Ageless Sentinel - Battery Point Lighthouse

James Anderson

Calgary, Canada

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Artist's Description

Battery Point Lighthouse, circa 1856

I wanted to try and give the image an ambiance of historical vintage and removed any electrical poles and wires. I then converted this image to a black and white and added some warming hues and some deep shadows.

Historical information from…

In May of 1855, Congress appropriated $15,000 for the construction of a lighthouse on the tiny islet, which is connected to Battery Point by an isthmus at low tide. Although not included in the 1852 contract for the first eight west coast lighthouses, the Battery Point Lighthouse was actually lit ten days before the Humboldt Harbor Lighthouse, the last of the original eight to become operational. The lighthouse, like most of the original eight, was built in a Cape Cod style, with the tower located in the center of the dwelling. The fourth-order Fresnel lens in the lantern room first illuminated the night sky at Crescent City on December 10, 1856.

The first official keeper, Theophilis Magruder, arrived at the lighthouse fifteen days after it was first lit. A temporary keeper had been employed until Magruder could arrive. Magruder’s starting salary was $1,000 per year. He subsequently received a 40% pay cut, which prompted his resignation.

In 1875, the Lighthouse Board reported that the lighthouse “was in a dilapidated condition…the light itself is of little consequence.” With Saint George Reef lying roughly six miles northwest of the harbor, mariners felt that approaching the harbor at night was too risky and typically remained well at sea. A light was eventually established on St. George Reef, but mariners discovered that the harbor light was still required for safe nighttime navigation.

John Jeffrey became keeper of the light in 1875, during the time when the lighthouse’s future was uncertain. Jeffrey and his wife Nellie served for nearly forty years at the station, and for part of that time, Nellie was employed as the first assistant keeper. They raised four children at the station, and the life must have been somewhat agreeable as their son also entered into the lighthouse service, taking an assignment at the Oakland Harbor Lighthouse.

The Crescent City Lighthouse was automated in 1953, and a modern 375mm lens replaced the fourth-order Fresnel lens. After automation, the Del Norte Historical Society leased the lighthouse, and the lighthouse eventually became home to a museum and curators.

With its exposed location atop a rocky mound, the lighthouse was often battered by storms. Waves would wash over the islet and strike the lighthouse. One rogue wave broke three panes of glass in the lantern room and deposited water in the tower. Remarkably, the lighthouse received no damage when Crescent City received the worst tsunami damage ever suffered along the west coast of the lower forty-eight states. On March 27, 1964, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the northern hemisphere with a moment magnitude of 9.2 struck Alaska near Prince William Sound. A series of waves generated by the earthquake raced south at a speed of nearly 600 m.p.h. and reached Crescent City around midnight with crests of up to twenty feet.

Eleven people in Crescent City were killed by the tsunami. Twenty-one boats were destroyed in the harbor, and ninety-one homes in town were damaged. The total cost of all the destruction was in excess of seven million dollars.

The lighthouse survived the ordeal intact, but the following year, the modern beacon that replaced the Fresnel lens in the tower was switched off, and a flashing light at the end of the nearby breakwater served as the harbor’s navigational aid. On December 10, 1982, the light in the lighthouse tower was lit again, and the Battery Point Lighthouse was listed as a private aid to navigation.

Today caretakers live in the lighthouse and conduct tours of the premises. The fourth-order Fresnel lens used in the lighthouse is on display along with historic photos and other lighthouse memorabilia (from

Battery Point, Crescent City, California, USA

canon T2i, sigma 18mm, 3image HDR processed in photomatix, cropped and sharpened in PSP x4

Artwork Comments

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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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