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Cape Flattery Lighthouse

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Cape Flattery Lighthouse
Cape Loop Road
Neah Bay, Washington 98357
Voice: 360-963-2339

In March of 1778, Captain James Cook visited the waters off the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. An opening along the coast had "flattered" Captain Cook into thinking he had located a harbor or passage, prompting him to name the place Cape Flattery. Captain Cook noted in his logbook: In this very latitude geographers have placed the pretended Strait of Juan de Fuca. But nothing of that kind presented itself to our view, nor is it probable that any such thing ever existed.

In 1788, Captain John Meares, one of several explorers who managed to confirm the existence of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, visited a small island a half mile off Cape Flattery. Meares encountered the "surly and forbidding" Tatooche, Chief of the Makah Indians who had been using the island as a summer base for hunting whales and catching and drying salmon for years. Meares reportedly named the island Tatoosh after the Chief.

In 1849-50, Wm. McArthur led an expedition surveying sites for lighthouses along the west coast. McArthur gave the following report after visiting Cape Flattery.

A lighthouse is much needed also at Cape Flattery and I would recommend that it be situated on Tatoochi Island, a small island almost touching the Northwest extremity of Cape Flattery to vessels bound from seaward a lighthouse on this island would be of much assistance. It would enable them to enter the straits, when the absence of a light would frequently compel them to stay at sea until daylight.

Congress allocated a sum of $39,000 in 1854 to construct both the Cape Flattery Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island and one on the New Dungeness Spit. These two lights were part of the second batch of eight lighthouses to be completed on the west coast.



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