Patos Lighthouse celebrates 130 years of accomplishments | Letter

Submitted by Denise Wilk, President of KOPL

You’ve heard the old line: “Will the last one out please turn off the lights?” With summer gone, the volunteers are gone from Patos Island Lighthouse – but the light is staying on! And this fall, the Keepers of the Patos Light (KOPL) are celebrating a milestone season made possible by support from our community.

I recently stepped into my role as President of KOPL. We are a small but mighty all-volunteer group that works to preserve the historic lighthouse on Patos Island, which many readers may have visited just northwest of Sucia Island. Above all, I want to share my deep gratitude with the people all across the islands who support our work – and the people from around the world who visit every year.

This year, KOPL docents worked to welcome 726 guests to the lighthouse. Those volunteers logged 1,093 hours of work, keeping the lighthouse open, clearing invasive plants, and removing trash and debris from the island. Other docents helped keep the rich history of Patos Island’s lighthouse alive by hosting ham radio events at the lighthouse, making radio contact with other lighthouses as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

This year we are celebrating not only a successful season on Patos Island – but some important anniversaries, as well. 2023 marks ten years since the establishment of the San Juan Islands National Monument by President Barack Obama, which opened up new opportunities for us to preserve the lighthouse. It marks 15 years since KOPL first started work to rescue Patos Island Lighthouse, which at the time had fallen into deep disrepair. And most importantly, it marks 130 years since the U.S. Lighthouse Service began operations on Patos Island in 1893.

I want to thank everyone who made this year possible, and invite readers to become part of the lighthouse’s ongoing story. Come visit us next summer on Patos, volunteer for a work party or as a docent, or help out some other way. With an amazing team of volunteers and the generous support of our community here in the San Juans and further afield, I know that we will keep Patos Island Lighthouse shining for the next 130 years.