Destruction Island Lighthouse for the first time.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Westport Maritime Museum Director, Bill Hanable ...
Photo by: Courtesy of the So. Beach Bulletin newspaper.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Jim Dunlap, curator of the Ponce Inlet Maritime ...
Photo by: Barb Aue

"People have been patiently waiting for three years to see this extraordinary lens of thousands of beveled glass edges," said Hanable. "This is the result of many months of fund-raising, and many more hours of construction and re-assembly," he added.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Jim Dunlap (l) of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse in ...
Photo by: Beverly Lynch

Hanable went on to explain that the Westport exhibit is considered by the experts to be the best first order Fresnel lens display in the world, "because the lens rotates, it is housed in a large enough building so that people can see all sides, and it is in very good condition."

In 1995 the Coast Guard removed the lens from the isolated Destruction Island Lighthouse and placed it in storage while they figured out what to do with it. The Coast Guard placed several conditions on a new home for the lens. The first being preservation, the second that it be available for the public to view, including the handicapped, and the third was it must be on display to the public in 1998.

The Westport Marine Museum took on the challenge of building a new home for the historic lens. "We're going to build it," said Laurie Rust, co-chair of the museums "Lighthouse 98" project, and build it they did. The new 70 foot length of the building allows photographers to capture the entire lens. A handicap-accessible ramp goes around three sides of the lens to a height of six feet, allowing visitors to get an excellent view, something that would never have been possible had the lens remained on the remote island that it once called home.

Actual assembly of the lens came from the volunteer efforts of Jim Dunlap, curator of the Ponce Inlet Museum in Florida and CWO Joe Cocking of the U.S. Coast Guard. Dunlap and Cocking worked 10-12 hour days to reassemble the lens. The two men, both considered experts on Fresnel lens, were flown to Washington, courtesy of volunteers Randy and Laurie Rust, who donated their guest house, with a packed refrigerator, over-looking the ocean, for the men to use. Local restaurants donated meal coupons, enabling the two men to dine in style.

This has been an expensive project for the museum, and ongoing donations to maintain the facility are always appreciated. You can write to them at Westport Marine Museum, 2201 Westhaven Dr., P.O. Box 1074, Westport, WA 98595-1074. Phone 360-268-0078. You can also visit them on the Internet at http://www.westportwa.com/museum.

The museum is open, free to the public, daily, 10am - 5pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day. Other times of the year on Wed-Fri, noon to 4pm and Sat. and Sun. from 10am to 5pm. Westport, WA, (The Salmon Capital of the World), is located on the southwestern edge of Grays Harbor, separating the harbor from the Pacific Ocean. It is a small community with a population under 2000.

This story appeared in the January 1999 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.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History