Did You Know?

check back for a new “did you know” each Thursday!
September 22, 2022

Did you know the Discovery Park Master Plan gave us and protects the unique Park we enjoy today?

Daniel Urban Kiley, landscape architect and writer of the Discovery Park Master Plan. Friends of Discovery Park.

“The original “Fort Lawton Park Plan” was drafted in 1972 by Dan Urban Kiley. As a policy document, it was meant to be used as a guide for making decisions regarding immediate and long range physical development of the Park.

“In 1974 Dan Kiley submitted the “Revised Master Plan for Discovery Park (formerly Fort Lawton Park)”. This was a supplement to the original Fort Lawton Park Plan and incorporated revisions and additions to that earlier document. It was intended that all features and policies of the 1972 report continue to be a part of the Plan, except where revised or expanded by this newest report.  The Purpose of the Revised Master Plan was to “reevaluate certain plan-elements and recommendations of the Long Range Plan in light of policies and developments that have materialized since the Plan was proposed.

“The Discovery Park Development Plan” was created in 1986 by the Department of Parks and Recreation. It was based upon the 1972 Fort Lawton Park Plan and the 1974 Revised Master Plan for Discovery Park.

“As before, it was intended that all features and policies of the 1972 and 1974 Plans continue to be a part of the Plan for Discovery Park, except where revised by this latest effort.”

Today, all 3 Plans together comprise “The Master Plan” in that each successive document revises some, but not all, of the features and policies of the previous Plan(s).”

Throughout, all revisions the Primary Function and Central Purpose stayed the same and set the stage for this unique, passive, natural park setting …”an open space of quiet and tranquility…”.

Primary Function — Central Purpose
“The primary role of this park in the life of the city is dictated by its incomparable site. That role should be to provide an open space of quiet and tranquility for the citizens of this city—a sanctuary where they might escape the turmoil of the city and enjoy the rejuvenation which quiet and solitude and an intimate contact with nature can bring. It should be accepted that this park cannot satisfy all of the recreational needs of all of the citizens of Seattle. It can only complement the other elements in the park system. This park should not be asked to serve too many functions. It will best serve this city if it is permitted to serve one primary function and to serve that function well.”

Future Structures and Activities
“In the years to come there will be almost irresistible pressure to carve out areas of the park in order to provide sites for various civic structures or space for special activities. There will in the future be structures and activities without number for which, it will be contended, this park can provide an “ideal site” at no cost. The pressures for those sites may constitute the greatest single threat to the park. They must be resisted with resolution. If they are not, the park will be so fragmented that it can no longer serve its central purpose. Only those activities and only those structures should be accepted which are in harmony with the overall theme, character and objective of the park. There must be a deep commitment to the belief that there is no more valuable use of this site than as an open space.”

City Ordinances 114013 (1988) and 122750 (2008) allowed 7 military buildings (out of over 20) to remain standing in the parade ground area as an historic district with strict guidelines as empty, silent reminders of Fort Lawton. These ordinances also insure the park be: “…an open space of quiet and tranquility…”.

City Ordinances 122750, 11413 – look up at: City Council Bills/Ordinances – CityClerk | seattle.gov

Friends of Discovery Park Website: The Master Plan – Friends of Discovery Park (fodp.org)


Did you know about Friends of Discovery Park; and, their work to protect the Park for generations to come?

“Friends of Discovery Park Speaking before the Seattle City Council in 1974, US District Judge Donald S. Voorhees recommended that an organization such as the Friends of Central Park in New York be formed to support Seattle’s Discovery Park. Voorhees told Council members that it was important to monitor the actions proposed for the Park and to defend the principles and philosophy found in the 1974 Discovery Park Master Plan.

“Having led the Citizens for Fort Lawton Park, CFLP, in a successful effort to secure Fort Lawton from the US Government for a park in 1968, Voorhees’ experience and credibility led to the establishment of a supporting organization six years later.

