How I Discovered Volunteering for the Burrows Island Light Station Restoration

Today we have something special to share with you, a guest post by Debby Lee Jagerman-Dungan of Debby’s Departures. It’s especially fun to share Debby’s post with you, as it shows how lighthouse fans inspire each other — Debby’s adventure with Burrows Island was sparked by the work of fellow lighthouse fans, writer Elinor DeWire and artist Janet Orso, of the Washington Lightkeepers Association. Although the WLA is unfortunately no longer active, the individual members continue to champion local lighthouses and the broader history of lighthouses, such as on Elinor’s blog,, and website, Janet’s artwork also graces the Washington State Lighthouse license plates. Thank you so much, Debby, for sharing your experience, your writing and your photos with us, and many thanks to Elinor for allowing us to share an image of the WLA map (below). If you’d like to see more of Janet’s artwork, please click here.

How I Discovered Volunteering for the Burrows Island Light Station Restoration

Souvenir-Lighthouse-Map (2)To make a long story short, I discovered Burrows Island Light Station on a map that has been pinned to my wall, the “Souvenir Lighthouse Map of the Washington Lightkeepers Association.” It is to my left as I am typing this on my computer, and has been there for years. It shows where the 25 or so lighthouses are located in the state of Washington. I live near Seattle, and the map lives on my wall because, well, I have a fascination with lighthouses. I can’t remember exactly when or where I got this map, but needless to say, because of my love for lighthouses, my husband and I were married at the Mukilteo Lighthouse last year. And now I plan on volunteering to help restore the Keepers’ Quarters and Boathouse at Burrows Island Light Station.

To make a short story long, prior to discovering Burrows Island, my interest with lighthouses began, well, I don’t remember exactly when or why. Part of me is intrigued with the thought of wondering what it would have been like to be a child growing up at a lighthouse, where your father is working hard to keep people safe at sea. I have wondered what it would have been like to have been a wife of a lightkeeper, perhaps living in an isolated island, such as Burrows Island. The career itself of being a lightkeeper also seems exotic to me, especially as a woman. Perhaps I was a lightkeeper in a previous life.

Burrows-Island-Lighthouse (2)And then there is the beauty of lighthouses themselves, the architecture, the flash patterns of the lights, the Fresnel lenses, the landscapes they sit on, and the views they see overlooking the lakes, bays, seas, straits, sounds, and oceans of the world.

And so my story goes on. With my love of lighthouses, last year my husband and I spent two weeks traveling from the southwest corner of Washington State, down the Oregon Coast, to visit 12 lighthouses. We’ve walked the 10 miles round trip to the lighthouse on Dungeness Spit, one of my favorite spots on this planet is the lighthouse at Discovery Park, and as I mentioned, we got married at Mukilteo Lighthouse.

Burrows-Island-Light-Station-Keepers-Quarters (2)But the point of this story is how I discovered Burrows Island. After visiting those 12 lighthouses along the Washington and Oregon Coast, I wanted to visit more, hoping to someday see all 25 lighthouses in the State of Washington. And well, since there are 17,200 lighthouses in the world, then I’m on a start to see them all!

I wanted a sort of “staycation” and glanced over at that map on my wall, looking for where there was a concentration of lighthouses in one area, and zoomed in on the San Juan Islands, knowing that this was also a great location for hiking and other opportunities for travel and exploration. Patos Island, Turn Point, Lime Kiln, Cattle Point, and while one wasn’t technically in the San Juans, it was near Anacortes, the gateway to the ferry system to get to the San Juans, Burrows Island Light Station!

I did some research on how to get to each of these five lighthouses, and to make a long story short, found a boat company that transported us to Burrows Island. We spent an hour on the island walking around the grounds of the Lighthouse, Boathouse, and Keepers’ Quarters, eating a picnic lunch on a bench overlooking the Rosario Strait, taking pictures, and enjoying the peace and quiet of being the only ones there at the time. My mind wandered, as it always does when visiting a lighthouse, about what it would have been like…

Burrows-Island-Keepers-Quarters-Lighthouse (2)I will say now a bit about myself. I am an avid traveler, and I write travel blogs under the name Debby’s Departures. So upon returning from our trip to the San Juan Islands, in anticipation of writing a few blogs about the lighthouses, I did some further research on all the lighthouses, including Burrows Island, and excitedly found Northwest Schooner Society’s website on the Burrows Island Light Station Restoration. After clicking around for a bit, it seemed that they were still in the midst of restoring the Keepers’ Quarters and Boathouse. I contacted them right away, and voilà, this summer I am volunteering to help restore buildings at a lighthouse!

So thanks to that map on my wall, this is the story of how I discovered volunteering for the Burrows Island Light Station Restoration.

But wait there’s more…I have also volunteered to write for this “Notes from the Lighthouse” blog, including of my experiences volunteering. Until the next post, here are a few links to the blogs that I have written about various lighthouses. Thank you for reading!

Lighthouses of the San Juan Islands: Burrows Island, Cattle Point, and Lime Kiln

Lighthouses of the San Juan Islands: Patos Island and Turn Point

Lighthouses of the Oregon Coast

Walking Ten Miles Round Trip to the New Dungeness Lighthouse

West Point Lighthouse at Discovery Park in Seattle (and almost a Wedding)

The Mukilteo Lighthouse near Seattle (and a Wedding)

Please note that the artwork for the “Souvenir Lighthouse Map of the Washington Lightkeepers Association” was created by Coupeville, Washington artist Janet Orso. Although the Washington Lightkeepers Association is no longer active, you can learn more about it and the history of lighthouses on former president Elinor DeWire’s blog, and website Elinor can also be found on Facebook as Elinor DeWire, Author.

Debby Lee Jagerman-Dungan, Debby’s Departures

I’m on Facebook as Debby’s Departures!