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U.S. flag again flies over Turn Point Light Station on Stuart Island
The U.S. flag was raised for the first time in 36 years at Turn Point Light Station on Stuart Island, Aug. 12.
The ceremony was conducted by people dedicated to the restoration of Turn Point Light Station. Special guests included Dan and Gloria Alexander of Olympia. They were newlyweds when the Coast Guard assigned Dan to Turn Point in 1949.
Just as he did 60 years ago, Dan Alexander raised the flag and was accompanied by “To the Colors” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Shortly after, the J and K orca pods arrived and put on a show; there were several breaches, tail slaps and spyhops.
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 personnel departed the station.
Turn Point was managed by the state Parks Department until the Bureau of Land Management assumed management in 1991.
Over the years, the station was subject to deterioration from the elements and vandalism. A group led by Margaret and Michael Jonas of Orcas Island was formed in 2005 to preserve the history and structures at Turn Point. This is the Turn Point Lighthouse Preservation Society. Since forming, the society has hosted several work parties, several open houses, established a museum in the “Mule Barn,” and utilized volunteer docents to host the thousands of yearly visitors.
In 2008, the society was awarded $5,000 from the state's Lighthouse License Plate Fund to establish the museum, do research, and establish a mobile presentation program. In 2009, the society was awarded another $3,000 to finish rewiring the barn and to install low-power LED lighting in the museum.
The society also wanted to fly the U.S. flag over the site. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. A proposal was written and sent to BLM. 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 and the society ordered the pole. In the meantime, a mounting arrangement had to be designed to utilize a modern flag pole on a base built in 1914.
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.