Lighthouse preservation inspired by book
By Claudia Bradley
Dec 18 2007
Fifty years after reading “The Light on the Island” by Helene Glidden, Linda Hudson of Lopez Island and her childhood friend Carla Chalker, of Wisconsin, finally visited the famous lighthouse on Patos Island. They were inspired to found the non-profit organization “The Keepers of the Patos Light” to preserve the lighthouse.
“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, located five miles northwest of Orcas Island, is the northernmost point of the San Juan Islands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in cooperation with the Keepers of the Patos Light have plans to restore and open the lighthouse to visitors. “We are dreaming big,” said Hudson. “After replacing the roof and repairing the lighthouse we’d like to have interpretive displays, a museum and 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 EMT Max Jones is on our Keepers’ board of directors.”
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.
Patos Island is only accessible by private boat or charter. Charters are available through Eclipse Charters on Orcas Island and Paraclete Charters of Anacortes. Washington State Parks maintains mooring buoys and 7 campsites on Patos Island.
The existing lighthouse was improved in 1908 with a new fog signal and a 38-foot tower. It will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in the summer of 2008. The light was automated in 1974. Still in use today, it flashes a white light once every six seconds. For more information, email Patoslightkeepers@hotmail.com
This article appeared in The Islands’ Sounder, Orcas Island WA
Nick Teague, BLM Ranger for the San Juan Islands, lives on Lopez Island. Nick is the BLM liaison for the Keepers of the Patos Light (KOPL). In 2006 and 2007, the BLM sponsored an American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation on Lopez Island. Nick took the groups to Patos Island on work projects, and it was then that We finally got to visit the island we had read about so long ago. After the 2007 vacation, Nick approached us with the idea of forming a group to preserve the lighthouse and island, and the KOPL was born.We would like to thank Nick for coming to us with the idea. We are proud to be a part of, as he so eloquently put it, “folks doing good work to preserve this valuable place from becoming a whisper of the past”.