“As a result of Voorhees’ address to the City Council, members of the CFLP met December 4, 1974, to form the Friends of Discovery Park. Charter Board Members elected at that meeting were: Bob Kildall, President, Gerry Lamphier, Frankie Piper, Mike Ruby, Robert Sotnik, Bernie Whitebear, and Thomas O. Wimmer.

“The purposes of the Friends of Discovery Park (Friends) are found in their by-laws: The purposes of this corporation (FRIENDS OF DISCOVERY PARK) shall be to defend the integrity of Discovery Park; to create and protect there an open space of quiet and tranquility, a sanctuary where the works of man are minimized, appearing to be affected primarily by the forces of nature, a place which emphasizes its natural environment, broad vista and unspoiled shorelines; and to promote the development of the park according to a master plan responsive to these goals.”

Today, Friends continues as an active organization and spends countless hours in stewardship of the park working on Seattle’s largest reforestation, restoration project that has become the Discovery Park we know today. The group continues to insure the park fulfills its Master Plan and that is remains a passive park with miles of trails, native plants and natural habitat for animals that live there. Over 270 birds reside inside the park. As we prepare to celebrate the Park’s 50th Friends continues its advocacy for “…an open space of quiet and tranquility…”; and, reforestation for the future 50!

Friends of Discovery Park – Friends of Discovery Park | Seattle, Washington 98199 (fodp.org)

september 15, 2022

Did you know how United Indians of All Tribes and The Daybreak Star came to be in Discovery Park?

 When news of the Fort being surplussed and given back to the City for free under the Fort Lawton Bill was announced, a group of Northwest Native Americans and their supporter’s peacefully occupied and protested at Fort Lawton for over a three week period (despite Fort Lawton MP’s doing harm and jailing the protesters). They were led by Colville Bernie Whitebear and Puyallup Bob Satiacum to reclaim a land base for the local urban Indians. U.S.-Indian treaties had promised reversion of surplused military lands back to their original Native American owners. In 1970, this protest garnered much media coverage and public pressure forced the Seattle government leaders to meet the United Indians of All Tribes Council at the bargaining table. After five months of negotiations, an agreement to “lease” acreage to the American Indians for 99 years with an option to renew was reached.

Bernie Whitebear speaking to Senator Henry M. Jackson during the dedication ceremony for the lease agreement held at Fort Lawton, November 14, 1971, which led to the foundation of Daybreak Star Cultural Center. Item 193058, Parks Planning, Construction and Maintenance Records (Record Series 5804-05), Seattle Municipal Archives.

“…By early 1971, the Bureau of Indian Affairs asked the City to include a 20-acre site for an Indian Cultural Center in the Park. After negotiations, a lease was drawn up and accepted by both parties in late 1974. It called for the Center to be “Indian in spirit, simple and honest in design, to enrich and be in harmony with the natural setting and uses of a city park at Fort Lawton.” As the underlying federal deed allowed only park and recreation uses, the City, through the federally-funded Seattle Model City program, provided funds for a building in downtown Seattle to house needed urban Indian social services…”

Outside the Daybreak Star Cultural Center

Bernie Whitebear led this endeavor and was active in many other Indigenous People’s causes until he died at age 62, in 2000. Today, the Daybreak Star runs under the executive leadership of Mike Tulee, Ph.D, Yakama tribal member. With its mission and vision: “Our mission is to provide educational, cultural and social services that reconnect Indigenous people in the Puget Sound region to their heritage by strengthening their sense of belonging and significance as Native people.” “To be a social service provider, community center, and cultural home for urban Indians.” The Sacred Circle Gallery is open to the public as well.

Research by Monica Wooton, United Indians of All Tribes website: About » United Indians; Magnolia: Memories & Milestones, Discovery Park: A People’s Park by Bob Kildall, Magnolia Historical Society, Book I.  

september 8, 2022

Did you know how Fort Lawton becoming a Park began in earnest?

Judge Donald S. Voorhees – Courtesy of Anne Voorhees.

