Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Table Bluff

Located: The tower portion is now at the Woodley Island Marina in Eureka.
Coordinates WGS-84 (GPS) 40°41′45.02″N 124°16′26.16″W40.6958389°N 124.2739333°W
Year first lit: 1892
Automated: 1953
Deactivated: 1961
Construction: Wood
Tower shape: Square
Height: 35 ft
Original lens: Fourth order Fresnel lens
Current lens: (removed)
ARLHS number: USA-832
Operational? No
Markings/Pattern: White
Height of Focal Plane: 176 ft
Fresnel Lens Disposition: 4th Order Lens on display at Humbolt Maritime Museum
Fog Signal Type: Steam Whistle, Air Siren
Number of Stories: 2
Architectural Style: Victorian
U.S.C.G. District: 11

Directionss: From 101 Highway to 255 North in Eureka. Take the Samoa Bridge to Woodley Island/Marina. Follow Startare Drive to end of the island. The Tower is in the parking lot.

The Fresnal Lens is in The Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum at 77 Cookhouse Lane, near the Samoa Cookhouse in Samoa, For museum information, call (707) 444-9440.

It was getting late in the day, I plugged Table Bluff into my GPS and I was on my way back towards Eureka from Trinity Head. Just outside of the town of Klamath I came across a derelict house near the roadway. I pulled in and spent a little time taking some pictures of the derelict structure, its amazing how fast nature reclaims her domain once man has abandoned it.

Continuing on towards Eureka, I saw a herd of Elk grazing along the side of the highway. I stopped took a few pictures and a small video with my G9. Other motorists where pulling in for their moment of picture taking. For someone who lives in the suburbs such as me this was a wonderful experience. I pulled out unto the road happy that I saw these magnificent animals; they looked so beautiful and graceful with their antlers as they grazed alongside the road. I was no more than 6 ft from the nearest Elk.

I still had more than 40 miles to travel back to Eureka area and evening was quickly approaching. I was heading towards Samoa Island where a museum housed the Lens from Table Bluff Lighthouse. The excitement of this adventure was that I did not know where I was heading or what to expect when I arrived at my destination. This trip was not like my other excursions to lighthouses; I was in another part of the world and it was unfamiliar to me, the people I had met so far were ultra nice. The weather was okay and the roads pretty narrow, but smooth. Sometimes it reminded me of the roads in Ireland.

After a long scenic drive, a diversion or two and some misdirection’s by my GPS, I arrived at the Samoa Cookhouse. I saw the Museum on my left, but it was just closed. I met the curator as he was leaving. He was an elderly gentleman; I could see he was on his way to dinner with a young lady. He was willing to re-open the museum for, but I declined, I said I would drop by on Sunday, he replied it was closed. He went on to tell me how Table Bluff was restored to the Marina, that part of the story is the History section. We where joined by Buffalo Bill, a friend of the curator. I loved his white hair and little goatee that hung from his chin. He looked as he just dismounted from a horse.

We talked for sometime and the evening dusk fell. Buffalo Bill, shared some stories of Punta Gorda, after he explained the difficulty of getting to it, I contemplated to visit it another time. My leg was throbbing, so I thought best to have dinner in the Samoa cookhouse and rest the leg. If you are ever in the area, drop in, it’s worth the visit. While waiting I looked around the cookhouse. It was certainly different from any restaurant I had visited. Long tables with plastic red/white checkered table clothes, Lots of artifacts from the loggers. Saws, drill, cooking utensil, every sort of tool you could imagine, and a selection of pictures from the past. I know my brother Eddie would have loved this place.

