Monday, August 3, 2009

Battery Point

Battery Point Light
Location: Crescent City, California
Coordinates: WGS-84 (GPS) 41°44′38″N 124°12′12″W41.744°N 124.2032°W
Year first lit: 1856
Automated: 1953
Deactivated: 1965-1982
Foundation: Natural Emplaced
Tower shape: white cylindrical brick tower on square granite house
Height: 45 ft
Original lens: Fourth order Fresnel lens 1856
Characteristic: white flash every 30 s.

Content is copyright by Ocairdestudio 2009

Admiralty number: G4417.5
ARLHS number: USA-043
USCG number: 6-0555
Height of Focal Plane: 77
Existing Sound Signal Building? NO
Architectural Style: CAPE COD INTEGRAL
Open to the Public? YES

This was one of my longer expeditions, about 400 miles north. (Sometimes I think I am a little crazy, driving all this way north, not knowing if the weather is going to be good or if I am going to get a good view of the lighthouses). I printed out the directions to several of the lighthouses in the area, the primary lighthouse being Battery Point in Crescent City. I asked my brother Eddie and my wife if they wanted to come. But the response was not enthusiastic. More and more if I have discovered if I want complete this project, I must be willing to push myself and be willing to go it alone.

I filled my car at Safeway, got a 50 cent discount on my gas. Picked up a ham & cheese sandwich, jalapeƱo poppers and some wedge fries and a couple of bottles of wine. I was preparing to chill out. I also had my new Hp netbook with dsl connectivity with me. Plugged my iPod into my aux input of my radio and I was on my way. Playlist was set to random. Something of a bit of side note tried to plug crescent city into my gps and got nothing so I programmed it for eureka instead. Off I set on this long Journey, listening to some great music and not much of a care in the world.

When I left it was around 4:00 pm on a Friday, I had just discovered that everyone was going to a Party for my sons Birthday on Saturday, and I was heading into the mountains. I felt a little bad about skipping the party, but he is a grown man and we already went out as a family for dinner during the week to celebrate his birthday. The traffic was not too bad, a few backups in the usual areas. As soon as I got out of the bay area and past Petaluma, the scenery started to change. The trees and the mountains became more prominent and I began to feel my whole system relax. The lighthouse adventure is a great way to free myself from the confines of the city. It’s like a weight gets lifted from my soul.

After a long drive, a few munchies, coffee and 18000 songs, it’s around 10:00 pm when I arrive in Eureka. Dusk has past, the light faded and darkness fallen upon the city as I enter. Tungsten lights beam unto the road, and headlights of oncoming pickup truck blind me and I squint my eyes to make out what the fluorescent lights are saying. Not sure where I am or what accommodations I may find. I decided to take the first place I could find. To my right I see a sign for a motel, $65 for the night, well its just one night. I pull into the driveway and park, as I entered the foyer and I was greeted by a grumpy old lady, who waddled her way out from a dinghy office with a black and white TV with rabbit ears. I signed the register and gave her my credit card, she charged me $75, I assume the extra was for tax. I was tired so I said nothing. Got to my room and as I unloaded my bags and gear, a few bikers arrived and headed into the room next to mine. Soon I was to find that my walls are paper thin. Made for an interesting night? I got out my netbook, made a dsl connection and I was on the net. Made a few posts to twitter, and uploaded pictures to facebook. It was cool to stay connected to internet world way out here. Sat back and drank a few glasses of wine and ate portion of my ham sandwich. One of the pictures I posted was of me in this cheap motel with a glass of wine in my hand, a self portrait.

The following morning I headed off around 8:30 am. It was about another 60 miles north to Crescent city. The air was fresh as was the day. The sky was a little overcast and grey. I was hoping the fog would burn off by the time I’d get to Crescent City. But, I have learned take what you can get. Up here you are in Gods Country, and what is lacking from civilization is made up for by nature. I arrived around 10:00 am. It was at a small harbor in Crescent city that I first noticed Battery Point Lighthouse. It reminded me of East Brothers in San Pablo bay, The Island like isolation. I pulled in the harbor parking lot and pulled out my camera and headed around the harbor taking shots of the lighthouse and the surrounding area. I loved the rustic of the coffee shops and pier cafes, also the ruggedness of those going fishing. The morning was soft and fresh, you could feel the dew of the morning, and I needed warm clothes to remain comfortable. I did not spend a lot of time at the harbor as I wanted to get to lighthouse itself. But I should learn to go more slowly. It was wonderful and peaceful to watch the fishermen entering and leaving the small port. I was able to grab a few picturesque shots of the lighthouse with some boats. I finally made my way over to the lighthouse.