“An opportunity to establish a park arose 47 years later when the Department of Defense (DOD) announced plans to surplus 85% of Fort Lawton. By 1964, it was clear that Fort Lawton did not fit the modern military defensive needs of the nation. Responding to the DOD decision, a citizens’ committee planning the major Forward Thrust bond issue in 1965 included $3 million as “seed” money for a park at Fort Lawton. In early 1968, Seattle voters approved this bond issue…”

“Later that same year, officials and citizens faced a seemingly impossible task to acquire the Fort for a park when the DOD announced plans to instead level 330 acres at the Fort to build an anti-ballistic missile base. The missiles would defend against inter-continental ballistic missiles, yet to be built. For security reasons, the rest of the Fort would likely be placed off-limits. The history section of the 1972 Fort Lawton (Discovery Park) Master Plan notes: “The threatened loss of the site at first evoked a cry of protest from only a relatively few individuals. In time, however, that faint cry of protest became a roar of outrage from the community.” 

“…Twenty-five civic and environmental groups, led by US District Judge Donald S. Voorhees, organized the “Citizens for Fort Lawton Park” (CFLP) in June 1968. They sought Washington State’s congressional delegation’s help to not only move the proposed ABM site, but to obtain excess Fort Lawton property for a City park….”

Did you know how Discovery Park Got Its Name?

Judge Donald S. Voorhees, original park activist, believed the name he proposed combined the history of Vancouver’s exploration of Puget Sound on the HMS Discovery, with the excitement of visitors when they discover the wonders of nature in the Park. When asked to make a choice between the meanings, Voorhees would choose the experience of “discovery” by citizens, particularly children, visiting the Park for the first time, over the historical connection with the HMS Discovery. “…because when our children walk this park, discoveries will unfold for them at every turn…History, beauty, nature and the future are melded here. “      

Magnolia: Memories & Milestones, Discovery Park: A People’s Park by Bob Kildall, Magnolia Historical Society Book I.  

September 1, 2022
“ Last Taps for Fort Lawton.” (photo named by Shirley Hitchings). Final military ceremony and gun salute held before the Fort is turned over to the City. Photo by Ken Baxter, November 1964. Courtesy of Virginia Baxter.

Did you know that the idea of Discovery Park was a longtime dream?

A park at the Fort Lawton site had been a civic dream ever since 1917 when City leaders, disappointed that less than a major fort had been built on the grounds, sought the return of the property for a City park… An opportunity to establish a park arose 47 years later when the Department of Defense (DOD) announced plans to surplus 85% of Fort Lawton… Twenty-five civic and environmental groups, led by US District Judge Donald S. Voorhees, organized the “Citizens for Fort Lawton Park” (CFLP) in June 1968.


Did you know it was a long, difficult road to get Discovery Park?

”…We didn’t have enough money to buy the land and no federal law allowed excess property to be given for parks and recreation. A golf initiative proposed an 18-hole course. And, Metro had its own plans for the Park’s beach…”


…Local environmental and civic groups contacted their national offices in Washington D.C. to lobby for a new federal law introduced by Jackson. In Congress, it was referred to as “the Fort Lawton Bill.” It was supported by Washington State’s entire congressional delegation. For the first time, cities would be able to obtain excess federal property for park and recreation uses for less than 50% of fair market value. To assure that Fort Lawton came free to Seattle, Jackson added to the law…

“. . . if the municipality [in this case it came through the Chamber of Commerce, technically] had given the property to the federal government it shall be returned without cost.” … 

“….Under this bill, 425.75 of the first acres for Discovery Park were granted to the City of Seattle…” 

Magnolia: Memories & Milestones, Discovery Park: A People’s Park by Bob Kildall, Magnolia Historical Society Book I.  


August 25, 2022

Did you know that Fort Lawton was the third largest point of embarkation and disembarkation during WWII and Korea?

