Imagine looking across the SF Bay mouth with no iconic red bridge spanning the shores. Hard to imagine, eh?
Sleuthing on Google images, this photo, post 1906 SF earthquake, shows the city in a state of rebuild. Note Alcatraz island in the lower right corner with no bridge to Marin in the left.
This post was born of curiosity from a jaunt down to Point Bonita Lighthouse. A docent, standing at lighthouse bridge, shared much info and history. Curious for more tidbits, at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center I viewed some old photos (photographing some for this post) and picked the brains of some park employees for more info.
A little online sleuthing furthered my edu-macation.
Point Bonita greets one on the left as you enter the bay. See highlighted point below:
How did it come to be?
Hollers of “Gold!” filled the CA air in 1848. In 1849 San Francisco, being the main port for gold seekers entering CA, boomed from 900 to 20,000 occupants. All that boat traffic = numerous shipwrecks off the treacherous coast guarding the bay.
Point Bonita was the 3rd lighthouse built on the west coast. Originally 300′ above the water, they found the fog too thick for the lighthouse’s beam of light to be effective. It was located at its current, lower elevation quite close to the water.
A lovely drawing of the original lighthouse. Note, no GGB:
It amazes me to think of families growing up in these lighthouses. I enjoy touring lighthouses. Stepping into the keeper’s quarters reveals layers of lives. Imagine, this was the backyard for some children:
Bonita Cove had a full on rescue operations set up. Boat houses on the hillsides emptied their contents to the shore via long ramps. Many lives were risked by the sailors in those rescue boats.
Today, standing on the point, the GGB exists. Marin Headlands/Golden Gate Nat’l Park protects the surrounding land offering up miles of trails, beaches, a hostel, the Marine Mammal Center, an Arts center and a great little visitor center.
And the lighthouse? She is absolutely beautiful.
A suspension bridge links her sliver of rock foundation to the access tunnel.
Being long overdue for repairs, it is slated for complete replacement and closed to the public. Quite a feat this will be as the bridge is anchored via a large spiral cable embedded in the bedrock. The docent mentioned barges and helicopters as part of the process.
Another view into Point Bonita Cove, there are leftovers from the rescue stations. Seals haul out onto the starfish crusted rocks below. It’s a great place to just stand and observe.
I love spending time here. Now for that GGB – I’ve got some ideas for future posts on that iconic landmark.