It was one price for the meal, no menu. Soup, Salad, two entrees, dessert and coffee all for $14. I did not eat all of it, I was too full. I was sitting at one of those long wooden tables, long enough for 20 people, and it was draped by a red/white checkered tablecloth. I took out my netbook and posted a message, the young waitress was fascinated by the netbook and inquired how I liked it. She then shared some stories, about school and her young son; it’s amazing what people will tell a stranger, I suppose there is something inside that wants to communicate with the outside world. By the time I finished dinner it was dark

I made my way to Marina Island/Woodley Island , Woodley Island is the home of Table Bluff Lighthouse, which was relocated to the island in 1987, also on the island is a memorial statue "The Fisherman," by artist Dick Crane. Both Lighthouse and statue commemorate those who have lost their lives at sea. Once on Woodley Island I followed the road until it came to an end. I saw the Lighthouse, it was a square tower severed from its main keepers building. I got a succinct feeling that this lighthouse was not complete, even though it was located in a sheltered harbor. Missing was the keepers building, any fog signals, and the isolation that usually accompanies a lighthouse, and the ruggedness of the area. The scenery here was quaint, nice and very picturesque, a pleasant looking parking lot overlooking the moored boats in their slips; it appeared as if everyone had drifted into the world of dreams and make belief. The time was approximately 10: pm. This was night photography, so I retrieved my tripod from the SUV, no people around so I took my time in setting up and shooting. After an hour or so, I packed up and looked for a hotel. I found the Best western, a step up from the night before. I took some shots to experiment with HDR process. I wonder can you spot the shot.

It was around 11:00 pm, when I decided I needed a place to rest. I nearly set up camp in my SUV, but I am getting too old for such stupidity. Got a room at the Best Western, not too bad; it had a good feeling about it. Once settled in my room, I had a glass of wine, I reviewed some of the pictures I shot and made plans for tomorrow’s lighthouses. I had to revisit to Table Bluff and take some day time shots, from there to Trinity head, ending the Tour at Cape Mendocino and finally homeward bound.

. I arose around 9:00 am, had a continental breakfast and headed over to the Marina. I am glad that I did some nice views on the Marina during the day and the clouds started to roll back. This was a lot different from yesterday, daylight versus nightlight. At night it was overwhelming tungsten, where as today it’s the blueness of daylight, at least I have the photographs from both shoots. I wish I could spend more time here, but its not practical, I have to work and make some money to do this. But at least I got to spend some daylight hours around Table Bluff, and you know it was tranquil and serene,
lovely area to visit, touristy. I did not spend much time, looking at old town just noticing the renovation, shops and people. I got to the pier and met a fellow photographer; he was waiting for some Pelicans to fly by. I got a few shots of Table Bluff, but not from the angle I wanted. So now it was unto the next Lighthouse Trinity Head Memorial.


1850'sthe area became an entry point for miners searching for California gold, the Bay is the largest Harbor in Northern California. It was one of the first eight west coast lighthouses chosen by the Lighthouse board. Lighthouse Board selected a site, near the entrance to the bay; it was on a sandy northern spit where it could be utilized as a coastal and harbor light. The area was prone to flooding and often hidden by fog.

1856, The Humboldt Bay North Spit Lighthouse was completed at the cost of $15,000 the lighthouse was finished and its beacon shone. The Light station was constructed as a single story building with a tower through its center of the roof. This tower was elevated later to improve visibility. A 4th order Fresnel lens was housed in the tower. The Humboldt Bay North Spit Lighthouse had for many years been criticized as being too low
1867, 1867, the lighthouse Board suggested that the lighthouse be moved to the 165ft high Table Bluff, four miles south of the bay’s entrance. From that prominence, the light would be able to serve seafarers entering both Humboldt Bay and Eel River, situated just south of the bluff
1874, A steam whistle was added.
1885, after a few earthquakes, and being flooded by a high tide the Humboldt , and 20ft waves Harbor Lighthouse was deemed uninhabitable
1891, Money was allocated for the new station on Table Bluff. The owner of the wanted $5,000 for about 10 acres of land and retain the right of way for the road to the light station and access to a nearby spring. The Board thought the price was exorbitant and set about condemnation proceedings. The next year, the owner of the land gave in and sold the land for $2,226.
1892, 1892, the Lighthouse Service built a light station on Table Bluff, a headland to the south of Humboldt Bay, which had view of the Humboldt Bay. The station had duplex Victorian keeper’s quarters, a fog-signal building, and assistant keeper’s quarters with a 35 ft square light tower attached. The fixed, 4th Order Fresnel lens was taken from the Humboldt Harbor Light and placed in the light tower (The focal plane of the light was placed at 187 ft and an improved visibility to 20 miles. ), two wash houses, an oil house and a carpenter shop behind the main building. The keeper’s quarters were made of a redwood Italianate-stick Victorian, and the structure was similar to the structure at San Luis Obispo. October 31, 1892, lens the Humboldt Harbor Lighthouse was activated on Table Bluff by keeper Tony Schmoll.
1906, , the Navy established a radio station on the property and during World War II the station was expanded to include lodging for mounted beach patrols, a coastal lookout post, and a radio compass station. During the war and immediately afterwards most of the original buildings were razed along with some of the newer structures. The quarter’s portion of the lighthouse was razed leaving only the tower. This and the fog signal building were all that remained of the original buildings.
1911, the fixed Fresnel lens was replaced with a revolving one. Thus changing the lights attribute from fixed-white to flashing-white.