“…In 1951, soldiers spent an average of seven days on the post while processing through to Korea. Again, the Fort offered things to do to keep minds distracted: dancing, bingo, variety quiz shows, talent shows, and community sing-alongs. The Hostess House, which could house 400, “continued to help wives and bawling kids on their way,” according to author David Chance. There were over 100 babies born at the Fort hospital each month, dependents of those in transit and those who worked at the post. Fort Lawton was also responsible for giving medical and technical support to the Seattle Port of Embarkation, Washington Military District, Auburn General Depot, and ROTC (Reserves Officers’ Training Corps) at the University of Washington…”

Troops boarding a ship in Seattle. Photos by Art French. MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, Seattle, #86.5.10558.1

Did you know how busy the fort was and that the Army reserves were added in the 50’s?

“In 1954, the system of sending troops to their destinations had changed. Troopships would enter the Sound at Port Townsend, and six non-commissioned officers and one officer would board the ships and begin the paperwork. Transportation was ready before the troops even arrived in Seattle. They headed for Fort Lawton on buses. After a few hours of inspections and paperwork, the soldiers were back on the buses and headed for Boeing Field or to the trains. This method of processing was nothing like the war years. And the numbers of those processed remained high—half a million in the three years between 1951 and 1954. At the time, Fort Lawton was led by a commanding officer who had the responsibility for the US Army Military District of Washington. The ROTC functions of all Washington State units fell under this command. Training for the ROTC then came to the Fort as well, and new facilities were built for that purpose. Other functions were added to the Fort’s authority during these years, having to do with missiles and radar. Army life was becoming increasingly complicated…”

Public viewing of Nike defense missile at Fort Lawton. MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, Seattle, #86.5.2118.1. 1955.
AUGUST 18, 2022

Did you know there were several times the idea of turning the Fort over for a city park occurred and were not acted on?

Early on: “…Twice, references to Fort Lawton as a park came up. In an article for the Chamber, James W. Clise described the acreage they had gathered for the Army: “The area acquired by the Government has exceptional natural advantages for park purposes, which undoubtedly will be made the most of by the Government.” Thomas Prosch paraphrased this perspective in the minutes for the Chamber: “The post site is a grand one, and in due time will be virtually a city park equal in attraction and beauty to anything of the kind in the United States.” Author David Chance sums up this Chamber sentiment by saying of it: “Had it all been a conspiracy to make a big park for Seattle to rival the Olmsted parks in the large cities. To believe so would be probably going too far . . . For the present, it was now evident that the Chamber’s idea of a military post was something of a scenic park with soldiers in it. At least someone must have pondered the fact that land for a large park in Seattle could not have been secured by ordinary purchase or condemnation…”

“…Constructing Quartermaster Captain W. W. Robinson, Jr., arrived in Seattle in July of 1896 to make preparations for construction of the new post. The quartermaster reported back to Washington, D.C.: “This ground will command either a comprehensive view of that portion of the Sound in this vicinity, or beautiful vistas thereof, through such ornamental trees as shall be allowed to stand on the ground, between the post site and the edge of the Bluff to the westward, and also a view to the north and northeast of Salmon Bay valley, Ballard, North Seattle, and the distant Cascade Range. It will afford views from some of the quarters, of the Olympic Mountains to the westward and the Cascades to the north and northeast.” Chance comments: “It was as though Robinson were designing a park…”

Later: “…Then to the surprise of the City and rather out of the blue, in 1938 the Army finally did offer the entire property of Fort Lawton to the City of Seattle as a park for the cost of one dollar. The offer was made through Congressman Warren G. Magnuson, who first served in the Washington State Legislature and then as a Democratic Washington State representative to the US Congress, completing five terms in the House of Representatives and five in the Senate. The members of the City Council, led by John Dore, a frugal mayor, declined the offer because of the Depression, as they were unsure whether they could bear the cost of maintenance…” Fort Lawton would soon begin a new mission; as author David Chance noted, “The next decade and a half was to be the post’s moment in history.”…

Magnolia: Making More Memories, “Fort Lawton Change: the Only Constant; Fort Lawton” by Mike Davis with Monica Wooton, p.144-171

Drawing of layout of Fort Lawton from 1898 to 1908. Historic American Buildings Survey, Fort Lawton Recording Project. 1981.

