Friday, May 11, 2012

Smith Island

Two weeks ago, I had an opportunity to fly up to Friday Harbor.  On the way I saw plenty of familiar beaches and took an awful lot of crummy pictures.  But I thought it might be an opportunity to highlight a shoreline that few people (myself included) have ever visited, but for which I have some interesting historical views.

Smith Island lies west of Whidbey Island and is sometimes called Battleship Island due its appearance from land - five miles away.  It's a lighthouse station and now a portion of the San Juan Island National Wildlife Refuge.  It's the remaining subaerial portion of one of several large shoals in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Waves coming down the Strait from the west erode the bluff on the west side, redistributing the coarse sediment in a long tail to the east, ending in Minor Island.

The first two shots are mine from late April.  The next photo is a nice one taken in 2007 by Jeff Bash - the wave refraction patterns are worth checking out. The map is from Ralph Keuler's 1988 USGS Map (Misc Invest 1198E) - that's a 69cm/yr average erosion rate on the west side. 

The Lighthouse was reportedly 200' from the bluff when it was built in 1858 (Wikipedia).  In the 1960s, a new tower was constructed when folks realized the old lighthouse might not last.  By the end of the 1990s, it was gone.

1948 (National Archives and Wikipedia)
1970s (Wolf Bauer)

1980s (Gerald Thorsen)

No comments: