100 years of light

For 100 years, Lime Kiln Lighthouse has stood vigil along the rocky shores of West San Juan Island, welcoming more than 350,000 people annually from more than 40 countries. It contains a century of history and plays a vital role in the research of whales and other marine mammals.

“It’s a beacon of inspiration and hope,” Erin Corra, founder and executive director of Friends of Lime Kiln Society, said.

Lime Kiln turns 100 years old Sunday, June 30, and its birthday celebration begins at 3 p.m. The Friends of Lime Kiln has been planning the party for more than a year.

The beacon lit out across the strait for the first time on June 30, 1919. The state acquired the land and lighthouse from President Ronald Reagan’s administration for $1 in 1984, former Secretary of State of Washington Ralph Munro explained in a TVW.org video.

The surrounding property became a Washington state park, however, the U.S. Coast guard continues to maintain the light and fog signals as an active navigational tool.

“One of the great joys of my life was success in obtaining Lime Kiln for future generations,” Munro told the Journal.

The park and lighthouse are named after the liming quarry that was once located in the area.

“From 1860 until the 1920s — San Juan County was the principal lime-producing area in the state of Washington,” Boyd Pratt wrote in a 2014 HistoryLink article. “The San Juan Islands were ideal for the manufacture and transport of lime.”

Remains of that quarry can still be found on land managed by the San Juan County Land Bank to the north of the park.

To assist with the birthday event’s costs, F.O.L.K.S received funding from the county LTAC, a tax collected from hotel lodging that is then dispersed to island businesses and nonprofits for tourism promotion and support, according to Corra. Local businesses who have donated to the event, like Insurance and Kenmore Air.

The guest speakers include Linda Sturgis, United States Coast Guard captain; Mark Brown, Washington State Parks Commissioner; Chris Guidotti, state park San Juan area manager; Farhad Ghatan, Friday Harbor mayor; Elinor DeWire, author and board member of the U.S. Lighthouse Society; and Chad Kaiser, lighthouse expert and director of New Dungeness Lighthouse, near Sequim, Washington.

The musical lineup includes island favorites Dana Lyons and bluegrass band River Rye. James Taylor cover band, The Other, will also be performing, as well as rock and folk musician Mark Pedelty.

There will be a silent auction, and Corra said, anyone interested in donating should contact her soon.

There will be an edible lighthouse contest — submit a food creation shaped like the lighthouse and judges will award a prize for the best creation.

“The challenge will be the blinking light,” Corra wrote on Facebook.

More information about this contest, and to keep updated on all the celebrations events, visit the Facebook page m.facebook.com/events/2474026455952653.

Mike’s Café and Wine Bar’s Northwest Totem Cellars is also selling special Lime Kiln Centennial Cabernet Franc wine. Proceeds go toward the park. Information about preording a bottle can also be found on the facebook page.

The public will be invited to tour the lighthouse throughout the event, Corra said, and boaters are invited to listen to the music from their boats.

F.O.L.K.S. members expect that parking will be tricky. Corra encourages everyone to carpool or take a San Juan Transit shuttle. There will be a shuttle starting at 2:30 p.m. from the Friday Harbor High School and from Lavendara. The ride will cost $5.

The Whale Museum, Wolf Hollow, the San Juan County Land Bank and other organizations will have booths set up throughout the park so people may learn more about other organizations and how they partner with the park.

”The park is underutilized. We want to open up to more uses, more partnerships,” explained Corra. “This event is about the past, present and future of the park.”