And, a – Did you know? Bonus:

Major General H. W. Lawton. Discovery Park Archives #0-7 and US Army.

Fort Lawton was named after Major General Henry Ware Lawton, who was commissioned a second lieutenant, July 28, 1867. • His first assignment was with the 41st Colored Infantry, and in 1871 he was transferred to the 4th Cavalry and served in the Indian Wars in the Southwest. • In 1886, he commanded a column sent in pursuit of Geronimo and received Geronimo’s surrender late in that year. • In September 1888, he was transferred to the Inspector General’s Department, and in 1898, as a Major General, he took command of the Second Division, First Corps, in Cuba. • In 1899, he was transferred to the Philippines, where he commanded the First Division, Eighth Army Corps. • He was killed in action on December 12, 1899.

August 11, 2022

Did you know about the beginning of the Fort’s existence?

Military corral showing soldiers resting with their equipment. Photo by Theodore E. Peiser. University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections Division, PH Collection 282, Theodore E. Peiser Collection, Seattle, Neg. #Peiser 10129. August 1900.

“With the departure of US troops from Cuba in the spring of 1902, and the Philippine Insurrection reaching a temporary halt, many troops began heading back to the United States, where billeting (troop housing) shortages plagued bases around the country. In the spring of 1902, Fort Lawton saw these changes: The 32nd Artillery was sent to Fort Liscum, Alaska, and the 106th Artillery to Skagway, Alaska. The 17th and 8th Infantries and the Signal Corps replaced these units. While the field guns remained, the Fort, garrisoned by infantry and signal corps, was no longer a part of the coastal artillery a few short months after it obtained that status. The Chamber kept up its complaints to the Army, stating that what they had been promised—a garrison for an artillery post—was not forthcoming. It seems the Chamber’s concerns did not matter…”

“Late in 1901 and into early 1902, the Department of the Columbia was still unsure about and uncommitted to whether Fort Lawton should be an infantry or artillery post. In early 1904, Fort Lawton underwent a second building phase when the number of officers’ quarters more than doubled to a total of 16,56 and the enlisted barracks doubled to handle four companies.

African American soldiers (Buffalo Soldiers) at Fort Lawton prior to being sent to China during the Boxer Rebellion. University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections Division, Coll. 28 Theodore E. Peiser, Seattle, Neg. #Peiser 10095. Circa 1909

“1900-1910: The Fort in Flux Fifty acres of woods had to be cleared and burned, and then the first seven buildings at Fort Lawton were begun. Nichols & Crothers held the contract to construct the seven buildings, which used Chuckanut stone from Bellingham for the foundation. When completed, the buildings were finished inside with hardwood, plumbed for gas, and wired for electricity. The outsides consisted of wood frames with posts of brick or stone masonry, which was not standard and is unexplained. Plans provided by the Army Quartermaster General’s Office were followed for the most part in the design and building of this fort. It was based on Fort Vancouver (in Vancouver, Washington). Many old traditional Army features were followed, and since Fort Lawton was built at the end of the 19th century, numerous changes and modernizations were not put into use. If this Fort had been built in the 20th century, it would have been vastly different—likely more in the style of Fort Lewis, Washington. This post in Magnolia retained a more spacious and spread-out feel, without the impending trend of the architecture of the next century’s forts, which supported (and not in a positive way) the hierarchy between the enlisted men and officers.48 The fort in Magnolia was still without a name. The custom from the Civil War years had seen posts named after renowned US Army generals. Six weeks after the death of Major Henry Ware Lawton, the new fort at Magnolia Bluff was named after him. Lawton was serving valiantly under General Otis during the Philippine Insurrection when he was shot to death directing the crossing of a river at San Mateo, Philippines, while under fire. The first soldiers to occupy Fort Lawton on July 26, 1901, were with the 32nd Coast Artillery….”

