A to Z West Coast TrailCape Flattery Lighthouse is located on the United States side of the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait. Began operation in 1857, the lighthouse tower is 20 metres tall and standing on a cliff the tower’s light stands 50 metres above the water. Cape Flattery Lighthouse was decommissioned in 2008 when a modern, battery and solar powered tower light was installed.

West Coast Trail Shipwrecks

 Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailAlaskan at 4k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSoquel at 5k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSarah at 7k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailBecherdass-Ambiadass at 8k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailMichigan at 12k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailUzbekistan at 13.8k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailVarsity at 17.6k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailValencia at 18.3k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailJanet Cowan at 19k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRobert Lewers at 20k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWoodside at 20.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailUncle John at 26.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailVesta at 29k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRaita at 33k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSkagit at 34.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSanta Rita at 37k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailDare at 39k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailLizzie Marshall at 47k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailPuritan at 48.5k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWempe Brothers at 49.4k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailDuchess of Argyle at 58k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailJohn Marshall at 62.3k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWilliam Tell at 64.2 Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRevere at 69k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailCyrus at 75k

West Coast Trail Campsites

Pachena Bay Campground West Coast Trail CampsitesMichigan Creek at 12k West Coast Trail CampsitesDarling River at 14k West Coast Trail CampsitesOrange Juice Creek at 15k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsocowis Creek at 16.5k West Coast Trail CampsitesKlanawa River at 23k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsusiat Falls at 25k West Coast Trail CampsitesCribs Creek at 42k West Coast Trail CampsitesCarmanah Creek at 46k West Coast Trail CampsitesBonilla Creek at 48k West Coast Trail CampsitesWalbran Creek at 53k West Coast Trail CampsitesCullite Cove at 58k West Coast Trail CampsitesCamper Bay at 62k Thrasher Cove - West Coast Trail CampsitesThrasher Cove at 70k Pacheedaht CampgroundCape

In 2017 the Cape Flattery Lighthouse was declared a national treasure and will be preserved. Located on Tatoosh Island, about 1.5km off the top corner of Washington State, it is perfectly located to guide ships into the bustling ports in Puget Sound, Vancouver and Victoria. These ports and San Francisco were connected by an almost continuous line of ships coming and going and spotting the Cape Flattery Lighthouse was a tremendous relief after days of blindly sailing up the coast. In George Nicholson’s amazing book, Vancouver Island’s West Coast 1762-1962, he sums up the tremendous importance of Cape Flattery in an 1859 quote by James Swan, author, lawyer and pioneer. “The wind continuing adverse, we were obliged to beat across the entrance of the strait (Juan de Fuca) for five days without gaining anything. But every night we were cheered by the light of Tatoosh Island, which shining like a bright star amid the primeval gloom, civilization and a proof that the “star of empire” had made its way westward till the waters of the Pacific had opposed a barrier to the tide of emigration. On the evening of the fifth day the wind changed and a light breeze springing up from the west we ran past the light and found ourselves in the strait.”

Construction of the Cape Flattery Lighthouse

The Unites States government decided to build the lighthouse at Cape Flattery in 1853 and construction began the following year. Shortly after construction began, it was repeatedly abandoned due to constant attacks by various First Nations tribes. The survey work conducted in the years prior to construction warned that the island was unsafe for white men. Attacks on the construction site usually came from northern tribes, Haidas and Nootkas, who arrived in huge war canoes to raid the Makahs, whose main village was near Cape Flattery. It took the construction of defensive fortifications and constant guards for the lighthouse to be completed and it wasn’t fully operational until December 1857. For much of 1858 the light was not operational due to lighthouse keepers quitting due frequent First Nations attacks. This photo of Cape Flattery Lighthouse was probably taken in the 1950's.

Cape Flattery Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island

The Original Cape Flattery Light

The original Cape Flattery light, positioned 165 feet above the ocean was visible for 30 kilometres on a clear day. Lard oil was the original fuel for the light and occasionally whale oil was used. In 1896 a kerosene fueled incandescent oil lamp was installed. Large boilers provided power for the lighthouse and they were fueled by burning wood. This was a constant challenge on the barren island and had to be constantly hauled in by boat and up a steep trail. Despite having no natural source of water on the island, the lighthouse was built with huge water tanks that were kept filled by the almost constant rainfall.

