Lighthouse 125th Birthday Party!!!!!

Keepers of the Patos Light Celebrate History and Rebirth Another tour on Aug. 15 is scheduled

— by Margie Doyle —

Edrie Vinson, right, and her granddaughter Terri, serve the anniversary cake on Patos Island on Aug. 5, 2018

Quietly, steadily, while many of us research and question civic matters such as master plans, crimes and changes in leadership, Edrie Vinson of Orcas Island, President of the non-profit organization “Keepers of the Patos Light,” has worked  over the last 10 years to restore the Patos Island Lighthouse on the northernmost island of the San Juans archipelago and to honor its history.

On Sunday, August 3, two boatloads sailed from Brandt’s Landing to the island to celebrate the 10th year of the Keepers of the Patos Light “rebirth” of the lighthouse, and the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Light station to warn mariners in the fogs, mists and storms of the Salish Sea.

Ginny Keith of Lopez, plays the flute in the restored lighthouse

The group, complete with the infant great-great granddaughter of Helene Glidden, author of the ever-popular  memoir/novel, A Light on the Island, traveled by the short path or the long rustic trail from the boat landing to the Lighthouse. There Edrie and her granddaughter and fellow historian Terri Vinson served a cake donated by the Island Market to some 52 guests.

Pure, calming flute music played by Ginny Keith emanated from within the lighthouse where a photographic exhibit, coordinated with Victoria Atkins, Edrie and Terri, and designed by Jill Berger of Friday Harbor, shows the history of the beacon of light in NW seas.

The current lighthouse was fully automated in 1974 and was in a state of disrepair in 2008 when Linda Hudson of Lopez Island established Keepers of the Patos Light. Also beginning in 2008, the lighthouse has been restored by the Keepers of the Patos Light in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Edrie Vinson now serves as the Keepers’ President.

Patos Island is part of the San Juan National Historic Site, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Marcia deChadenèdes Manager of the San Juan Islands National Monument, told the visitors “The BLM is you” when she pointed out some of the accomplishments the KOPL have accomplished, and invited Edrie to list more:

  • a $10,000 county grant for operations that allow the Keepers to develop the nonporift organization and to bring visitors to the island
  • inclusion of the website on the Washington Rural Heritage site with funds from the Washington State Library. Those funds also enabled Terri Vinson to collect photographs from the National Library of Congress in Washington DC that show the the Patos Light Station and Light House from 1893 to 1933, part of the current exhibit at the Lighthouse
  • completion of a Memo of Understanding (MOU) with the Orcas Island Historical Museum to partner for photos and collections
  • completion of aMOU with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to operate as docents at the light house and to organize work parties, as they’ve been doing for the last 10 years.

The Light on the Island, re-published 2018

The island, its lighthouse, and one of its better-known keepers, Edward Durgan, were immortalized in a 1951 book,The Light on the Island, written by Durgan’s daughter, Helene Durgan Glidden (b. 1900).The book was republished in 2018 with the original artwork on the dust jacket. It includes the chapter that was removed by the original publisher as too risque. The book and other materials are for sale at the lighthouse with proceeds benefiting KOPL (cash or check only please).

To participate in the next tour/celebration on Wednesday, August 15, contact Edrie Vinson at 360-376-4067 ($50 donation).

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A big thank you to Margie Doyle of Orcas News and Views for this article

Super Docent Report….

All our lighthouse docents are super-duper of course, but here is a detailed report for one weekend in June:

Ben Greene, Christina (Tina) Wienhold Greene and Nancy McCoy served as
docents this past weekend. We had a terrific time. The ride over was quite
rough with large waves going in all directions. Very exciting! Bethany,
our State Park Ranger/skipper did a great job operating the boat.

Weather was “variable”. Strong winds, rain, bright sun, squalls with
sleet…..and a beautiful sunset Sunday night.

New docents Ben & Tina are natural “Keepers”-always busy sweeping,
removing moss, grass, and weeds from the sidewalks, cleaning campsites,
washing windows. Tina found a large onion sack stuffed with old plastic
along the waterline by the light. I had a workout one late afternoon
pruning the loop trail of salal, bracken fern 6′ tall and thimble berry.
We all got lots of sun. Being early in the season and graduation weekend
we did not have a lot of lighthouse visitors.

Some of these observations may be more important to the BLM or to KOPL.
Please pick and choose what is appropriate for you.

