Dofflemyer Point lighthouse history revealed


You can't go inside it, and you can't even walk around outside it. It’s a historic lighthouse, #93001339, on the National Historic Register of Historic Places, but still active in the US Coastguard system. You can see it though, if you rent a kayak at Boston Harbor Marina and take a quick spin in the harbor. Or, just walk out on the Marina dock for a good long look. It’s the Dofflemyer Point Lighthouse and does its job quietly, year in and year out. It was one of the first lighthouses in the state to be automated.

A 1934 image of the Dofflemyer Point lighthouse from the U.S. Coast Guard paired with a South Puget Sound map, courtesy of the WA State Department of Fish and Wildlife Center.
A 1934 image of the Dofflemyer Point lighthouse from the U.S. Coast Guard paired with a South Puget Sound map, courtesy of the WA State Department of …

Grand dame of South Sound

“It is the ‘grand dame’ of South Sound!” exclaimed Diane Smith. Smith is the State Regent (president) of the Daughters of the American Colonists (DAC) and loves the lighthouse. Its current structure was built in 1934. Smith sponsored a project to fund an interpretive storyboard “illuminating” the lighthouse’s history.

Carole Holt, who lives nearby at Johnson Point, suggested the idea, as people often asked her about the old structure. She created the initial draft text and, with a well-documented family history in the area of over 100 years, was eminently qualified to do so! Holt worked with others on the project to its completion. Carole is a past national president of the organization and one of its most active members.

In partnership with Kate Gervai, owner/operator of the Boston Harbor Marina, Diane’s team researched the lighthouse's history with the help of Washington State Library and State Archive staff. Interestingly, the first Dofflemyer Point light was literally an ordinary little light. In 1887, a simple lantern hung at the end of a pole stuck in the sand. What a job it must have been to keep it lit!


The marina is installing, on its dock, a porcelain enamel panel storyboard designed by Diane’s team with graphic work and some research/editing by me, Shirley Stirling. The panel was fabricated by Olympia’s Winsor Fireform. Winsor Fireform just completed a project of 1,042 porcelain panels for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Locally, they are currently fabricating porcelain enamel Sound Transit art panels for Tacoma Parks.

DAC marks the spot!

This is the 5th marker in Thurston County sponsored by DAC and the 17th in the State of Washington. Though her group is an assembly of women whose ancestors performed patriotic and civil service prior to July 4, 1776, western states in this national organization celebrate local history, up to the year 1900.

Other DAC markers in Thurston County include:

1) a marker at the Bigelow House Museum, commemorating Susan B. Anthony’s visit as a dinner guest of the Bigelow family in 1871;

2) a marker at the Old State Capitol where (most) Washington Women won the vote in 1910, breaking the 14-year gridlock with an amendment to the state constitution;

3) a marker at the Tumwater Falls Historical Park, of the "Ancient Trading Path." Wildlife first forged the Cowlitz Trail first, followed by Native Americans, then by the Hudson's Bay Company fur traders, and finally by the travelers of the Oregon Trail who also founded a permanent Tumwater settlement in 1845; and

4) The Littlerock suffrage marker is described below. 

Diane Smith (far left) at the dedication of her project to honor the Thurston County women who voted in the 1870 election. Immediately left of the stone is Washington State Representative Laurie Dolan, 22nd legislative district, and immediately to the right of the stone is Secretary of State Kim Wyman.
Diane Smith (far left) at the dedication of her project to honor the Thurston County women who voted in the 1870 election. Immediately left of the …

Littlerock marker

During the coronavirus pandemic, as a part of her first state regent project, Diane’s team established and dedicated an engraved native boulder on the grounds of Littlerock Elementary School, carved by Reflections Custom Etching, owners, Macy and Shane Jewell. The boulder tells the story of 15 women whose votes were counted in a territory-wide election, a first in Washington's history. It was 150 years before (most) women’s right to vote was recognized nationally.   


The public is invited to the Dofflemyer Lighthouse dedication ceremony at the Boston Harbor Boston Harbor Marina, 2:30-3:00 PM on Saturday, September 30, 2023. The Boston Harbor Marina Dock is at 312 73rd Ave NE, Olympia, WA, 360-357-5670. Take your time for a meal from their Snack Shack, a drink at their tables on the dock, play on the beach, or rent a sea kayak, sit-on-top kayak, or paddle board.

Note: Though the parking at the marina is being doubled, space is still limited, so please carpool. 

Shirley Stirling, of Lacey, writes about good things people in Thurston County are doing. If you’d like to nominate someone to be profiled, contact her at or comment below.


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  • Mrwater49

    Is there any Native American history associated with the site? Seems like it would have been a good spot for a Squaxin settlement.

    Saturday, September 9, 2023 Report this

  • Jolcey

    Where did the lighthouse get its' name?

    Saturday, September 9, 2023 Report this

  • stirlsa

    ---The marina reports that the Native American history storyboard, not yet complete, is slated for installation next to the lighthouse storyboard. It will be the third storyboard. The first was a flora and fauna storyboard.

    ---The Dofflemyers of Dofflemyer Lighthouse were Isaac and Susan. They both passed away before 1900. They were granted 316 acres through the 1850 Donation Land Claim Act.

    ---A tiny peek into life back then: Mrs. D., according to an account by Mary Olney Brown, was prevented, in 1870, from attempting to vote with a group of suffragists in Olympia. Mary wrote, "Three of the number said they would go with me—Mrs. Patterson, Mrs. Wiley and Mrs. Dofflemyer; these, with Mr. Patterson, my husband and myself made our party. As we reached the courthouse where the election was held, Mr. Dofflemyer met us and took his wife home, she meekly submitting." History of Woman Suffrage, Volume 3, pg. 785 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony, Matilda J. Gage, Dec. 31, 1886 Publisher: Susan B. Anthony.

    Saturday, September 9, 2023 Report this

  • stirlsa

    Diane Smith invites you to attend the dedication to learn more about the Dofflemyer Lighthouse.

    Sunday, September 10, 2023 Report this

  • SueLean1

    Excellent! Glad to know about this. Thanks, Shirley!!

    Sunday, September 10, 2023 Report this

  • chezeve

    Nice job Shirley! Appreciate learning about the rich history of this beautiful area.

    Monday, September 11, 2023 Report this

  • Shirley - you've done it again! Bringing awareness of how our historical lineage societies bring awareness of history in our area. Congrats on a great article.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2023 Report this