“…The addition of a colonel and a band facility, implied that Fort Lawton was now a regiment of infantry headquarters. Interestingly, Fort Lawton, seemingly a post without much activity or obvious definition and purpose, missed being recommended in the 1907 investigation that designated some posts as unnecessary. New corrals housed 500 horses and mules (in another unconventional use of a fort, the animals were collected there for shipment to the Philippines), all upwind of the officers’ quarters. The horses were soon moved away from that area. The presence and number of animals help explain some of the early Fort Lawton photos that make the post look like a cavalry.”

Magnolia: Making More Memories, “Fort Lawton Change: the Only Constant; Fort Lawton” by Mike Davis with Monica Wooton, p.144-171

Cavalry maneuvering on Oregon Avenue in the Fort. Barracks buildings are in the background. At one time the Fort was equipped to care for up to 768 horses. Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, Discovery Park Photographic Archive, Photographer’s File #12710, Source File #7- 164. Courtesy of MOHAI, Seattle. Circa 1914.
JULY 28, 2022

Did you know about Salmon Bay Charlie the last Native American to live in the area?

Salmon Bay Charlie collected berries and seafood to trade with his white neighbors. Nordic Heritage Museum. Courtesy of Neil Thompson. Discovery Park Archive. Circa early 1900s

“Although there are references in some sources to other traditional Indian families on Magnolia, the last well-documented traditional Indians to reside here were Salmon Bay Charlie (Hwehlchtid or Hwelch’teed) and his wife Madellene (Chilohleeet’sa). They lived on a spit of land jutting out into Salmon Bay down the hill from what is now Discovery Park…According to some sources, traditional indigenous life on Magnolia came to an end in 1916 when the Army Corps of Engineers completed the ship canal and dredged Salmon Bay. Madellene had died in her home shortly after the work began. Charlie was taken away to one of the reservations by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Some sources, however, suggest that Charlie was taken away at least 20 years earlier. We do know for certain that the Army Corps of Engineers obliterated the promontory on which Charlie’s house was located and displaced any remaining Indians on the Ballard side of the Bay.”

Magnolia: Memories & Milestones, Indians on Magnolia Before 1913, Nancy Griffen Worssam, p.18-26″

JULY 21, 2022

Did you know these facts about early Fort Lawton which eventually became Discovery Park?

• Quartermaster Captain W. W. Robinson was sent here to design and build Fort Lawton. He and Ambrose Kiehl designed the place.
• At Fort Lawton, they used to fire a small cannon during the flag ceremony.
• The buildings were originally painted rust-red and brown.
• There are about 12 different spindle styles on the porch railings of the buildings.
• Original street lamps (1900) were kerosene lamps placed on wooden posts.
• The Kiehls’ batten shack was moved and became one of the Non-Commissioned Officers’ quarters around World War II in the (present day) Montana Circle area; it was torn down by the Army.
• A woodpile went almost all the way around the Fort in the early 1900’s. Wood had been collected from the clearing of the parade grounds

New barracks – rust-red. The timber from the Fort was never sold or milled but used as fuel at the Fort. UW Special Collections #Kiehl 6×8-10.
JULY 14, 2022

Did you know Discovery Park was old growth forest many years ago?

A decision had been made as part of a plan for national defense to construct a military post on Magnolia Bluff near Seattle. The Quartermaster General of the US Army sent Captain W. W. Robinson, Jr. to Seattle to serve as the constructing quartermaster to work with the City in assembling the land and start the process of constructing the post. One of his first moves was to employ civil engineer H. Ambrose Kiehl to survey the land, supervise clearing and grading, lay out road and building locations and, with Robinson, supervise construction of the new post later to be named Fort Lawton.

Magnolia: Memories & Milestones, Fort Lawton: Constant Place for Change, Magnolia Historical Society Book I

H. Ambrose Kiehl, civil engineer, beginning his survey of Fort Lawton in 1900. UW Special Collections #Kiehl 3×3-294.
JULY 7, 2022

Did you know how Fort Lawton was established and the land was obtained to build it?