~The 2 fire extinguishers were missing. We assume they are being serviced.
~The foundation vent screening below the reference library, both hardware
& window screening are ripped and open, allowing rodents & bugs entry.(No
more than 12″ X 12″)
~2-3 coat hooks would be nice in the docent area or under the stairs. (We
thought possibly in the “munitions” cupboard or the round one under the
stairs, but perhaps they might be forgotten. As it is a historic building,
salvaged coat hooks with some patina could be used.)
~A bulletin board might be useful over the docent desk for temporary notes
or to hang some of the many clipboards. There are no pushpins currently in
the supplies.
~Perhaps a desk vertical file might be useful for the clipboards, so they
don’t take up so much desk surface.
~Vinegar and a squeegee would be great to wash windows. (We got a lot of
fly spots off the watch tower windows.)
~Could there be a mirror in the docent area or in a supply box? (Docents
should look presentable to visitors. I was shocked when I returned to
Eastsound and saw my windblown hair for the first time in days.)
~Could the lighthouse sell baseball caps with a lighthouse logo? Perhaps
have a few for docents to wear who forgot to bring a hat.
~We loved the reference library. It was wonderful. However, we wanted a NW
whale book showing how to identify them-tails, profiles, behavior
patterns, etc.

The highlight of our stay was that there were whales non-stop for hours
Sunday between Patos and Saturna lights. We counted 16 commercial
whaleboats and a police boat. According to the “Island Adventures” website
out of Anacortes, there were 2 humpbacks(one known as “Heather” or
“Killer” in Canada) and transients T75Bs and Cs. We saw them again Monday
below the grassy campsites.

Nancy McCoy

Light on the Island: The New Commemorative Edition!

The book that inspired the founding of the Keepers of the Patos Light! Helene Glidden’s wonderful account of her childhood spent on Patos Island is again back in print. A new commemorative edition of The Light on the Island has just been published by Mike McClosky of San Juan Publishing Company.

Working diligently with members of KOPL, Mike was able to revise his 50th anniversary edition of Light on the Island and publish a brand new edition to honor the 125th birthday of the Patos Lighthouse. This edition features a facsimile of the 1951 original cover (front and back) and includes many more photographs and maps, many newly discovered since the book was last published.

Last but certainly not least, this new edition features what we have been calling “The Missing Chapter”! Deemed “too risque”, to include in the book when it was published in 1950, now, 68 years later, the book has finally been published in the form that Helene Glidden intended it to be.

The new “old” back cover

The new “old” front cover: a charming illustration of the Durgan Family by artist, Cliff Roberts

An example of the newly discovered historical photographs included in the new edition

The cost of this new edition is $25.00, plus $2.50 postage for the first copy, and $1.00 for each additional copy sent at the same time.

Send orders to: KOPL, PO Box 1967, Eastsound, WA 98245


2018 Keepers Work Party Information and Schedule!

Volunteer crew arriving on Patos Island


Volunteer information From Coordinator, Sandy Evans:

We generally have work parties once a month. I have attached an overview of what is required.

Work parties are scheduled:

April Earth Day camp out/wake up the island work party: Wednesday, April 25th/Thursday April 26th (Earth day is on the 22st, which is a Sunday)

May 24th (Memorial Day is the 28th)

June 28th (I figure we should not be competing with the AHS Volunteer Vacation with this date)

July 26th (the 4th is on a Wednesday this year)

August 23rd (The birthday party is scheduled for August 5th)

September 20th (The docents are considering staying active into September)

To sign up for a work party, please email:

Work Party Volunteer Crew on State Parks Boat


Work Party Overview, Information. and Rules

We depart from the north end of Orcas Island via WS Parks launch.

We generally take 8 to 10 people because we have to leave room for tools on the boat.

Volunteers, you need to know the following: You must be a KOPL member to go – sign up at: or send an email to

You will need a PFD (personal flotation device) to ride in the WSParks boat.

Let me know if you don’t have one and I will bring you one.

What to wear:

Appropriate for the weather, sometimes rain gear is needed


If you have a backpack first aid kit, bring it.

Please bring a lunch, snacks and plenty of water to drink. Dress appropriately for the weather and for working. If it is rainy, bring rain gear. Long pants and long sleeves will help you avoid scratches (Patos does house some pretty wicked Nootka roses and of course, blackberries) and sturdy shoes will help with footing on rocks or stepping over logs (uneven footing in general).

We like to buddy up so that should we have any problems we have help.

Some things to observe:

Safety is out number one concern. Having fun is number two, and getting the work done is number three. We (mostly) are volunteers and can take a break as needed; because I am a nurse, I may ask if you are OK.

Take breaks and hydrate often.

Be ever mindful of your work area and who and what is around you and above you. Try to keep your distance from each other, especially if swinging a tool and just as a general rule.

Please carry your tools at your side (sharp edge away from you); we do not shoulder them, ever.

If we come upon someone or someone comes up to us (work party or visitor) wanting to get by, we try to stop working and our power tools, step aside and let them pass.

There are preferred ways of doing certain things (like removing limbs) so if someone asks you to do something differently, there is a good reason.

We will go over specific tool safety when we reach the island and we will all be watching over each other anyway.

We usually meet at the lighthouse at noon for lunch (and tours, if someone has a key).