I made way out across the rocks to the lighthouse. The lighthouse has a paid guided tour for visitors, docents request that you don’t take pictures of the interior of the lighthouse, I am not sure why. But I honored their request. Many of the rooms are restored to their original condition and much of the antique furnishings have been donated by the locals. The people who volunteer are well versed in their history of the lighthouse and its relationship with the area, as you go from one room to another and finally to the tower itself where you have a fully functional lens, the sense of history is bestowed upon you. Each docent will tell you about the outhouse which has been washed away, and some say that a keeper or his assistant was washed away. In the upstairs bedroom, a chair sits, in which a ghost story is attached to. The walls are easily 2ft thick, and each of the bedrooms has their own fireplace. Today, the lighthouse is manned by volunteer keepers. These are people who volunteer and give up a month of their time to man the lighthouse. I spent some time making my way around the grounds; found that this lighthouse did not have a fog signal it was built away from the lighthouse. Also I had to leave early as the tide was coming in and I could be stuck on island. Some nice carvings near the entrance of the lighthouse.

Made my way back later in the evening to get a few more photographs.

California’s seashore holds some of the world’s most gorgeous coastline, from San Diego to Crescent City, but it is full with serrated rocks, sandy beaches and lofty cliffs. Seafaring sailors have relied on the beacons of light to steer them along the capricious shoreline of California, principally in places where rivers fill the ocean bottom with sand and where volcanic eruptions has raised basaltic rock to the surface. For ships navigating near Crescent City, there is much danger to be avoided, with the help of a bright sentinel.

Crescent City lies between the Columbia River and San Francisco Bay.Commercial Shipping was of prime importance for the economic survival of this region. It is host to a large flotilla of commercial vessels and fishing boats, this was due to the isolation caused by rugged mountains and rivers with no bridges. After several shipwrecks at the nearby St. George’s Reef and due to increasing traffic approaching the harbor, the Lighthouse Board commissioned the building of a beacon at Battery Point was one of the early lighthouses on the California coast.

In 1855, Congress appropriated $15,000 for the construction of a lighthouse on the tiny islet, which is connected to Battery Point by a narrow strip of land at low tide. It was not one of the original 8 west coast lighthouses included in the 1852 lighthouse contract by the United States Lighthouse Service, it's oil lamps was lit ten days before the last ot the original 8 became operational, Humboldt Harbor Lighthouse, being the last. The fourth-order Fresnel lens was lit in December 1856. Still Mariners complained that the harbor was too dangerous to maneuver at night., ships where forced to remain at sea to avoid the treacherous St. George Reef, six miles offshore. When SS Brother Jonathan lost 200 souls in the shipwreck at Northwest Seal Rock on July 30, 1865, the light board had all the impetus it needed to build another lighthouse. When planning the building of the St. George’s Reef Lighthouse in 1875, it was under consideration the closing of Battery Point to avoid redundancy. Until 1936, the U.S. Lighthouse Service was in charge of the light station. The lighthouse was automated in 1953, and a modern 375mm lens replaced the fourth-order Fresnel lens.

Mr. Van Court, was the first keeper, he was temporary until the official Light keeper arrived. Theophilis Magruder took his post on Christmas day, he was the first official lighthouse keeper. His issue of supplies, included two curtains for the lantern and twelve brass rings (to protect the lens from sunlight), lantern rouge and applicator brush (for polishing the lens), scissors (to trim the wick), a wolfs head brush (for cleaning), a hand-held lantern, and various other housekeeping and bookkeeping items usually issued to the first keeper at a new lighthouse. Magruder was hired at $1,000 per year, but the Lighthouse Board reduced his salary to $600 before the end of the year. With only a short residence under his belt, Magruder resigned. Wayne Piland was its last light keeper before automation in 1953.

In 1964, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the northern hemisphere with a moment magnitude of 9.2, causing a tsunami. The lighthouse survived, but the following year, the modern beacon that replaced the Fresnel lens in the tower was switched off, and a flashing light at the end of the nearby breakwater served as the harbor's navigational aid. In 1982, the light in the lighthouse tower was lit again, and the Battery Point Lighthouse was listed as a private aid to navigation.

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