This selection from David Chance’s notes in “The Evolution of Intent at Fort Lawton” brings to light some of the deal-making that went on to get enough land to give to the Army for Fort Lawton, which was one of the stipulations made by the Army to allow a fort to be built. The most common misconception is that claims to the land were given up for $1. Not so. Circa 1897, land trades emerge here as the most common way acreage was gained to build the Fort. The Seattle Chamber of Commerce, comprised of top economic leaders of the day in the City of Seattle, was deeply involved for obvious reasons. There was an investigation to uncover any conflict of interest or wrongdoing, but none could be found. It must be remembered, however, that the Chamber was well aware of the money a fort would bring to the area. “A finance committee had been selected by the Chamber to collect money with each of its members assigned a specific ward of the city. These collectors were M. A. Gottstein, J. B. Goldsmith, J. H. Calvert, C. M. Clarke, W. M. Calhoun, J. F. McElroy, P. F. Kelley, I. A. Nadeau, and Edmond S. Meany . . .”

Now that the Army had clearly chosen Magnolia Bluff for a post, it was up to the Chamber of Commerce to obtain the land. The process was extremely complicated, and not all of the arrangements can be traced. The site was owned by at least 13 landowners, of whom John Sullivan was the largest with 160 acres. The ‘Army Post Committee’ of the Chamber was ultimately to raise about $25,000 in the form of cash or land donations at other places, and with these it purchased 640 acres of State school lands just to the north of Ballard. It then offered parcels of this former school land in exchange for those held on the site of the new post. It would appear that an acre was given for each acre obtained on Magnolia Bluffs…”

Magnolia: Making More Memories, “Change, the Only Constant: Fort Lawton” by Mike Davis with Monica Wooton, p.144 – 171

Seattle Chamber of Commerce map of the property just to the north of Ballard that was exchanged in 1897 for land donated on Magnolia to create Fort Lawton. July 1984. From The Evolution of Intent at Fort Lawton, by David Chance.
JUNE 29, 2022

Do you know what a lighthouse “characteristic” is and what the West Point Lighthouse’s is?

“…Mariners using lighthouses to navigate safely across water and stay on course had to know the patterns of blinks and color codes used by each lighthouse. Seamen distinguish one light from another by checking its “characteristic” (the color and timing of the beacon light) in a document called the Light List. The West Point Light is #16800 on the list. Light numbers are reassigned as new aids to navigation are brought into the system, so it is important to use an updated Light List. The West Point Light is designed to blink one flash white, then one flash red. (There is a red panel of glass after every clear one in the rotating glass cylinder of the light.) West Point’s characteristic is noted on its National Register of Historic Places application: “White, 0.6 second flash . . . Eclipse: 4.4 seconds, white. Red: 0.6 second flash, Eclipse: 4.4 seconds, red.” The light flashes white and then red for the same length of time. The eclipse is the amount of time when no light is shining, and the period is the amount of time a light flashes. West Point’s period would be 0.6 seconds….”

Magnolia, Making More Memories; One Flash White, One Flash Red; Magnolia’s Guiding Light, Monica Wooton, p.271-291

Photo By Ken Baxter, Circa 1960. Courtesy of Virginia Baxter.


JUNE 15, 2022

Did you know the West Point Lighthouse, a part of Discovery Park and a Historical Landmark, was established in 1881?

Fourth-order Fresnel lens at West Point Lighthouse.
(Photo by John Cox. Circa 1980)

“The West Point Lighthouse became a vision of the United States Lighthouse Board in 1872, when a light was first proposed. After a delay, in 1879 the Board finally said of the proposal: “It is highly essential that this magnificent sheet of water, which has not its equal in the world, should be so marked by fog signals as to render its navigation from Cape Flattery to Olympia possible at all times without danger to life and property.” Opposing tide currents, shallow waters, and a very narrow navigable strip of bottomland added to the dangers for ships and boats. It was not until 1881 that Congress saw its way to appropriate $10,000 (reduced from an original announcement that “an appropriation of $25,000 is required for a light”) to build the West Point Lighthouse with a 10-inch fog whistle. On November 15, 1881, the Light Station was built on 5.9 acres of land deeded from a Mr. John Leary. For that $10,000 the shipping industry, in this case, got a small stucco and brick masonry tower (10 feet by 10 feet) that rises 27 feet above mean high water, or 23 feet from the ground, and a fog bell on one of King County’s most pivotal water junctures…

