Sunday, July 13, 2008

Alcatraz Lighthouse,San Francisco

Alcatraz Lighthouse
Location: Alcatraz Island, California
Directions: The lighthouse sits off shore on Alcatraz Island. The only way to get to the island is to by boat. There is a cruise service that offers a ferry service to the island and tours. Make sure you buy your tickets in advance as the tours regularly sell out weeks in advance.
Coordinates: 37°49′34.44″N 122°25′19.89″W / 37.8262333°N 122.4221917°W / 37.8262333; -122.4221917
Active: Yes
Deactivated:  No
Automated: 1963
Year first constructed: 1852
Year first lit: 1854 , 1909 (current tower)
Keepers Dwelling: The structure was a cottage, a two-story building with a 50 ft lighthouse in the center,1909 STORAGE BUILDING IN THE BASEMENT OF KEEPERS
Foundation: Masonry
Construction: Reinforced concrete
Tower shape: Natural color with black lantern with Octagonal/Pyramidal tower
Height: 84 ft
Focal Plain:  214 ft above sea level
Original lens: Third order Fresnel lens (removed)
Current lens: DCB-24 (1977)
Range: 22 nautical miles (41 km)
Fog Horn: Dismantled; was an electronic Klaxon but originally was a bell
Fog Horn Characteristic
Characteristic: white flash every 5 s
Admiralty: number G4082
ARLHS: number USA-003
USCG: number 6-4315

This was not the first lighthouse, my brother and I visited. It was the 3rd on our list. We had been to Pigeon point, a few times and then to point Bonita. Before this visit, we decided that we would make this a mission.Both for his daughter Jamie and ourselves. Of course we are not limited just to the 3 of us. We love to have others travel along. Collecting seashells, little furry seals, magnets and other junk along the way. Its not only about the lighthouses but the places we see as we visit the lighthouse area.

We headed into the city early Sat. Eddie from San Bruno, and I left my house from Castro Valley About 7:00 Am. I took the Bart to the Embarkedero and walked 1 mile to Pier 33. I took a few photographs on the way. I met Eddie, Jamie and Catherine around 8:45 AM. Barbara, Eddies wife had booked us on a tour of Angel Island and Alcatraz.

Of course she also loaded Eddie up with sandwiches and goodies for the trip. I brought the coffee, one flask of black (me) and one flask with milk (Eddie). We started our trip from pier 33, where interacted with a young couple with their kids.

The shot on the left was taken from the boat as we pulled in for a short visit on our way to Angel Island. It was taken with a Canon 5D and processed with Light room.
Sometimes you learn a little about your trips and you try to pass it on.

Everyone knows about the prison Alcatraz, known as the rock. It housed some very infamous people. Some people know that the military had a base on the island since the 1850's and also some know that the Island was occupied by the Indians in the 1960's. My mission is not about those but the lighthouse itself. So below is a little blurb on what I picked over the time I made my visit. As far as I know this is accurate. I suppose you could go to wikipedia and post a comment about any juicy information on the lighthouse.

Well I left out our visit to Angle Island, maybe I will come back and revise my post later on. But at the end of the day, we made a short trip to Pier 39, waited for a bus that came crowded and left us stranded, got a taxi for $3 a head, a cup of coffee, milk chocolate, and a strawberry frappucino in Starbucks.


Alcatraz Light house is the first lighthouse built in the State of California.Alcatraz island was named for the birds that inhabited the island - pelicans (alcatraces in Spanish).

1848, Gold is discovered at Sutters Mill

1849, The Coast Guard dispatched a group to determine the need for lighthouses along the West Coast. The Firm Gibbons and Kelly where awarded to build 7 lighthouses on the Californian Coast.

1851, The Oriole was sent around Cape Horn with supplies and a work Crew. 

1852, The foundation was laid in late in the year by a advance crew

1853 Jan 29, The Oriole arrived in San Francisco and the crew began work on the Alcatraz lighthouse. The structure was a cottage, a two-story building with a 50 ft lighthouse in the center. It was painted white with black trim and a back lantern room.

1853 Oct , a fixed third-order lens was installed.

1854 June 1, Alcatraz becomes the 1st beacon on the West coast.

1856 a fog bell was added. This was used when San Francisco's fog would render the lighthouse ineffective. Initially the bell had to be rung by hand, later on it was placed on an automated mechanical system. It also received a 4th order lens to help to show its was different from the lights of the city, because they where in close proximity.

1859, fortified military barracks is finished on the island, it served as a military prison and housed prisoners who celebrated the assassination of President Lincoln

1902 The 3rd order fixed lens is replaced by a revolving 4th order, The lens is sent to Cape Saint Elias Station in Alaska.

1906 the side of the lighthouse tower was cracked from the now famous earthquake.

1909 a new lighthouse was under construction. Its tower was approximately 84 ft . It was now powered by electricity and had fog sirens at both ends of Alcatraz island. The keeper's house was next to the of the warden and the doctor's. The Island now had a prison population, it was once occupied by the Military since the mid 1800's. The lighthouse keeper's had to co-ordinate with prison guards, when they needed to cross the prison compound to maintain the fog horn sirens.

1933 US Justice department acquired the island and changed the miltary prison to a federal penitentary

1963, the prison was closed and the Lighthouse was automated. The lens was removed and a reflecting lens installed.

1969 Nov, Indian occupy the island, the power to the lighthouse was cut off
1970 June 1st, A fire destroyed the Keepers house during this period.

1971 June 11, Indian occupation comes to an end with predawn raid.

1972 the Island became a National Park, today the lighthouse shines 2.5 joules ( about 200,000 candlelight) of light.

Alcatraz Lighthouse has shared its abode with worst and the best of mankind. Those murdered and those who saved lives. Those who treated life as dirt and those who defended life as it was a precious stone. It served for more than 150 years as a beacon to ships who entered San Francisco bay as light of hope.

Inventory of Historic lights
WikiPedia Alcatraz Lighthouse
Historic Lighthouse information
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