MUKILTEO — A century ago, manning the Mukilteo Lighthouse was considered a posh Coast Guard job — but it wasn’t easy work.
Kerosene oil had to be carried up the steep, twisting staircase inside the lighthouse to keep the lantern lit inside the tower’s lens. There was yard work to be done outside. The grounds had to be kept spotless at all times, in case a Coast Guard inspector came by unannounced.
Those days are long gone, but the lighthouse won’t clean itself.
On Saturday, more than a dozen volunteers with the Mukilteo Historical Society spent their morning cleaning the lighthouse grounds, as they do every year before opening the lighthouse to visitors for the spring and summer.
They stocked the gift shop, vacuumed carpets in the former living quarters and polished the brass inside the lighthouse.
“We look forward to it, we have a good time,” said Ellen Koch, a past president of the historical society. “Several people came, so it only takes us a couple of hours.”
Some of the tasks didn’t qualify as typical household work.
During the winter, a bird found its way inside the lighthouse tower and made quite a mess of things. Also, birds tend to perch on the railing atop the lighthouse tower, leaving behind a thick layer of droppings.
Scrubbing off the bird poop is something the cleaning crew expects to do each year, historical society member Ann Collier said.
“Not all of it is very appealing work,” she said.
The opening day for the lighthouse visiting season is April 5, this coming Saturday. Koch and others are planning to dress in costume and perform historical re-enactments at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to teach people about the region’s history.
Koch plans to portray Theodine Christiansen, who was the wife of Peter Christiansen, the first lighthouse keeper in Mukilteo. After her husband died in September 1925, Theodine Christiansen worked a few months as lighthouse keeper. She was the only woman to hold the job.
Mukilteo Historical Society President John Petroff plans to portray Peter Puget, a member of the British Royal Navy for whom Puget Sound was named. Puget Sound used to be just a small area near Tacoma, but over the years it was expanded northward, Petroff said.
“The more we understand our own history, the more we can understand ourselves and our society, and why we are the way we are,” Petroff said.
Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or email@example.com.