Lighting the way at spit

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Members of the New Dungeness Light Station Association are working on three projects to honor the memory of Barry Dove, a founding member of the association and later the first - and to date, only - paid employee of the association.

Dove died of cancer in March of this year.

Volunteers recently completed the renovation of a small boat, a well-used skiff donated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The boat required extensive sanding, hole-patching and bench repair. When the work was completed it was renamed the "Barry Dove."

The skiff soon will serve as a marker designating the beginning of a new interpretive trail. Rick DeWitt, general manager of the association, says the new trail will be "about a mile long," with signs along the way displaying images of the light station through its history. The light station "is unique because it has had every one of the fog signals used in the U.S.," DeWitt said. He ticked them off: "a bell, a cannon, steam whistle, steam sirens and diaphones (the ah-oogha horns). These days it has a modern electronic sounder."

Other changes have also been made. When the station was built the light tower stood 100 feet tall; it's now just 63 feet tall. During World War II a watchtower was added to the station to help identify aircraft.

The signs are nearly completed, DeWitt said. In the next week or two a contingent of Boy Scouts will arrive to mark the trail, to clear obstructions and to perhaps dig the holes where the signs will be placed.

Next up: an underground sprinkler system dedicated to Dove. "Because he always wanted one," DeWitt said with a chuckle.

Remembering Barry Dove

DeWitt said Dove is so fondly remembered because "he was involved in every aspect of the association." Dove was one of the founding members of the group, which first met in 1994 after the U.S. Coast Guard announced it would soon close the light station. The volunteers wrote to the Coast Guard, noting a closure would quickly result in the destruction of the historical facility.

"They told the Coast Guard, 'We'll take care of it for you,'" DeWitt said. The Coast Guard agreed and the association has maintained it ever since.

In 2006, Dove was hired as general manager of the station, the position he held until his death.

Living history

Visitors can now spend a week at the light station, enjoying the solitude and the beauty, and operating the working light tower. That includes putting some elbow grease into various ongoing maintenance needs.

The New Dungeness Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in the Northwest and is one of the very few that provides families with an opportunity to be lighthouse keepers for a week. It's located at the tip of the 5-mile long Dungeness Spit in Sequim.

The lighthouse has been in continuous operation, providing navigational aid to ships in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, since its completion in 1857.

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