Elevation: 6266 FT (1910 M)
The lighthouse stands upon rocks in the water in front of the historic East Shore property.
Bill Watson, manager and curator of the Thunderbird Lodge, said winter storms in January and February delivered significant damage to the beacon’s rock foundation.
“Due to wave and wind action during those storms ,the beacon’s foundation took exceptional damage,” Watson said.
The structure was among the first built on the George Whittell property, either in 1936 or 1937, Watson said.
According to Lighthouse Digest, the beacon and its sister lighthouse, which also sits in the waters adjacent to the property, are the two highest lighthouses in North America given Tahoe’s elevation at more than 6,225 feet above sea level.
Watson verified that fact and said the beacon used to hold a variety of colored lights and the Whittell’s alarm system.
Without repairs Watson said the beacon is in danger of crumbling into Lake Tahoe.
Based on preliminary estimates, Watson said, repairs to the battered 71 or 72 year-old beacon should cost around $40,000.
Half the amount — about $20,000 — has already been raised between three organizations, the Tahoe Yacht Club, the Lahontan Community Foundation and the National Parks Service.
“Those funds are just not enough for the repairs,” Watson said.
The remainder of the funds must be raised before the end of summer to ensure the work is completed before next winter, Watson said.
And, according to a July 7 press release from the lodge, if the work isn’t completed promptly the beacon could collapse into Lake Tahoe.
To raise the funds necessary to repair the beacon, the Thunderbird is dedicating money from a Winemaker’s Dinner tonight at the lodge.
The dinner, part of the Winemaker’s Dinner Series, begins with a silent auction and cocktails at 5:30 p.m. and a dinner catered by PlumpJack Restaurant at 7 p.m. at the lodge.
Individual dinner tickets are priced at $250 per person ($175 of which is a charitable donation) and reservations may be made by calling (775) 832-8754 or registering online at thunderbirdlodge.org.
The entire Winemaker’s Dinner series kicks off today and includes three more dinners, on Aug. 17, Sept. 21 and Oct. 19. Tickets for the entire series cost $900, of which $700 will serve as a charitable donation for the lodge.
On a related note, Watson said he would not comment on a $5 million fundraising effort by the lodge to remove a lien on the property held by Michigan-based Pulte Homes. The deadline to raise the money came earlier this month and Watson said he expects a press release within the next two weeks to explain how the fundraiser wrapped up.
Journal History Links References Thunderbird Lighthouse, Lighthouse, lighthouse pictures, Thunderbird, Tahoe lake, California, photographs, Journal, history, LighthousesOfCalifornia, Sean O’Cairde
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