1922, 1922, Keeper Stephen Pozanac was relocated from Ano Nuevo to Table Bluff with his wife. While he served at Fort Barry in Marin County during WW I he was impressed the keeper’s lifestyle, that he became one at the end of the war.He knew the lighthouse keepers at Point Bonita w While on a ferryboat in San Francisco, Pozanac met his future wife Minie Diflivson, daughter of Peter Diflivson, keeper of Lime Point Lighthouse. Apparently Pozanac was also impressed by the daughters of lighthouses keepers as he asked Minie to be his wife.
The Pozanacs supplemented their keeper’s income by using part of the expansive lighthouse reservation to raise large quantities of chickens and vegetables. Soon, they were not only supplying eggs, fryers and produce for the station, but also for a number of grocery stores in Eureka.
One night, Pozanac was making his way to his post in the fog signal building to stand watch when a strong tremor struck the station. The earthquake toppled the tall chimney on the fog signal building and sent it crashing through the roof. The pile of bricks landed right where Pozanac would have likely been standing watch had he reached the building. The fortunate Pozanac remained at Table Bluff until 1938, when he was transferred to Ballast Point Lighthouse, a twin of the Table Bluff Lighthouse.
1934-48, during World War II, the military used Table Bluff as a coastal lookout and a radio station. A large barracks was built along with six quarters for married men. The Military patrolled on Horseback the coast between the Eel River and Humboldt Bay. After the war ended, only the keepers were left at the station. Their was an excess of housing, and the Coast Guard decided to demolish the Victorian dwelling and the assistant keepers duplex of the lighthouse in favor of the more modern military quarters. The separated square wooden tower had to be stabilized by cables

1953,A modern optic was installed in the tower, and the Fresnel lens was shipped to San Diego to be displayed in the Old Point Loma Light which is a museum operated by the National Park Service, a fixed 3 1/2 order lens installed.. The fog signal was discontinued the same year and the station automated.

1975 1975 the light was discontinued and the property transferred to GSA and sold. The 3 1/2 order lens was shipped to the Smithsonian.

1987, 1987, The lighthouse tower was cut in two and moved to Woodley Island Marina in Eureka, thanks to a local resident named Ray Glavich. The cupola from the original light on the north spit was found at Coast Guard Station Humboldt Bay. It was restored and is now on display with the 4th order Fresnel lens at the Humboldt Bay Museum in Samoa.


1. California Lighthouses, Roberts and Jones p. 16.
2. Lighthouses and Lifeboats of the Redwood Coast, Ralph Shanks, 1978.
3. Lighthouses of the Pacific, Jim Gibbs, 1986.
4. The Keeper's Log Spring, Summer 2003.
5. Umbrella Guide to California Lighthouses, Sharlene and Ted Nelson, 1993.

US Coast Guard Lighthouse webpage.

Content is copyright by Ocairdestudio 2009
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