It was the same Francisco Eliza’s ship that named the island “Patos”, meaning the isle of ducks. But it was an American explorer in the 1850s, Captain James Alden Jr. of the United States Coast Survey, whose ship, Active, gave a name to the cove that connects Patos and Little Patos islands, and the point where the new lighthouse would be built, Alden Point.
Prior to Congress appropriating funds to build a lighthouse, the 13th District of the Lighthouse Board reminded that “This is a very dangerous point with currents reaching fully 7 miles an hour.” So hazardous was this point that “Vessel-masters dislike to approach it in foggy weather, as they are unable to locate themselves because of the swirling, irregular currents.” As if a further more personal monetary matter needed to be on the table, they added that “much of this shipping enters at American ports and a large amount of American capital is interested in it.” Perhaps the mention of fog influenced the design of the building, for on March 3, 1891, Congress appropriated $12,000 for the construction of a fog signal station.
Designed by Carl Leick, the architect for the 13th Lighthouse District, and supervised by Thomas H. Handbury, Major in the Army Corps of Engineers, the main building was to be a fog signal building, and the light was a mere pole lamp, called a post light. There also would be a two-story duplex as a residence, a barn and a boat house. Foard and Stokes of Astoria got the bid for construction on December 27, 1892. They had their own lumber company in Portland, the Clatsop Mill Company, so they even supplied the lumber and shipped it all the way to Patos. At the same time the Patos Fog Signal Station was built, another just like it was being built on Stuart Island, called Turn Point. It, too, was a fog signal station. Saturna Island, British Columbia, just across from Patos had its lighthouse on East Point finished five years earlier.
The Scientific American had proclaimed the Daboll Trumpet was “an exceptionally fine instrument, producing a sound of great penetration and of sufficient power for ordinary practical use, but that to be kept going it requires skillful management and constant care.” Whether the keepers were unskilled is doubtful, but neither the fixed red sector pole light nor the Daboll Trumpet were sufficient to guard shipping on dark and foggy nights.
The lantern on the pole kept blowing out and was visible only a few feet in heavy fog, and the fog signal rarely worked. It took another 15 years, 1908, for the signal building to be converted to a lighthouse. Equipped with a 4th order Fresnel lens, it was powered by a 300-watt bulb, and floated on a bed of mercury. Using chains like clock-work, it turned on a regular basis and produced 40,000 candle power which could be seen for 7 miles. About the same time a new Imperial engine finally fixed the foghorn. With that, the lighthouse and fog signal were real aids to navigation.