Sunday, November 7, 2010
About 1.2 miles (2 km) west of the Golden Gate Bridge, accessible only by boat, site and tower closed to the public.
Latitude: 37° 49" 12'
Longitude: -122° 29" 56'
Year 1st Constructed: 1923
Year established: 1923
Tower Height: focal plane 85 ft above sea level.
Tower Shape: 1 story square building
Original Optic: Lens lantern
Current Optic: Navigation light mounted atop the building
Light characteristic: White Isophase (3 Seconds On, 3 Seconds Off);
Original construction: square 1-story wood fog signal building
Color: White with red roof
Fog horn: 12 inch electric Siren, Continuously operating fog signal (blast every 15 s).
Admiralty number: G4064
ARLHS number: USA-974
USCG number: 6-4250
This journey was a whale watching trip to the Farallon Islands. The start of the day was early morning; I had to rise around 6 am because I had to be at the Fisherman’s wharf around 8:00 am. The Whale watching tour leaves around 8:30 am. Eddie my brother, his 2 daughters Jamie and Laura accompanied me on this trip. Using his handicap parking, I found a parking spot near to area where the tour group was congregating. The weather looked great and the skies where blue with a few clouds.
Being familiar with the route, I was aware of the 6 lighthouses I would pass, Alcatraz, Point Lime, Fort Point, Point Diablo, Mile Rock and Point Bonita. I had already blogged on 5 of lighthouses and maybe someday in the future I will post updated photographs, so this gave me an opportunity to put my focus on Point Diablo. Just like Rubicon in Tahoe, this lighthouse site is not one of those which will go down in the annals of majestic Lighthouses, but it was a sentinel that once protected seafarers as they entered the bay. Today, it is powered by solar energy and perched upon the treacherous rocks as it performs its function as a coastal sentinel. Point Diablo is surrounded on all sides, by lighthouses of more famed history. Yet it has a forlorn beauty, a rawness of nature, an abandoned location, a wild landscape, and a less than friendly perch on the Marin rocks looking at the access points, you know that this is not a frequented area. The building itself looks as if it could do with a touch of paint.
Point Diablo cannot be accessed from land, and the Kitty Hawk provided me with the best opportunity to shoot it from water. The sky and the bay was more cooperative in that the waters where calmer and the sky had a deeper blue, not a dull grey. Point Diablo is the last light station before you enter the San Francisco. Bay; it has a lot of the feelings of mystique and barrenness that attract lighthouse followers. What is missing is the majestic grandeur of the coastal beacons. It does reveal the treacherous nature of the waters as ships enter the bay. It is still an active beacon. As the Kitty Hawk bobbed up and down in the cove near Point Diablo, I managed to fire of a few shots. Both of the seals in the harbor, the bridge and the lighthouse. I thought of how the lightkeepers managed to maintain this forlorn site. It was not attractive in the least. From this point you could see Fort point perched beneath the Golden Gate bridge, immersed in the glory of its past, Army, Bridge Building, Fire of San Francisco, Point Lime on the opposite end having Similar glory, Mile rock winning the heart of San Franciscans with its fog horn blare, Point Bonita, built the semblance of a sentinel of protection. Yet few people knew or even cared about this small outhouse lost in the midst of such glory and honor. All those lighthouses had ceased to be active, but this uncomely site was still performing its duty, unattended and mainly out of site to the general public.
Maybe the 3rd time will be lucky.
The 1800’s was to see the bay area transformed, the gold rush, statehood, and the growth of immigration and commerce was to put a strain on providing safe passage in and out of the bay.
1901: The Steamer City of Rio De Janeiro, struck the rocks near Point Diablo, Southeast of Point Bonita. 128 passengers lost their lives. The steamer quickly filled with water and sank to the dark murky waters of the bay. It had approached the bay in the darkness of the night and dense foggy weather. The deceased captain and the pilot where found guilty of gross negligence. It was later discovered that a rich passenger had influenced the pilot.
1923: This navigational hazard was marked by the lighthouse. The keepers at Point Lime were given the extra task of maintaining a minor light placed on Point Diablo, 1.2 miles west of Point Lime. A small shack with a red roof was erected on the sloping point. A 12 inch electric siren and two lens lanterns were installed approximately 80 ft above the bay.
2007: The U.S. Coast Guard was seeking to transfer this and four other area light stations to the National Park Service.
2010: An array of solar panels now powers the modern beacon positioned atop the shack.