We usually finish around 3:30 – 4 PM (depending on tides) and are back in time for those going to Anacortes can make the 5:15 ferry, the ferry for Lopez leaves at 6:45 (spring)-6:20 (summer)

Happy Sails! Sandy Evans

Intrepid volunteers near the lighthouse



Lighthouse Environmental Programs, License Plate Grants

Our beloved lighthouse received a $4000 grant in 2017 from Lighthouse Environmental Programs, a non-profit which funds lighthouse projects through sales of the Washington Lighthouse license plates.   Witht the money we received last year, we were able to fund our gorgeous new interpretive displays which we debuted at the Lighhouse Birthday Party last August. 

Here are some photos of our beautiful and professionally produced displays.

and here’s our Patos poster produced for us by LEP, Lighthouse Environmental Programs. Please consider making your next license plate a Washington Lighthouse one!!!

December Membership Campaign!

Each December we ask our members to renew their valued membership in Keepers of the Patos Light and this year is no different. Please consider renewing or joining for the first time…we couldn’t do all that we do without you!!!!


Keepers of the Patos Light Lighthouse Birthday Party, August 2017 (Photo: ChrisTeren Photography)


Dear Patos Lighthouse Supporters!
2017 was a busy year! KOPL continued to hold monthly work parties and open weekends with docents. And, with your generous donations and an award from the Lighthouse Environmental Program, KOPL was able to create and install museum quality displays describing the history of the lighthouse.
It was a great accomplishment to open the new museum, just in time for the lighthouse’s 124th birthday party. Over 70 lighthouse members attended the celebration, the biggest crowd ever. Memories were shared, cake was eaten and a photo was taken by a drone (courtesy of Chris Teren Photography of Orcas Island).
For 2018, in addition to the regular work parties and docent open weekends, there are exciting things in the works, just in time for the 125th birthday of Patos Light. We hope to complete the north room of the lighthouse museum with a natural history display as well as information on the Coastal Salish people who visited and lived on Patos. In addition, with a grant in hand and your donations, we are planning to restore the flagpole to its historical location.


Birthday Boy Patos Bill LaVergne

It’s that time of year when we ask you to renew your membership in Keepers of the Patos Light. Join for the first time or renew your commitment to help preserve and maintain the lighthouse that we all love so much.
Thank YOU so much for your support! We couldn’t do it all without you!
Hope you can visit Patos in the coming year!
Your KOPL Board
_ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Please join Keepers of the Patos Light by completing the information below and sending your donation to: KOPL BOX 334, Lopez Island, WA 98261 or making a donation on our web site via PayPal:
Membership Levels
⦁ Individual $ 25
⦁ Family $ 35
⦁ Patron $ 75
⦁ Keeper $ 100
⦁ Grand Keeper $ 500
⦁ Beacon $1000
Date: ______________
Name: ______________________________________________________
Address: ____________________________________________________
City: ____________________________ State: _____ Zip Code: ________
Email: __________________________ Phone: _____________________
Thank you! KOPL is a 501©(3) non-profit organization. IRS Tax Exempt ID 26-1297751

Flagpole Campaign…2018 is Our Year!

We are  starting a fundraising mailing campaign to finally get the flag and flagpole back up on Patos Island.

Below is a scan of our mail out card and information. If you would like us to send you a card or if you would like to make a donation, please email us at: and or drop us a line at KOPL, PO Box 334, Lopez Island WA 98261

Flag Fund4Flag Fund3

Our Biggest Birthday Party Yet!

Yesterday, August 27th, two boats each carrying 30 guests, left front Brandt’s Landing on Orcas Island heading to Patos Island for our 124th Birthday Party. Imagine our little lighthouse with 70+ visitors inside (some guests were already visiting Patos) and you can imagine it was quite a crowd!IMG_0275

Speeches were made, memories were shared and our own Patos Bill LaVergne (who was stationed on the island in the early 1950s) made a plea for the funds necessary to replace the flag and pole on Patos Island. We were even led in a lovely lighthouse song by two of our guests, everyone harmonizing along…what next, the Patos Island Lighthouse Choir?IMG_0274








Next we all went outside to share cakes and lemonade (thanks Denise and Dawn!) and to pose for a group “photo” set up by aerial photographer, Chris Teren….but this year our photo was taken by a drone!!! What would residents of 100 years ago made of that!?!






Now everyone had time to explore the new displays in the lighthouse. A LOT of hard work has gone into producing the displays and it sure shows. They are absolutely gorgeous! The team that put this together consisted of KOPL members, Board members, our fearless leader Victoria, historian, Edrie, and designer, Jill.  The results are out of this world. IMG_0279






All wonderful things must come to an end as as all the guests said goodbye to the lighthouse and walked down the trail back to the boats, we all agreed that this had been the best birthday celebration ever….but who knows what next year…the 125th….will bring????

Patos Bill does a little flag waving...

Patos Bill does a little flag waving…


Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

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