Westport is a Washington State town almost due west of its capital, Olympia. Westport is 70 miles from Olympia and sits at the north end of an 18-mile long beach that was once very popular. Saltwater fishing is still a major sport here with halibut and tuna regularly caught. A town of about 2,000, Westport has a popular marina and on this marina is an attraction really worth seeing. It’s a quality maritime museum in an imposing 3 story former 1930s Coast Guard Lifeboat Station. This museum is worth seeing during limited hours and has several parts, one of which is especially memorable, a Fresnel Lens in its own building.
The best thing to see here is this Fresnel lens. But this is not the only attraction. There are marine mammal skeletons on display and 8 rooms on 2 floors in the museum that focus on ecology, shellfish, beach erosion, ocean currents, shipwrecks, and cranberries. The day we were there, it was presided over by a transplanted Texan with a family to support. He was somewhat apologetic about his museum but had high praise for his son who has mastered what there is to see here and feels right at home. Westport has lost its ferry that used to take you across the mouth of Gray’s Harbor but has not lost its enthusiasm for you being here.
The other main attraction besides the museum and the mammal bones of whales in this complex of buildings is a lighthouse not too far away that used to be the tallest in Washington. 107 feet tall, it can be climbed but does not contain the original Fresnel lens that went on duty in 1898, The original lens served ships from 1891 until 1995 when it was replaced by an automatic device that is no longer in operation. The original lens that contained 24 bulls eyes and 1,176 prisms was removed and put into its own specially-designed building near this maritime museum. Removed in 1995 when it was worth 6 million dollars, this old lens that served Destruction Island for many years can now be seen from every vantage point. This is now considered to be the best Fresnel Lens display in the world. In excellent condition, this lens can be seen from all sides as it rotates and is one special attraction! Go and see it to be truly amazed.