This 5-mile-long spit is a National Wildlife Refuge set aside for waterfowl and shorebirds. As many as 10,000 birds winter in the refuge, particularly the black brant. Sandpipers and other shorebirds scour its beaches for food. Shallow Dungeness Bay, south of the spit, harbors clams and oysters as well as the crab that takes its name. Captain George Vancouver visited the spit in 1792. Built in 1857, the Dungeness Lighthouse was the first light station in the inland waters of the region. Originally it was 100 feet tall but was later shortened due to structural issues.
The S’Klallam people lived along the Dungeness River for thousands of years. In 1872 they were forced by European-American homesteaders to live for one difficult year on the spit, then later forced to live on a reservation elsewhere. In 1868 the Tsimshiam people were camping on the spit after coming back from harvesting hops in the Puyallup Valley. The S’Klallam people attacked them, killing everyone except one woman who took refuge in the lighthouse. The lighthouse is now managed by the New Dungeness Lighthouse Association, who rents the building out to volunteer lightkeepers.
© 2012 Rob Casey/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.