|

150 years and the light is still on

A forum to discuss lighthouses on the West Coast Region of the US
(California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii)

Postby Leah Loar-Mays » Wed Feb 02, 2005 12:54 pm


This article was a subscription-only and was too lengthy for the home page, but definitely worth sharing with the group!
<BR><BR>

Image
Photo by Orville Myers/The Herald
<BR><BR>
Lighthouse has outlasted all others on West Coast

By KAREN RAVN

Monterey (Calif.) Herald


In 1855, the Know-Nothing Party held its first convention. Congress decided to test camels for military use. And sailors started seeing the light from the Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove.

The Know-Nothings didn't survive the decade. The camels never really panned out.

But 150 years later, sailors are still seeing the light from Point Pinos. No other West Coast lighthouse has been on the beam so long.

"It's really the best example of its type," said Jerry McCaffery, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School and volunteer lighthouse historian for the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. "It's accessible. People can actually go in it and walk around on the same pine boards that came around the Horn, that Robert Louis Stevenson probably walked on."

On Tuesday afternoon, lighthouse docents re-enacted the scene when on February 1, 1855, Charles Layton, the original keeper at Point Pinos, first lit the whale-oil lantern warning ships to keep their distance from the Central Coast.

The lighthouse has been fully automated since 1975 and stays lit year-round. But with permission from the U.S. Coast Guard, docents turned off the 1,000-watt light at 3 p.m. Then at 4:30 p.m., about an hour before sunset, they lowered the flag and turned the light back on just as Layton would have done.

Craig O'Donnell, district director of Assemblyman John Laird's Monterey County office, presented the docents with a framed copy of a resolution marking the lighthouse anniversary.

"Though we commemorated this landmark lighthouse in the state Assembly," said Laird, D-Santa Cruz, "this celebration is also about honoring the critical role played by the staff and many volunteers who keep Point Pinos Lighthouse open and accessible to the public."

Point Pinos boasts several superlatives among West Coast lighthouses: Not only has it been in continuous operation longer than any other, but it has the oldest light-focusing lens -- dating from 1853 -- and it had the first woman keeper.

That was Charlotte Layton, who took over duties from her husband. He was shot and killed in the line of another duty -- tracking down an all-too-dangerous outlaw with a nine-member posse.

The second, and last, female keeper was Emily Fish, who began her career in 1893 at age 50. Although she'd already lived two years beyond the average life expectancy for women of the time, Fish served for 21 years -- and lived in Pacific Grove for almost 20 more.

Between Layton and Fish, there were three male keepers, including Allen Luce, who is notable for serving longest -- 22 years -- and for playing the piano for Robert Louis Stevenson, who happened to drop by one winter day in 1879.

Neither Pacific Grove nor Stevenson had come into their own yet. Only two families lived in the town full-time then, and Stevenson wouldn't write "Treasure Island" for several more years.

"There are many interesting things about the lighthouse that are worth respecting," said McCaffery, who recounts just about all of them in his book "Lighthouse: Point Pinos, Pacific Grove, California," published in 2001.

One item he couldn't include is the change of ownership from the federal government to the city of Pacific Grove. That's because it hasn't happened yet, although it's been in the works since August and is expected at any time.

"I don't know what the holdup is," McCaffery said.

The change is part of a nationwide program transferring as many lighthouses as possible to local governments or nonprofit organizations.

They're trying to save money in the federal budget, McCaffery said, while still making sure that "the lighthouses go to good homes." Rules are in place to prevent private parties from taking them and selling them for a profit or turning them into bed and breakfasts, for instance.

Although donations are more than welcome, admission is free to the 38,000 visitors a year who come to Point Pinos from all over the world. They find the lighthouse open five days a week -- seven during the summer -- thanks to the 31 volunteer docents who staff it.

"We're always looking for more, of course," said McCaffery.

Although it's been keeping the light on for 150 years, some people still haven't learned the lighthouse's name. It's Point Pinos, not Piños, and it's pronounced pee-noce, not peen-yoce.

But misconceptions die hard. McCaffery once edited a children's book that made the common mistake. So he carefully changed every "ñ" to an "n."

"And it turned out to be a beautiful book," he said.

It has one flaw though. Make that 47.

Somewhere along the line, somebody put back all 47 "ñ's." www.pgmuseum.org/Lighthouse.htm


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Point Pinos Lighthouse Hours: September to May, 1 to 4 p.m., Thursday to Monday June to August, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day The anniversary celebration continues with two historical readings: Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m., 'Emily Fish's retirement' Feb. 12 and 13, 2 p.m., 'Beach patrol during World War II' Go to: montereyherald.com for more information on Point Pinos Lighthouse.
Leah
User avatar
Leah Loar-Mays
Lighthouse Master
 
Posts: 3883
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Northern Panhandle of WV

Postby Leah Loar-Mays » Wed Feb 02, 2005 1:19 pm


I found another non-subscription publication to use as a link, so this article DID after all make the home page! :D
Leah
User avatar
Leah Loar-Mays
Lighthouse Master
 
Posts: 3883
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Northern Panhandle of WV

Postby island » Wed Feb 02, 2005 1:29 pm


Thank you for posting this. Leah. Here is a photo of the 3rd Order lens illuminated.
Image
island
Lt. Commissioner
 
Posts: 2035
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2002 1:00 am

Postby Grover1 » Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:23 pm


Dave ... Leah

Another view of that light taken early morning last March ...

<img src="http://img143.exs.cx/img143/8981/foggypinos22um.jpg" width=550>

Barry
Believe those who search for the truth ...
Doubt those who find it ...
User avatar
Grover1
Lighthouse God
 
Posts: 5999
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2003 12:00 am
Location: God's Square Mile

Postby island » Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:32 pm


Thanks Barry. This is a striking photo, this light shining in the fog or mist showing the intent and purpose of this lighthouse from when it was built in 1855. It is unfortunate that at so many lighthouses the Fresnels have been removed.
island
Lt. Commissioner
 
Posts: 2035
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2002 1:00 am

Postby Leah Loar-Mays » Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:32 pm


Wow, I love them both! So very different, yet both SO very appealing. Thanks!! :D
Leah
User avatar
Leah Loar-Mays
Lighthouse Master
 
Posts: 3883
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Northern Panhandle of WV

Postby plebetkin » Fri Feb 04, 2005 2:34 pm


if lighthouses could talk, imagine the history that this one could discuss!
good friends mean good times
plebetkin
Lighthouse God
 
Posts: 6562
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Connecticut


Return to West Coast Lighthouses

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron