Coastal Creations

Al Bailey's lighthouse replicas are on display at Two Rivers Heritage Museum

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Admirers of lighthouses can get their fill of the seaside beauties in one visit to Washougal.

A collection of lighthouse replicas are on display at the Two Rivers Heritage Museum through Sept. 30.

They were built by Al Bailey, of Battle Ground.

“I spent most of my life on the water, in commercial fishing,” he said. “It came natural, and I always liked lighthouses.

“I like the looks of them,” Bailey added. “It’s a hobby.”

Bailey and his wife Linda owned Vancouver Seafood for 35 years.

They have seen lighthouses in Washington, Oregon, California and Mexico.

As members of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, they have also participated in organized lighthouse tours in France and Nova Scotia. The nonprofit society aims to educate individuals about preserving lighthouses.

Bailey, 81, met with more than 50 members of the local Osprey Walking Group, yesterday morning to answer questions about his display at the museum.

“I enjoy people enjoying lighthouses,” he said.

Bailey’s favorite lighthouses include Sandy Point, Md., circa 1818; and the Southwest Ledge Light, built in 1877, in New Haven, Conn. He is currently building a replica of Tillamook Rock, located off the coast of Cannon Beach.

Bailey’s current creations include Peggy’s Cove, in Nova Scotia; Ven Sudde, in Tuna, Sweden; and Point Pinos, in Monterey Bay, Calif. He has also created a replica of the Desdemona Sands, a lighthouse that no longer exists in Astoria.

Most of Bailey’s lighthouses are made with cedar, purchased at a lumber store.

“Sometimes I use a little bit of a real thin plywood from hobby shops,” he said. “Mostly, I cut everything myself. I have a nice shop that I work in.”

Some of the replicas are attached to pieces of driftwood Bailey picked up on beaches in the Puget Sound.

“It takes some time to find just the one you want for a base,” he said. “Sometimes burls from maple trees — when you mount them — they look like rock.”

Bailey builds most of the smaller versions of lighthouses, based on photos he sees in books. The first replica he created in the mid 1980s is named “Justa Lighthouse.” It was based on a photo in a magazine.

Bailey has created more than 45 lighthouse replicas from around the world, and each takes an average of 60 hours to complete.

He enjoys making the lighthouses with railings.

“The more detail, the more fun it is,” Bailey said. “The more challenge, the better.”

A replica of a tugboat built by him is also on display in the museum, alongside nautical artifacts such as a life preserver and wooden ships created by others. Bailey built the tugboat when he and Linda lived in Port Townsend, Wash.

In addition to lighthouses, he is interested in salmon can labels. He has more than 3,000 labels, some of which are from the 1800’s in the Washington Territory.

Bailey, a native of Bingen, has lived in Battle Ground for 13 years.