Patos Island Lighthouse

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photos by Linda Hudson

Patos Island, San Juan Islands, Washington

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About Patos Island Lighthouse

Spanish explorers in the 18th century called the northernmost tip of the San Juan Islands the Isla de Patos (Island of Ducks). But the ship captains who followed wanted a way to duck navigational problems. So a lighthouse was built in the Boundary Pass at Alden Point on the western tip of Patos Island in 1893. It beamed a red light, while the lighthouse on the Canadian, or eastern side of the Pass had a white light.

The lighthouse was improved in 1908 with a new fog signal and a 38-foot tower, which housed a fourth-order Fresnel lens. The light was automated in 1974, and the original Fresnel lens purchased by a private collector. Today, the lighthouse flashes a white light once every six seconds and has two red sectors marking dangerous shoals off the island.

Proceeds from the sale of Washington Lighthouse license plates have helped keep Patos Island Lighthouse shining with the following interpretive projects:

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