Historic site sheds light on maritime history

  • Tue Mar 27th, 2012 7:08pm

<b>FAMILY TIME | </b>By Caroline Lippert-Burrows For The Weekly Herald

When I visited the Mukilteo Lighthouse recently, I could see why so many passersby had to stop and look at this magnificent structure that has stood since 1906.

There’s something special about a lighthouse. Maybe it’s because it exudes such a sense of local history, or because it’s been such a beacon of light and hope for so many years.

On the day I went to the Mukilteo Lighthouse, I was greeted by volunteer tour guide Herb Pridmore, who obviously has passion and an extensive knowledge of this National Historic site.

When I walked through the front door of this piece of history, I could see artifacts, informational books, navigation lights, a large Fresnel lens (like the one at the top of the lighthouse) and a pictorial history of lighthouses.

Next up on the tour is what everyone who visits the Mukilteo Lighthouse is waiting for (I know I was): the jaunt up to the top where the inspiring light beams.

When he gives tours to kids, Pridmore always asks them to count the steps on the way to the top of the lighthouse. He informed me there are 36 total and the kids always confirm the count is correct.

The steps are steep and winding (you can’t help but notice that) and adults and kids alike will need to hold onto the rail as they walk up.

Getting to the top is well worth the challenge, just to see how it feels to be near that 150-watt bulb housed inside a Fresnel lens in a structure that has stood the test of time. The light is on 24 hours a day, two seconds on, three seconds off.

Once at the top, you can go through a door outside and experience the tremendous view of Whidbey, Hat and Camano islands. You can also feel the wind in your hair, hear the sounds of the gusts, see the seagulls flying at eye level, look at the Mukilteo waterfront and watch a ferry dock or leave.

For those who visit the lighthouse on a foggy day, you might even get to experience the fog horn sound, 3 seconds on and 27 seconds off.

Another wonderful addition to the lighthouse tour, if you’re lucky to have him there on the day you visit, is Christopher Summitt in the persona of Jacob Fowler, one of the founders of Mukilteo.

Dressed in traditional clothing of the time, Summitt offered a wealth of information on everything historic-Mukilteo and helped enhanced the educational portion of my lighthouse experience.

For those of you who would like to bring home a memento to remember your lighthouse experience, there is the gift shop located in one of the keeper’s quarters. There you’ll find trinkets, cups, jewelry (my favorite was a choker necklace with a dangling lighthouse charm), coasters, glass statues, wind chimes, apparel for adults and kids, educational books, sea creatures and much more.

Inside the same keeper’s quarters, you’ll also find more history on the Mukilteo Lighthouse and other historical exhibits on Mukilteo.

Mukilteo Lighthouse

WHEN: 12-5 p.m. weekends and holidays, April 7 through September

WHERE: 608 Front St., Mukilteo

COST: Free; donations accepted

MORE INFO: 425-513-9602, www.mukilteolighthouse.com