One of the most-popular things to do in Point Roberts is taking in the view of the Salish Sea and enjoying sunsets at Lighthouse Marine Park. This month, we celebrate the creation of Lighthouse Park, which took place 50 years ago in June of 1973.
The park’s name predates recent efforts to construct a lighthouse there. When the federal ownership of Point Roberts ended in 1908, the land at the southwestern corner of Point Roberts was retained for a lighthouse. A wood framed lighthouse was constructed in 1910 and stood for half of a century. It is this lighthouse after which the park is named. The lighthouse was seriously damaged in the Columbus Day Storm of 1962, and it was replaced with the marine navigation light seen today.
Prior to its opening as a county park, anybody could drive in right up to the beach and even set up a campsite. Public works materials like gravel heaps and wood logs for telephone poles dotted the landscape, along with lots of trash.
All of this had to be cleared to develop the 21-acre park, leading a real estate firm in 1972 to place a newspaper ad stating, “Point Roberts is ‘on the move’! Have you seen what is happening at Lighthouse Park? Drive by and take a look! No longer is it a repository for assorted garbage and broken bottles. Its very contours have changed beyond all recognition.”
Early architect drawings envisioned the parking lot being across the street where the campground is today, with a pedestrian tunnel under Marine Drive. Another rendition had Edwards Drive curving to go behind the campground. Today the boardwalk is smaller, and the 35-foot observation tower and the Orca Center are long gone, but Lighthouse Marine Park remains a must-see sight for visitors to Point Roberts and a cherished public space for local residents.
Join the park’s birthday celebrations at Lighthouse Park on Saturday, June 17.
Share your memories of Lighthouse Park (or memories from before it was a park) at the Point Roberts History Center on Gulf Road, open 11 a.m.–2 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on Saturdays through the summer.
Note: The Point Roberts Historical Society apologizes for omitting a credit line on last month’s squatters map which was made by Jim Julius and Victor Grimson. Map can be viewed at the History Center on Gulf Road.
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