Flag flies over Turn Point Light Station

After an absence of 36 years, the U.S. flag was raised at the Turn Point Light Station on Stuart Island.

The Aug. 12 ceremony was conducted by the Turn Point Lighthouse Preservation group. Special guests included Dan and Gloria Alexander of Olympia. Dan and Gloria were newlyweds when the Coast Guard assigned Dan to Turn Point in 1949.

Just as he did 60 years ago, Dan raised the flag, accompanied by “To the Colors” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Shortly after, the “J” and “K” Orca pods arrived and put on a spectacular show. There were several breaches, tail slaps, spyhops, and even a cartwheel.

The light at Turn Point was commissioned on Nov. 30, 1893. It marks a critical turn on the shipping route to Canada and the inside passage to Alaska. In 1974 the U. S. Coast Guard automated the light and horn. The U.S. Flag was lowered, the flag pole removed, and the personnel departed the station.

Turn Point was assumed by the Washington State Parks Department until they turned it back to the Government. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) assumed responsibility in 1991.

Over the years, the station was subject to deterioration from the elements and vandalism. Margaret and Michael Jonas of Orcas Island created the Turn Point Lighthouse Preservation Society in 2005 to preserve the history and structures at Turn Point. Since forming, the group has hosted several work parties, open houses, established a museum in the “Mule Barn,” and utilized volunteer docents to host the thousands of yearly visitors.

In 2008 the preservation society was awarded $5000 from the Lighthouse License Plate fund to establish the museum, to do research, and establish a mobile presentation program. In 2009, it was awarded another $3000 to finish rewiring the barn and to install low power LED lighting in the museum.

The Preservation Society recently wanted to fly the U.S. Flag over the site, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. A proposal was written and sent to BLM, and as the site is on the State Heritage list, all work must also be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office. The approval was received, a pole was ordered, and a mounting arrangement was designed to utilize a modern flag pole on a base built in 1914. Turn Point Lighthouse Preservation Society director and historian Jim Bergquist designed the mounts, which were fabricated by member Kent Sooter and installed with the help of BLM engineer Alex Kwan.

The flag will be flown anytime the museum is open to the public and on special occasions.