Smith (aka Blunt) Island Lighthouse marked a small island at the eastern end of Washington’s Strait of Juan De Fuca, six miles off shore from Whidbey Island. It was among the first five lights in Washington state along with Cape Disappointment (1856), New Dungeness (1857), Cape Flattery (1857) and Willapa Bay (1858). Built in 1858, using the same design as many New England lights, Smith Island had a 1 ½ story keeper’s house with the lantern room centered on the roof. Other buildings at the station included twin Cape Cod residences, a watch shack, a third residence and boat house. When originally constructed, the lighthouse stood about 200 feet away from a sixty foot bluff on the island's western edge.
Almost from the beginning, the bluff began to erode and by 1950 the lighthouse was less than 50 feet away. As the erosion continued, the lighthouse was abandoned and replaced by a light on a skeleton pole. A portion of the structure hung onto the edge of the bluff until 1998 when, what remained of the lighthouse tumbled into the water. However, thanks to the efforts of author Jim Gibbs, the entire building was not lost forever. In the 1960’s he wanted to obtain the lighthouse and relocate it to property he owned at the tip of Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula, near the town of Hansville. Unfortunately, it was determined that the building would not survive the move but Gibbs was able to retrieve the lantern room. In 1965, using plans from the Mukilteo Lighthouse, he built the Skunk Bay Lighthouse and topped it with the Smith Lighthouse lantern room. Today, along with a Fresnel lens, it is back in action as a private aid to navigation. In addition, the original lens from Smith Island can be seen at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.
For lighthouse passport stamp collectors, Smith Island light can be remembered by collecting the Skunk Bay stamp from the Society’s National Headquarters in Hansville and the MOHAI stamp in Seattle which depicts the lens from the lighthouse.
References and for further information about the Smith Island Lighthouse:
- A Visit with Jim Gibbs, by Elinor DeWire
The set of stamps will be shipped to you via 1st class U.S. Mail.