The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Crescent City, CA – Battery Point Lighthouse

There’s something about the California Coast. The 199 down from Oregon deposits you in Crescent City, CA.  A Breakwater hems in one side of Crescent Beach. After perusing the working harbor (full of fishing boats) and a couple guest tall ships in the marina,  I made way to Battery Point to visit the sweet little Battery Point Lighthouse.

It was windy. The waves were active and impressive, swamping over the massive jetty which you see in the video below though in person it was much more impressive.

The tide was low, however, and the narrow isthmus one walks across to the lighthouse was free and clear.


I’ve visited this pretty little lighthouse before.  I missed the last tour of the day. The woman exiting the building shared her excitement at the frantic waves. Apparently, it’s been a quiet winter without much big- wave-watching.

This was one of the first lighthouses on the California coast. In 1855 Congress appropriated $15,000 for its construction.   The fourth-order Fresnel Lens was replaced by an automated, modern light in 1953.  Despite most of the town being destroyed, the lighthouse survived the massive tsunami from the 1964 AK earthquake.  Eventually, a flashing light at the end of a breakwater replaced the lighthouse’s beam. In 1982 the lighthouse was switched back on,  managed as a “private aid” to navigation. This means, I believe, that it a group of volunteers and people that stay for periods of time maintain the light as it is on navigational charts and must be reliably lit.

Interesting bits and pieces:

Someday I’d like to be a volunteer lighthouse keeper.

Tours are available to the public, tide-permitting, daily from April to September.  The last time I was there I had a wonderful docent who lived and breathed the history of the area and the lighthouse.  They will take visitors up into the tower.  I highly recommend this spot.  SaveSave

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Northern CA Tour Part 3 of ? – Tippy-Top of a Lighthouse on the Tippy-Top of CA

After leaving Lassen Volcanic NP (HERE and HERE) I took a scenic drive to the tippy top of CA with plans to make my way down.  There is no easy, direct way over.  Huge expanses of wilderness area, not accessible by vehicle, force one way up into Oregon (then back down) or along the curvy path of the Klamath River.

I chose the Klamath.  Though only 150 and some odd miles, I bet it took 4 hours to drive.  They were gorgeous, though, and worth every minute, especially nearly-in-Oregon vistas such as this:




First real stop was in Crescent City, a town of 7,700 folks.  The wettest spot in CA it receives 70+” of rain yearly.  That’s 70.  7-0.  Gray/fog and a slight mist greeted me.

The city’s history is riddled with Tsunamis and one source told me 17 hit the shore from 1943-1994 though most were imperceptible.  1964 excepted that rule, though.

The Good Friday earthquake in Anchorage, AK sent waves down the coast, in just 4.5 hours, that wrecked havoc on the little city that’s mostly harbor.  All in all, 60 total blocks were affected with 30 leveled.  There were 12 deaths and many missing with over 100 injured.

These days, the city has preparedness in mind.  A 7.0 quake 90 miles offshore triggered an evacuation in 2005 with most of the city out in 20 minutes.

I noted Tsunami Zone warning signs over much of this trip’s path.  Made me wonder…and feel vulnerable.


The starring attraction was the Battery Point Lighthouse.  A beauty she is!  Accessible only at low tide it’s perched on a little point surrounded by water (mostly). Now automated and  privately run,dedicated volunteers stay there 24/7 and give fascinating tours.


Looking into the harbor at the Jetty:



From a distance:



The Coolest part of the tour was getting to climb the stairs ALL the way up into the lens department to look out:




The view?  Fantastic.  Not sure I’ll ever get to go into a lighthouse’s uppermost compartment again.  It’s quite unheard of.  Note the downward pointed angles on the chimney to keep ocean water out.  It gets wild out there.



“Trash.” According to one volunteer.  Fun and quirky in my eyes:





Of note, there’s an old, out of commission lighthouse up the shore.  Photos I’ve perused are dramatic and foreboding.  Standing alone, 6 miles off the shore, on a chunk of rock just 300 feet in diameter, perched on a 50 foot high foundation, the ST GEORGE REEF LIGHTHOUSE  became too dangerous for maintenance and the keepers living in the lighthouse (not in a separate structure, as usual).  It was decommissioned and replaced by an automated buoy (or “boobie,” as we used to call buoys at the beach when swimming as kids.)   Several died during construction, keepers suffered “mental breakdowns” and frequently transferred out, supplies came by boat, water frequently crashed over the foundation and one storm ‘s waves broke windows 150’ off the water.

All the photos I found were by private artists and I do not want to infringe on any copyright laws.  I encourage you to look at THIS LINK.  It will awe you.

Thankfully, in 1982 the decaying and abandoned lighthouse’s First Order Fresnel lens was dismantled, each piece of glass numbered and helicoptered out with the aid of the Coast Guard.   The lens now stands, reconstructed, in the little museum  in Crescent city.

Of note, trips are offered (though infrequently and, of course, weather permitting) to this spot via helicopter.

Ooooh I want to go.