The Lighthouses Guarding Juan de Fuca Strait

Juan de Fuca Strait Lighthouses Map v3

Cape Flattery and the West Coast Trail

Though the Cape Flattery Lighthouse lays across the strait from the West Coast Trail it is almost always mentioned in shipwreck accounts that happened along Vancouver Island. The Cape Flattery Lighthouse built in 1857 and the Carmanah Point Lighthouse built in 1891 on Vancouver Island mark the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait. It is a testament to how treacherous Juan de Fuca Strait is by the fact that these two lighthouses proved insufficient to guide ships in safely. The Umatilla Lightship was added south of Cape Flattery in 1897 and the Swiftsure Lightship northwest of Cape Flattery in 1909. The Pachena Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1908 just 24 kilometers up the coast from Carmanah Point Lighthouse. Even with this concentration of lighthouses and lightships the brutal weather, changing currents and fog were still too overpowering to many ships and shipwrecks along the Graveyard of the Pacific continued for decades. The picture below is near the 32km marker of the West Coast Trail, just 12 kilometres west of the Carmanah Point Lighthouse which is at 44km. The view is looking across the mouth of Juan de Fuca Strait and the point of land in the distance is the United States and Cape Flattery is just beyond the tip.

Juan de Fuca Strait

Vancouver Island’s West Coast 1762-1962

Vancouver Island's West CoastVancouver Island’s West Coast 1762-1962 by George Nicholson is a fantastic history that gives you a window to a staggering array of events that occurred during those two eventful centuries. The amount of research that went into this book must have been colossal. Dozens and dozens of beautiful illustrations bring the people and places to life. Published in 1965 after decades of living in the area, Nicholson is able to write about events he was part of. Other events that happened before his time, he is able to describe in detail only possible by living in the area and knowing every feature of the land. His sources are from the written journals of the many explorers in the area. You know you are in for a wild ride from the first sentence of the book. “The history of British Columbia begins at Nootka”. Along with the wonderful history of the west coast along and beyond the West Coast Trail, two of the West Coast Trail shipwrecks are written in vivid detail about. The tragic story of the Valencia disaster and the Janet Cowan shipwreck are told in two separate chapters. Also, the Uzbekistan shipwreck that occurred at the outflow of Darling River is briefly mentioned. One of the photos in the book is of the Uzbekistan shortly after breaking up on the reef and is an amazing view of the wreck you tend to never see. All the other well-known West Coast Trail shipwrecks are mentioned in one chapter titled, “Forty Wrecks, One for Every Mile”.  Tsusiat Falls has a chapter devoted to it as well as the Carmanah Lighthouse and the Cape Flattery LighthouseVancouver Island’s West Coast 1762-1962 can be found online on Amazon and many other online book stores. Vancouver Island’s West Coast 1762-1962 continued here...

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Cape Flattery Lighthouse is located on the United States side of the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait. Began operation in 1857, the lighthouse tower is 20 metres tall and standing on a cliff the tower’s light stands 50 metres above the water. Cape Flattery ...
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The Pachena Point Lighthouse is an interesting bit of west coast history that you can visit. You can only see the grounds outside and not in the lighthouse itself. The view down from the 100 foot cliffs surrounding the lighthouse are beautiful and a vivid look at how ...
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Juan de Fuca Strait is the 154km long and 16km to 32km wide stretch of ocean that separates Vancouver Island from the northwest corner of Washington State. The international boundary between Canada and the United State runs down the centre of the strait. It was named ...
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Day 5 on the West Coast Trail is a stunning, very difficult and tremendously enjoyable day of hiking. Walbran Creek is gorgeous campsite to wake up to. Your tent will open up to a sweeping view of ...
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The campsite at Michigan Creek is the first or last campsite you will encounter on the West Coast Trail. First if you begin your hike at the Pachena trailhead(hiking south) and last if you begin in Port Renfrew(hiking north). The 12.1 kilometres(7.5 miles) between ...
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The Pachena Bay Campground is the closest campsite to the Pachena trailhead, not on the West Coast Trail, but near the trailhead.. Located on the far end of Pachena Beach, and about a 10 minute walk from the trailhead and the West Coast Trail registration building. ...
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Walbran Creek at 53k is home to possibly the best, and most unappreciated campsites on the West Coast Trail. The Walbran Creek campsite encapsulates so much that makes the West Coast Trail truly wonderful. The expansive beach which seems purpose built for ...
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The Pacheedaht Campground is a beautiful, and often bustling campground, quite close to the Gordon River trailhead for the West Coast Trail. Pacheedaht Beach is exactly what you would hope for in a Vancouver Island, west coast beach. It is a two kilometres long, ...
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