“West Point Lighthouse is said to be King County’s first manned lighthouse, implying the keepers were living on the grounds. It is further implied that there were two residences in 1881, as there were two keepers. Research shows, however, that the Lighthouse and only one residence were there in 1881. A barn was added in 1883. And in 1886, the second lighthouse keeper’s dwelling was built. The “star” in the building is a Fresnel lens, a revolving light with 12 bull’s-eyes that was manufactured in France. Augustine Fresnel perfected this lens in 1822 at 34 years of age. He died in 1827 at age 39, having reset the standard for illumination in a lighthouse. The West Point lens’ statistics include the following: size: fourth-order lens; lamp volts: 120; candlepower: 16,000 white, 7,000 red; watts: 500. A first-order lens is the highest in complexity (best light); the lowest power lens is the sixth order in rank. Now automated the Fresnel lens is not used.”

Magnolia, Making More Memories; One Flash White, One Flash Red; Magnolia’s Guiding Light, Monica Wooton, p.271-291

The founding members of the Seattle Mountaineers on their first outing, which was to the West Point Lighthouse. The group took the trolley to Fort Lawton, hiked the trail to the West Point beach, cooked lunch, and walked back to the City along the beach at low tide. Photographer Asahel Curtis was one of the members. Here the Fresnel lens is covered to protect it.
(Photo by Asahel Curtis. Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, Discovery Park Photographic Archive, Park File #D-35. Courtesy of Seattle Mountaineers. Feb. 17, 1907.)





JUNE 4, 2022

Did you know that the West Point Beach at Discovery Park had Native Americans living on it 4,000 years ago?

“…Over 4,000 years ago, humans began to inhabit this idyllic location below the cliffs. The beach at that time was U-shaped. A sand spit on the sea side provided protection from wind and wave. There was a small bay between the spit and the cliff that rose on the land side. On the inner curve of the bay a camp was established by early inhabitants. The beach provided basalt cobblestones from which to make cutting tools, hearths, and ovens. Mussels covered the beach and were a ready and easy source of food. Elk, deer, and small mammals roamed the uplands above the cliff, providing both food and bone for making tools. Fish could be caught only steps away, at the water’s edge. Seasonally, berries were plentiful. Trees and grasses supplied material for fire and shelter. Freshwater streams flowed from the uplands to the sea. All that humans needed for life was there….”

Left to right: Pendant, arrowhead, and gaming piece from the early Native Americans who visited West Point. Found in Archeological Dig at West Point. Courtesy of King County. Collection held in trust at the Burke Museum, Seattle. Circa 1992.
April 11, 2022

Discovery Park “…an open space of quiet and tranquility…” is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. On October 1, 2022 a formal celebration will be held to honor this amazing land and landscape with a day of interesting, fun activities highlighted by the opening ceremony. Throughout the year special 50th Anniversary events and programming in education, history and stewardship will be happening at the Park and Daybreak Star. A new documentary highlighting the story of the evolution of Discovery Park will be premiered. Mark your calendars now (and often). The website calendar will be updated regularly, new “Did you know?” fun facts will be posted and interesting blogs will be written. We invite you to donate, volunteer, and attend!

Associated Recreation Council (ARC), City of Seattle Parks and Recreation, Discovery Park Advisory Council, Friends of Discovery Park, League of Women Voters, Magnolia Historical Society, Seattle Audubon, and United Indians of All Tribes are partnering together (with many other sponsoring organizations and individuals) to bring this event to life. And, you are cordially invited to participate.

Happy birthday to us, Seattle!